Blog Texting And Driving: Understanding The Insurance Impact

Feb 20, 2024

Will being caught texting and driving increase your insurance?

woman texting and driving

Are you guilty of texting and driving?

It is estimated that more than 660,000 drivers are attempting to use their phones while driving at any given moment. In today's fast-paced world, staying connected is more important than ever. With the rise of smartphones, texting has become a ubiquitous form of communication. However, when texting intersects with driving, the consequences can be deadly. Not only does texting and driving endanger lives, but it can also have a significant impact on your insurance premiums.

According to a study conducted in 2022 by CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO), 44% of drivers in the province have confessed to being involved in distracted driving, which is a four percent increase compared to the previous year.

The study also found that almost two-thirds of those surveyed have witnessed traffic violations or near-collisions due to distracted driving, including texting while driving, which is also an increase of four percent from the previous year.

So, what does it mean for your auto insurance if you are caught? You may be surprised to see how high your rate can increase by focusing on your phone, not the road.

Three main takeaways about insurance and texting and driving:

  • You will likely see an increase in your rate if you have a ticket for texting and driving.
  • You face the risk of not being able to find standard auto coverage with risky driving behaviour.
  • If you are caught using your phone while driving, it is classified as distracted driving, which is why the penalties are heavy.

What's on this page:

How does texting and driving impact insurance?
How much will my insurance increase if I’m caught texting and driving?
How long will texting and driving affect insurance?
How long does a texting and driving ticket stay on your record?

How does texting and driving impact insurance?

Texting and driving will increase your insurance rates. Texting while driving is a form of distracted driving, which is a leading cause of accidents on the road. This level of distraction significantly increases the risk of accidents, injuries, and even fatalities.

  • Text and driving is now considered a major conviction: Under the Highway Traffic Act, there are laws and fines around using display screens and mobile phones while driving.
  • Increased insurance rates: If you are caught using your phone while driving, you not only face fines, but you can see a hike in your policy.
  • Non-standard coverage: Depending on your record, you may need specialized coverage for your vehicle. Texting and driving is risky driving behaviour - insurers do not like that.
  • Non-renewal: When it's time to renew your insurance, you may face issues if you have a lot of fines or tickets.
  • Trouble finding a policy: Insurers want to cover drivers who do their best to stay safe on the road. If you partake in activities such as texting and driving, you will likely have issues finding an affordable rate, or an insurer who wants to have you.

Fines range from $80 to $1,200 for the first offence. Some provinces increase them for subsequent offences. If caught, demerit points will also be added to your licence. If you accumulate enough driving infractions, you may have to get high-risk coverage due to your risky driving behaviour.

How much will my insurance increase if I’m caught texting and driving?

Insurance companies base their premiums on various factors, including driving history, age, type of vehicle, and location. One critical factor that insurers consider is the level of risk associated with insuring a particular driver. Engaging in risky behaviours like texting while driving increases your likelihood of being involved in an accident, increasing the risk for companies.

When you're caught texting and driving, it reflects negatively on your driving record and signals to insurers that you pose a higher risk. As a result, you can expect to see an increase in your insurance premiums following a distracted driving conviction. The increase can sometimes be substantial, potentially costing you hundreds or even thousands of dollars over time.

Moreover, a distracted driving conviction may also impact your eligibility for specific discounts or preferred rates offered by insurance companies. Safe driving discounts, which reward drivers with clean records, may no longer be available if you have a texting and driving ticket on your record.

Example of insurance impact from texting and driving

A driver, 32 years old, is behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI four-door hatchback 2017 in Toronto. They have a G licence, and the individual has been insured since 2006 without interruption. They have maintained a relationship with their current provider for two years. They currently pay $1,291 a year for car insurance in Toronto.

In June of the current year, they received a distracted driving citation, specifically for the "prohibited use of a hand-held device," as outlined in the list of offences. Here is an example of how their rate may increase.

One distracted driving charge: 15% increase = $1,484

Two distracted driving charges within the same year: 27% increase = $1,884

This is only one example of how texting and driving can affect your insurance. Depending on the circumstances of your driving infraction, you could see your rates increase significantly more.

Worries about your rates increasing? Don't text and drive.

Safe drivers pay less for their coverage. Want to find a better rate? Start comparing your options with Canada's top insurers. Our brokers are dedicated to helping you pay less for insurance.

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How long will texting and driving affect insurance?

Many jurisdictions have implemented strict laws and penalties to deter drivers from texting while behind the wheel. These laws vary by region but typically involve fines, licence suspensions, and jail time for repeat offenders. However, the consequences of texting and driving extend beyond legal ramifications to impact your Ontario auto insurance.

Significant convictions related to texting and driving may remain on your driving record for an extended period, and insurers will continue to take them into account 6-8 years post-occurrence, even if they are erased from your driver's abstract, a government document. This underscores one of the numerous reasons why texting and driving should be avoided.

How long does a texting and driving ticket stay on your record?

If you use a mobile device while driving in Ontario, the offence will be added to your driving record for two years from the date of the offence. If you are convicted, this conviction will remain on your record for three years from the date of conviction.

Furthermore, if you receive a handheld device ticket in Ontario, your insurer may use it to increase your premiums for up to three years. Demerit points will also be added to your driving record for up to two years.

Keep your eyes on the road and your premiums low

How can you prevent texting and driving and mitigate its insurance impact? The answer is simple: Put your phone away while driving. Whether it's stowing it in the glove compartment, enabling driving mode, or using hands-free technology, find a solution that works for you to eliminate the temptation of texting behind the wheel.

Additionally, consider exploring usage-based insurance (UBI) programs which use telematics technology to monitor your driving habits, including instances of distracted driving. By demonstrating safe driving behaviours, such as avoiding distractions, you may qualify for discounts on your premium.

Texting and driving is dangerous and carries significant consequences for your rates and overall well-being. By prioritizing safety and practicing responsible driving habits, you can protect yourself, your loved ones, and others on the road from the devastating effects of distracted driving. Remember, no text message is worth risking your life or the lives of others.