Blog How Do Tickets Affect Car Insurance In Ontario?

Feb 16, 2021

You know that sinking feeling – you’ve just been pulled over by a police officer. Maybe you’re wondering “What did I do?” or “Why have I been pulled over?”. Even worse – you caught a glimpse of your speedometer and you realize, “Oh man, I was 20 kms over the limit!”. And without skipping a beat, your next thought is, “Is this ticket going to increase my car insurance?”.

You’re mad at yourself or you’re panicked because you know it’s not going to be a good outcome. Whatever your reaction, the tough medicine you have to face is – there are going to be some outcomes – and some of them include your auto premiums.

Police officer on highway giving a ticket

Learn How Tickets Impact Insurance In Ontario

Everyone wants to know how tickets will affect their insurance rates. Even drivers who have a clean driving record want to know, just in case they get a ticket or traffic conviction in the future.

We all know that, as a driver, you’re expected to practice safe driving in Ontario. And if you don’t know the rules of the road or don’t always follow them, you are putting yourself and others at risk. You also run the risk of getting a ticket or traffic conviction which can increase how much you pay for your policy.

Which Kind Of Tickets Affect Insurance?

Do all tickets affect insurance? This is a common question we get from our policy holders in Ontario. The answer is that it depends on the type of traffic ticket you receive.

Traffic tickets are divided into three main categories – minor, major, and serious convictions. Each of these types can affect your rates, regardless of the number of demerit points or the severity of the fine associated with the traffic infraction.

Here’s a breakdown of some examples of the types of convictions :

Serious Or Criminal Conviction

  • DUI, blood alcohol over .08
  • Speeding over 50 kms above posted limit
  • Driving uninsured
  • Refusing a breathalyzer
  • Failing to remain at an accident
  • Racing

Major Conviction

  • Distracted driving
  • G1 driver driving unaccompanied
  • Fail to obey school crossing stop sign
  • Failure to report an accident
  • Improper passing of a school bus
  • Improper passing/speeding in a school or playground zone

Minor Conviction

  • Backing up – unsafe, illegal, improper
  • Brakes – none, inadequate, improper
  • Crowding driver’s seat
  • Door opening – illegal, obstructing traffic
  • Other moving offences – speeding, failure to stop at stop sign
  • Driving imprudently

What Tickets Increase Your Car Insurance The Most?

Top 8 Traffic Tickets That Will Spike Your Premiums

As a driver, you want to avoid getting any traffic ticket; however, there are some that are even more important to avoid because of the potential fines, demerit points, and impact on your car insurance.

Here are the top 8 traffic tickets and convictions you don't want to get :

  1. DUI : Driving under the influence or DUI has severe repercussions, including criminal charges and jail time.
  2. Distracted driving : One of the most serious issues on the road today, distracted driving fines start at $490 and 3 demerit points in Ontario.
  3. Careless driving : A charge for careless driving in Ontario will get you 6 demerit points, fines starting at $400 and even the potential for jail time.
  4. Speeding over 50 kilometres about posted limit : This is a serious offense that could come with additional charges such as street racing, careless driving, and will increase your insurance immediately.
  5. Speeding in a school zone or construction zone : This is not only extremely dangerous, it comes with a hefty fine and will spike your insurance.
  6. Driving without insurance : This will make it very difficult and expensive to get insurance if you get caught driving without it.
  7. Failure to remain at the scene : If you get into an accident, remain at the scene or you could face a big fine.
  8. Passing a school bus with its lights flashing : Never put children in harm’s way. If you get a ticket for passing a school bus, expect your costs to skyrocket.

How Much Do Convictions For Tickets Increase Insurance?

Every insurance company has their own policies on how they charge for driving convictions. The amount and severity of the conviction a driver has on their driving record can impact premiums.

Here are some general guidelines to help you understand the potential impacts :

  • Serious Or Criminal Convictions : You may be charged 100% more for each conviction.
  • Major Convictions : You may be charged 25% more for each conviction.
  • Minor Convictions
    • 1 Minor Conviction : 1 minor conviction has no impact but the driver will not be eligible for a conviction free discount.
    • 2 Minor Convictions : Some companies charge 20% more for 2 minor convictions and 20% more for each additional conviction.

Do Parking Impact Insurance?

So you’ve racked up a parking ticket or two, you’ve paid them, but you still want to know how do parking tickets affect insurance in Ontario?

You can take a deep breath! Parking tickets have no impact on your insurance.

However, if you don’t pay those parking tickets, you won’t be permitted to renew your license plate when it comes up for renewal, so make sure you pay those tickets when you get them.

Do Speeding Tickets Affect Insurance In Ontario?

80 km per hour speed limit sign on country road

Getting a speeding ticket is something most drivers will experience in their lifetime. It’s one of the most common forms of ticket, and if you get one, you want to know how a speeding ticket affects insurance.

