Traffic convictions have a significant impact on your car insurance rates, based on the severity of the conviction. There are three main tiers of traffic convictions: minor, major, and severe (criminal). Understandably, many drivers will get one or two minor convictions here and there. However, the major and severe convictions are the ones to avoid, as they can take a toll on your insurance rates.
The following are some of the notable factors to keep in mind:
Whats the Difference Between a Ticket and a Conviction in Ontario
There’s a difference between getting a ticket and a conviction. A ticket is what you get when you’re pulled over by law enforcement for violating a traffic rule. A conviction, on the other hand, is when you’re found guilty of this violation.
A traffic violation typically remains on your driver’s record for 3 years from the date you got the conviction, not the date you were given the ticket. The date you’re officially convicted can be the day you paid your ticket, the day you were found guilty in court in case you choose to dispute the ticket, or the day you plead guilty to the violation without disputing the ticket.
Most insurance companies tend to focus on the conviction dates when deciding whether or not to insure you and your vehicle. They will always assess the risk factors. As such, the more convictions you have, the higher the risk you bring, and the more you will likely pay to insure your car. The same applies to the severity of your conviction.
For instance, if you were caught using your mobile phone while driving, which is generally considered a major infraction by most insurance companies. Consequently, a conviction will affect you just as much as having multiple minor convictions.
Insurance Companies Only See Your Convictions in Ontario
Insurance companies will only see your convictions if you tell them, or if they pull a copy of your driver’s abstract and your infractions are listed there. Nonetheless, it’s recommended that you disclose all your convictions to the insurance company because if you fail to do so, and they end up being discovered, your policy might get canceled.
Most insurance companies usually wait until the next time they have to renew your policy to pull your report or add a conviction. So, you won’t see a midterm increase in your premiums. But if you accrue too many convictions within a policy term, it may cause the company to refuse to renew your policy, meaning they won’t offer to continue covering you and your vehicle for another term.
Some of the most common convictions that we come across on drivers’ abstracts are speeding (49 km/h or less above the posted speed limit), failure to carry your insurance card, failure to obey a traffic sign, failure to wear a seatbelt, etc. All these are considered minor convictions.
Examples of major convictions include speeding (driving 50 km/h above the speed limit), using a handheld device while driving, and failure to stop for an emergency vehicle or school bus. A few criminal convictions that can be found on a driver’s report include driving with a suspended license, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and driving without insurance.
Keep in mind that if you have no convictions on your record, you may be entitled to a discount on your car insurance. While the addition of one minor ticket to your driving record might not lead to a significant change, you could see a slight increase in your premiums since you’ll have lost your conviction-free discount.
Some insurers offer conviction protection coverage. Just as with accident forgiveness, this coverage lets you, for one time only, get a ticket without affecting your premium whatsoever. But when you use this coverage, it will be removed from your policy. Unfortunately, not all companies offer this, so be sure to ask your broker or agent for more information.
Convictions and tickets are often associated with gaining demerit points. Note that demerit points usually don’t affect your insurance, but they will affect your license status. Consider checking up our province’s website to learn more about the ins and outs of this.
Convictions are preventable. But if you end up getting one, don’t forget that it won’t stick around forever. Plus, if you do get a ticket, consider contacting your insurance agent or broker to discuss. We can provide you with detailed information about how the conviction will affect you. We can double-check with the insurance companies, while most other third parties cannot. We are always more than happy to help. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.
Reach out to us at 1(905) 335-6925 for a free estimate.