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Photo radars: do speed camera tickets affect insurance?

Has your insurance increased after a speeding ticket? It might be a good time to compare car insurance quotes to see if you can find a better rate.

According to an article from CTV News, Toronto’s 50 speed enforcement cameras issued over 80,000 speeding tickets in just the first three months of this year. 

If you receive a ticket from one of Ontario’s photo radars, you may wonder whether the camera ticket will impact your future insurance premium. The short answer is no – it doesn’t. The long answer, however, is more complex.  

Key takeaways on speed camera tickets and insurance

  1. If you're issued a speed camera ticket in Ontario, your violation was captured using the province's Automated Speed Enforcement system. The good news is, the system doesn't pick up the exact driver at the moment – so it won't affect your demerit points or your driving record.

  2. Speed camera tickets generally have no impact on your auto insurance rates. Because the violation is not added to your driving history, insurance companies don't factor it in when calculating your premium. 

How do speed cameras work?

Ontario’s Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) is a system of cameras that captures the speed of passing vehicles and issues tickets accordingly in an effort to promote safer driving. But how does a snapshot of your vehicle turn into a ticket mailed directly to your home? 

After the camera detects a speeding vehicle, it records four pieces of information:

  • The vehicle speed
  • The vehicle’s license plate, make, and model
  • The date and time
  • The travelling direction

A provincial offence officer then reviews the information for accuracy. They are the person to determine whether you were actually speeding, and if it’s valid, they will issue a ticket and send it to your address.

Photo radar ticket penalties in Ontario

The main consequence of a speeding ticket from a photo radar is the fine you’ll need to pay. The cost of your ticket will depend on how fast over the speed limit you were travelling, and of course, a faster speed means you’ll be paying more. In Ontario, the fines for speeding can also change depending on where you were speeding. Community safety zones, which are the areas with Automated Speed Enforcement, have more expensive fines than regular roads.  

Camera speeding ticket fines in Ontario

Because photo radars are only set up in community safety zones or school zones, the fines for a camera speeding ticket follow these set fines from the Ontario Court of Justice

The cost of your ticket is calculated using your exact speed during the conviction. For instance, if the speed limit was 40 km/h and you were going 55 km/h, the ticket will cost $75.00 (15km/h multiplied by $5.00 per km). 

That’s not all you’ll have to pay, however, as there is a court cost of $5.00 and the victim fine surcharge (VFS) to add on. The surcharge is added to some fines in Ontario as funding to help victims of crime. It is calculated based on how much your speeding ticket costs in the first place. 

From this, the speeding ticket would actually cost a total of $95.00 with the inclusion of a $15.00 victim fine surcharge and $5.00 court cost. 

Do you get demerit points from speed camera tickets?

No, speeding tickets from a photo radar won’t add any demerit points to your driving record because the camera can’t pick up exactly who was driving the car. The information only allows the ticket to be issued to the vehicle owner. It wouldn’t be fair to add demerit points to the owner’s record for a mistake a friend or spouse made when borrowing their car. 

READ: Do demerit points impact your car insurance?

Do speed camera tickets go on your driving history?

No, just like demerit points, the ticket will not be added to your driving history because the camera doesn’t pick up the driver. Getting pulled over for speeding by the police is completely different, as a physical person is able to identify who was speeding at the time.

READ: How to check your Ontario driver’s history

Do speeding tickets from cameras affect your insurance?

Speeding tickets from a photo radar generally have no impact on your car insurance quote because they are not added to your driver’s history. 

When renewing your auto insurance or applying for a new policy, insurers will often look at your driver’s history within the last three years to determine your risk level. 

It’s no surprise that having speeding convictions on your record can increase your insurance premium, if your insurer finds out, as it shows you are more likely to need a payout from an accident claim. But your provider won’t have access to the information from camera speeding tickets as it doesn’t pick up who was driving at the time. Therefore, you only need to worry about the ticket itself and not the cost of your auto insurance.

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What happens if you have unpaid speed camera tickets? 

As the owner of your vehicle, you’re responsible for paying off any speed camera tickets, even if you weren’t the one driving. If you refuse or forget to pay a ticket, the fine will be added to your vehicle license, meaning you’ll have to pay it to renew your plate when it’s time. Otherwise, you won’t be able to drive around legally in Ontario as a valid license plate sticker is required.

Can you fight a speed camera ticket in court?

Yes, like any regular ticket, you can fight a speed camera ticket in court if you feel it was a mistake or the fine is too substantial. With photo radar tickets, however, there isn’t any penalty towards your demerit points, driving record, or insurance so it may not be worth your time or effort. Hiring legal representation to help with the dispute might also financially outweigh the cost of your ticket in the end, so consider your options clearly. 

The bottom line

Although speed camera tickets aren’t something to celebrate, it’s nice to know that you won’t need to worry about your insurance premiums increasing. If you’re interested, read our blog post on how regular speeding tickets impact your auto insurance