Whether you're hitting the road on a holiday weekend or logging miles commuting to and from work, be sure to pay close attention to the posted speed limit signs. Otherwise, a rear view mirror filled with flashing red and blue headlights could lead to more than having to dig out your license and registration.
Get handed a ticket for speeding, and you won't just have to shell out a few hundred dollars for fines and court costs. According to data compiled by Coverhound.com, a speeding ticket can be devastating to your car insurance rates, and the effects can linger for several years after the incident.
Coverhound's data says that a driver with a clean driving history -- no accidents, claims or moving violations for at least five years -- that gets nabbed for speeding will pay dearly. In addition to the fines and fees associated with the ticket, speeding tickets drove up the rates of Coverhound's clients by a whopping 40.23% the first year following the ticket.
And those steep rates hung around. Three years later, drivers were still paying for their lead foot, forking over 21.77% more for car insurance than if they hadn't been caught speeding.
Why The Steep Spike In Rates Lingers After A Ticket
Moving violations such as failing to signal or rolling through a stop sign can make your car insurance company unhappy -- even cause a little uptick in your rates. But it's a speeding ticket, says Billy Van Jura, an insurance broker in Poughkeepsie, NY, that sends a message to your car insurance company that you're a risk.
How much driving mistakes
can cost you
Assuming a clean driving record prior to the incident, here's a look at how a few other mistakes behind the wheel can devastate your car insurance rates:
Accident with bodily injury
First year -- up 54.09%
Third year -- up 42.84%
First year -- up 94.13%
Third year -- up 63.47%
'Generally speaking, a car insurance company sees a speeder as being riskier than non-speeders. Insurance companies think those who speed could be more likely to need to file a claim and cost the insurance company money because, in theory, a person who speeds is found to be riskier overall than those who don't speed because a speeding ticket can also be part of a pattern of tickets that person has received, or will receive. And the violations committed that resulted in the ticket can contribute to or cause an accident,' says Van Jura.
So to try and cover any potential loss resulting from your wild and crazy ways behind the wheel, your car insurance company will slap you with a surcharge -- a penalty premium that you'll pay on top of regular car insurance rates based on your credit score, age, gender, marital status and ZIP code.
How much of a surcharge depends on your car insurance company, but Coverhound's data says more than 40% is average. 'Some companies will surcharge a car insurance policy by 10 to 20%,' says Van Jura.
Recovering From High Rates
All is not necessarily lost if your rates are increased because of a speeding ticket.
'Your rates should absolutely return to your pre-ticket rate after the surcharge penalty period which is typically 36 months but could stretch out as far as 60 months,' says Van Jura. However, there's a catch. 'You will absolutely need to call and request the change back to pre-surcharge rates,' says Van Jura. 'This is especially true if the ticket surcharge period falls in the middle of your policy period instead of when your policy renews.'
The Investing Answer: If you do accidentally space out on the speed limit and get snagged for speeding, throw yourself on the mercy of the court. You may be able to plead down the offense to a non-moving violation, which won't cause your car insurance rates to speed through the roof.
Taking a defensive driving course post-ticket could help shave off a smidge, too. Many insurance companies offer discounts of up to 10% off for completion of the course.