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Is there any way to erase those points off your insurance? Here are the three best ways to erase car insurance points
How Car Insurance Points Work
Most states have begun to assess each driver’s record using a points system. Basically, the state assigns a point value to each traffic violation you have. The more serious offenses result in more points on your record.
This system is related to the point system that many insurance companies use. In fact, the insurance companies base their point system to a large degree on the local DMV point values, though there are a few differences. For example if a speeding ticket will get you a single point on your driving record, then it will usually result in a single point on your insurance.
While a single point on your license might not result in a rate hike, a few more will.
The differences between the DMV points and insurance points vary by company and state. In New Jersey, for instance, a local lawyer points out that DUIs aren’t assigned points by the New Jersey state onto your driving record. However, insurance companies will assign it nine points onto their records.
The reason companies assign points is to help them properly calculate how much to charge you for insurance. As the National Association of Insurance Commissioners explains, many factors contribute to how much you pay for car insurance. Your driving record is an important factor.
The more points you have on your record, the higher risk you pose to an insurer. They determine risk by how likely you are to cost them money in insurance claims. If you have a high number of points, meaning you have several tickets and accidents, you are more likely to cause them to pay out a claim than a driver with a clean record. Thus, they charge you more in premiums to make up for that.
So if you have been pulled over and given a ticket, what are the best ways to erase these points off your record?
Take a Driver’s Safety Course
The easiest and most sure way of getting those points off your record, and thus saving yourself a rate hike, is to take a driver’s safety course. These courses are called different things in different states, like defensive driving, traffic school, or a driver’s safety course.
Different states have varying rules for these classes. Some states will let you take one a year to erase a ticket, while some only allow it every 18 months or every other year. There are classes online you can take in some states, while others require you to physically attend a class.
There are a couple of downsides to taking a defensive driver’s class. You’ll still have to pay a fee to the local government as well as the tuition for the class. However, this is far cheaper than paying higher insurance premiums for the next three to five years plus the full price of the ticket.
While it may seem like a tedious easy to spend several hours, there are ways to handle this. Online classes allow you to fit them in around your schedule, and the dress code is very casual. If you have to attend a class, look for one that either offers a meal or presents the information in a fun way.
Many companies specialize in defensive driver classes that seem more like comedy hour than a driving class.
Even if you didn’t take the class to get the ticket dismissed, sometimes you can take it later. This will get you a discount on your policy, which will in essence cancel out some of these points.
The main drawback to these classes is the restrictions on how often you can take the class. If you get more than one ticket a year, this cannot help you to erase the insurance points.
Contest the Ticket
Occasionally, it makes sense to fight the ticket in court. When you are pulled over and are given a ticket, the paper you are signing is not an admission of guilt, but rather an acknowledgment that you need to appear in court. If you plead guilty at that point, you can either pay the ticket, or ask to take defensive driving. If you plead not guilty, you will need to come back to trial at a later date.
If you contest the ticket, you have a couple of option. You can hire a lawyer, but this option is often more expensive than the ticket and insurance would be. You can also represent yourself, but you must be prepared, says How Stuff Works.
Not only do you need to understand the law, you need to present evidence either that the ticket was a mistake or that you had mitigating circumstances. An example of the first would be a mistake by the officer, like he put the wrong information on the ticket, or you can prove there was more than one vehicle like yours in the area. The second would be swerving to miss an animal or child in the road.
If you can get witnesses, these can help your defense, especially if the ticket relied on the subjective judgment of the officer.
If you are found guilty, you’ll have to pay the fine for the ticket plus court fees, though you might still be able to take a driving course. If you are found not guilty, then you’ll not have to pay anything for the ticket and the points will not appear on your driving or insurance record.
The final way to erase insurance points is to drive safely after a ticket. As you drive with no more tickets, the points will eventually drop off your insurance. This is another area of difference between DMV points and insurance points.
The states mandate how long the driving points stay on your record. In some states, certain violations can stay on your driving record for up to ten years, while others will never drop off. However, the insurance points will usually stay on for three to five years and then drop off.
In some states, an insurance company will reduce the premium after just a year of clean driving, while others wait for the entire three to five years. You can always give your insurance company a call and ask how they handle dropping points and premiums in the years after a ticket.
Too Many Points
If you have too many points on your driving record, you might see a more serious consequence than paying more for insurance. You could lose your license.
For example, in Georgia, if you have 15 or more points in a 24 month period, your license will be suspended. In Georgia, most moving violations are worth three points, while violations like aggressive driving or speeding more than 34 miles an hour over the posted limit is worth six points.
It is important to keep up with how many points you are racking up, especially if you rely on your driving to get to work or care for your family.
Other Ways to Save Money on Insurance
Besides obeying the law to keep tickets at a minimum, there are many other ways to save money on your car insurance. You can take advantage of any discounts that the company offers. Sometimes you might not even be aware of all the possible discounts the company offers.
If you haven’t had anyone review your policy in a while, ask a representative to check your policy to see if you could get any more discounts for things like a:
- Safe driver discount. This is for drivers with a clean driving record.
- Good student discount. If you have a high school or college student on the policy, see if his grades will qualify for this discount. Usually he’ll need to have a GPA of 3.0, which translates to all As and Bs.
- Safety features. If your car has certain safety features, your insurance company will probably give you a credit for this. These would include things like airbags, especially advanced airbag systems like side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, and others.
- Anti-theft devices. Cars with particular pieces of technology that help either deter theft or help in recovering a stolen vehicle will usually result in a discount on the insurance. These would be an engine immobilizer or something like LoJack.
- Good Credit. One of the factors insurance companies consider when determining your risk is your credit score. If you have good credit with a high score, you’ll be considered lower risk than a driver with a lower score will.
- Multi-car. If you have more than one vehicle on the car insurance policy, each one will receive a discount.
A big discount that you may be eligible for is called a multi-policy discount. This is for customers who have more than one different type of policy with the same company, usually home and auto, though some also offer life, boat, RV, and motorcycle insurance. It is usually less expensive to insure all of these with the same company than it is to get a separate policy for each.
Another way to find a good price for car insurance is to compare rates from several companies. Since each company determines its own prices and levels of discount, the rate for the same driver can vary by hundreds of dollars depending on the company. So get a few quotes before buying a policy to insure you are getting the best deal, no matter how many points you have on your insurance.
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