The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

May 20, 2013

The Color of Money: Calculating a ticket's true cost

— For many drivers, the fear of rising auto insurance rates keeps them from driving too fast or leaving their license at home.

     Get into an accident or get a ticket and what's the second thought you might have?

     "Oh my gosh, my insurance will go up." You might use stronger language but the sentiment is the same.

     AAA estimated that last year almost 31 million Americans traveled by car during the Memorial Day weekend and another 36 million during the July 4th holiday. With that many cars on the road, traffic violations -- not to mention accidents -- are bound to happen.

     The thing is, you don't generally know how much a traffic ticket will affect your car insurance.

     Now, the website Insurance.com has created an online tool that allows drivers to estimate the percentage increase to their auto insurance rates for 14 common violations. It's called the "'Uh-Oh!' Calculator."

     Get a ticket for not wearing your seat belt and that could increase your insurance rate by about 3 percent, according to Insurance.com, which provides consumer insurance information and quotes.

     "We decided to develop the calculator because average rate increases for common traffic violations were not widely known or reported, yet everyone is curious about it," said Michelle Megna, managing editor of Insurance.com. "Naturally, you know how much the ticket costs and you realize your car insurance rates are likely to go up, but after that, it's a bit of a black hole. No one really knows what to expect in specific dollar amounts."

     To come up with the averages, the company said it analyzed nearly half a million auto insurance quotes provided to its users from 2009 to 2011. Drivers with common violations were compared with folks with no infractions. Insurance.com then used this information to figure out annual premiums that also took into account people's personal information such as age, where they live, and length of time with their insurance provider.

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