As with other tickets, it depends on the severity of the ticket, or how fast you were going over the limit, and the classification of the traffic infraction (minor, major, serious conviction) and how many speeding tickets you have.

Your first minor speeding ticket will not have as much of an impact on your insurance as your third speeding ticket or a conviction for a serious speeding offense.

Will A Red Light Ticket Affect My Auto Insurance?

It could. If you are pulled over by a police officer for running a red light, it is considered a minor conviction and it could impact your insurance. There are also red light cameras in many cities. Learn more about red light camera tickets.

How Do Speed Camera Tickets Affect Insurance?

They don’t as it is difficult to prove who was driving the vehicle. They are treated similar parking tickets and will not impact your insurance.

Do Tickets For Running A Stop Affect Insurance?

Running a stop sign is a minor traffic conviction, and it is treated similarly to a red light ticket. Running a stop sign can impact your rates, so keep this in mind the next time you do a rolling stop.

How Does Distracted Driving Impact My Premium?

Distracted driving is a major conviction. The fine for distracted driving is $490, plus three demerit points; and if you are convicted of distracted driving, you can expect your costs to go up.

If you have previous tickets and then get a distracted driving charge, your costs could skyrocket and you may get your policy cancelled.

When Does A Ticket Become A Conviction?

Traffic ticket being written by police officer

It's The Conviction Date That Impacts Your Insurance, Not The Ticket Date

Almost all of us worry immediately about our car insurance as soon as we get a ticket. But it isn’t the actual ticket that impacts your rate; it’s being convicted for a driving offense that does.

Insurers care about the number and severity of driving convictions a driver has within a 3 year period. A ticket becomes a conviction when :

  • You pay the ticket : When you pay your ticket you are pleading guilty of the offense.
  • You are convicted in court : You challenge the ticket in court and lose or get a reduced conviction.
  • You don’t pay the ticket or go to your trial : If you don’t pay your ticket within 15 days of getting the ticket or you don’t go to your trial a Justice of the Peace may convict you of the offense.

The effective date used for the driving offense is the date you were “convicted” of the offense. So the date you pay the ticket or the date you are convicted in court is the date used by insurance companies for the conviction.

You can learn more about tickets and fines at the Ontario Ministry Of The Attorney General website.

How Long Do Traffic Ticket Convictions Stay On Your Driving Record?

Convictions stay on your driving record for 3 years starting from the conviction date. If the conviction impacts a driver’s insurance the increased rates will be reflected upon policy renewal for 3 years. The same thing applies when a conviction falls off of your driving record after 3 years. You will no longer be rated for the conviction and your costs will drop.

Demerit Points Don’t Impact Car Insurance

Generally speaking, insurance companies are not too concerned about demerit points you get for certain driving offences and fines. It’s important that you understand the demerit point system from a driving standpoint.

At the same time, demerit points, including how many you have, can indicate the severity of your driving violation and of your offence.

Severity And Number Of Convictions Determine How Much Your Insurance Goes Up

Almost all driving convictions will impact rates. Parking tickets are the exception and have no impact.

When your policy renews, your provider will check your record to find out if you have any convictions that may impact your costs.

Tabitha Taylor, a paralegal assistant confirmed this in a Globe and Mail article saying, “Your policy and your driving record in the last three years will determine if a ticket is going to impact your insurance. Some companies allow up to two or three convictions before they cause an increase, but it really depends upon your policy.”

The degree to which it will change depends on a few things :

  • The severity of the conviction.
  • The number convictions and their severity.
  • Your providers rules for convictions.

3 Or More Convictions Will Really Increase Your Insurance

Female police officer writing a ticket

Regular or standard insurers have guidelines for the types or drivers they will insure. If you have too many convictions or convictions that are more severe your company may not want to insure you anymore.

Generally 3 or more convictions or a combination of a minor, major and/or serious conviction may mean that your company will likely not renew your policy. You may need high-risk auto insurance.

Check Your Driving Record Before Renewal

If you are unsure of your driving record and the dates of convictions it can be helpful to get a Driver’s Abstract (also called a Driver’s History Report).

This will give you a good idea what you might be facing at renewal time. When you get a quote, be honest about your tickets and convictions, this will help ensure your quote is accurate. Companies will run your reports and modify it based on your driving record.

Stay Conviction Free To Keep Costs Down

There are many factors that impact car insurance prices and being a good driver is one of the most important ones. Driving convictions are an indication of how good a driver you are to companies. Being conviction free helps ensure that you pay less.

  • Don’t get tickets or convictions of any kind.
  • Practice safe driving skills.
  • Follow the road rules at all times.
  • Drive a vehicle that is safe and operating properly.

So stay conviction free to keep your rates as low as possible. If they are impacted by a conviction, it will fall off your driving record after 3 years and they will go down again.

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