Ontario traffic tickets and your car insurance

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by JP Crete May 24, 2019 / No Comments

Let’s face it. Getting traffic tickets are painful. If you’re unfortunate enough to know the feeling of getting pulled over for a traffic infraction, you immediately think about the cost of the ticket and the impact on our next auto insurance bill. Here’s the rundown on how traffic tickets can impact your car insurance in Ontario.

Which Traffic Tickets Impact your Car Insurance?

Ontario drivers might be curious to know if all traffic tickets affect their auto insurance – and, while this is a common question among Ontario drivers – you might be surprised to know that not all traffic tickets will increase your premiums as it is dependent on the type of traffic ticket you are issued.

In Ontario, traffic tickets fall into three broad categories: minor, major, and serious and/or criminal convictions. Each of these categories of tickets can affect your Ontario car insurance quotes, 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 and/or Criminal Conviction

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 a stop sign
  • Driving imprudently

Top 8 traffic tickets that affect insurance rates

Even while the above traffic tickets are categorized according to their severity, there are specific traffic tickets in Ontario that are crucial to avoid due to fines, demerit points, and the impact they have on your car insurance.

  1. Impaired Driving: Consequences for driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants (such as THC) can include criminal charges and jail time. Moreover, you will be labelled a high-risk driver which can make it difficult getting an affordable car insurance quote.
  2. Distracted driving: for your first offence, distracted driving fines start at $615 and 3 demerit points. In Ontario, you can face a fine up to $1,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose – you might also net yourself a 3 day suspension.
  3. Careless driving: careless driving in Ontario will get you 6 demerit points, fines starting at $490-$2000 and possible jail time.
  4. Speeding 50 km/h above the posted limit: This offence could come with additional charges such as street racing, careless driving, and will increase your insurance rates.
  5. Speeding in a school zone or construction zone: Often, speed limits on roadways are reduced during the morning and afternoon bell times in school zones  Speeding in these areas comes with a severe fine starting at $500, 3 demerit points and will increase your insurance rates.
  6. Driving without insurance: The fine for driving without insurance is $5000.00 dollars, plus a surcharge (tax) of approximately 20% for a first offence. Therefore, if you are caught driving without insurance the total fine is $6,250. Where there is a subsequent conviction the fine doubles each time. This will make it very difficult to get insurance if you don’t have it and where available you can expect to be labelled a high risk driver and difficult to get an affordable car insurance quote.
  7. Failure to remain at the scene: Consequences for not remaining at the scene will net you a fine anywhere between $400 – $2000, 7 demerit points, mandatory 30-day license suspension (for novice drivers), possible 2-year suspension, and you can expect a dramatic increase to your insurance rates.
  8. Passing a school bus with its lights flashing: Drivers can be charged if they pass a stopped school bus with its upper red lights flashing. For your first offence, you can expect a $400 to $2,000 fine and 6 demerit points. Each following offence will net you a fine of $1,000 to $4,000, 6 demerit points and possible jail time (up to six months). Also important to know that vehicle owners can be charged if their vehicle illegally passes a stopped school bus, even if they weren’t driving.

What convictions will result in an insurance surcharge?

Most providers have their own policies on how they categorize or charge for driving convictions. As a general rule, the frequency of offences and the severity of convictions on a motorist’s driving record will determine insurance rates and car insurance quotes.

Here are some general guidelines to help you understand the potential impacts of your insurance rates :

  • Serious and/or Criminal Convictions: Insurance rates can double and you might be charged 100% more for each conviction.
  • Major Convictions: Insurance rates typically increase 25% more for each conviction.
  • Minor Convictions :
    • 1 Minor Conviction: in general, a sole minor conviction will have no impact on your rates but you will not be eligible for a conviction-free discount if your provider offers this.
    • 2 Minor Convictions: Some providers charge up to 20% more for 2 or more minor convictions and a subsequent 20% for each additional conviction.

Do red light traffic tickets affect your insurance in Ontario?

It depends on how the ticket is issued. If you are pulled over by a police officer for running a red light, it is considered a minor conviction and if it is your first offence you might not face insurance premium hikes.

On the other hand, red light camera tickets do not affect your insurance because they can’t prove who was driving the vehicle. Red light camera tickets are treated similar parking tickets and will not impact your insurance rates

What happens if you run a stop sign?

Running a stop sign is considered minor traffic conviction, and it is typically processed similarly to a red light ticket. Running a stop sign can impact your car insurance rates, so it is important to consider this in the next time you do a rolling stop.

What is a traffic violation conviction?

Across the board, Insurance providers are concerned about the frequency and severity of driving convictions within a 3 year period. When you are issued a ticket, it becomes a conviction when:

  • You pay the ticket: Paying your ticket means you are pleading guilty of the offence.
  • 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, or you avoid/miss your trial, you’ll likely be found guilty by a Justice of the Peace.

Before pleading guilty or challenging your ticket in court, you might also want to know that convictions stay on your driver’s abstract for 3 years. In other words, your convictions will impact your insurance policy upon renewal for the next 3 years and you could face increases at each renewal depending on your insurer’s policies on convictions.

For more information, you can learn more about tickets and fines at the Ontario Ministry Of The Attorney General website.

What is a high-risk driver?

If you have too many convictions or a severe conviction, your insurance company might label you a high-risk driver or might not want to insure you.

Typically, 3 or more convictions – or a combination of a minor, major and/or serious convictions – will make you a high-risk driver. In this scenario, your insurance company might not renew your insurance policy but refer you to other insurance providers that specialize in high-risk drivers.

If you think you might be labelled a high-risk driver and are having issues getting an affordable auto insurance quote, read our page dedicated to high-risk drivers to learn more.

Best auto insurance companies for high-risk drivers

If you’re in need, you should compare car insurance quotes from the above providers to see who will offer you the best deal.

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The cheapest car insurance rates are reserved for safe drivers

In general, practicing safe and attentive driving will get you the best car insurance quotes and provide you with more options on discounts from reputable auto insurance providers. A clean driver abstract communicates to insurers that you are a low-risk driver and they will reward you with a cheaper car insurance premium.

Ultimately, keeping your car insurance rates low depends on using your common sense when it comes to driving and obeying the rules of the road such as: avoiding any traffic tickets and convictions, practicing safe driving skills, obeying traffic laws and local rules at all times, and ensuring that you are operating safe and well-maintained vehicle.

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