Most insurance companies check your driving record for the past three to five years, meaning if you had a violation outside this time period, it will not affect your insurance premiums. Some states regulate this “look-back” period, however, making it longer or shorter. For example, Massachusetts allows insurance companies to look back at 10 years of driving records. Virginia limits insurers to checking only three years of history.
When you apply for, or renew, your auto insurance, the insurance company will evaluate your risk level — how likely you are to cost them money through claims. The best way to do this is by reviewing your driving record. Insurers look for accident reports and both major and minor driving violations.
Minor violations include speeding, failure to stop, improper turns, following too closely, etc. These raise your risk in the eyes of an insurance company because they show you don’t obey traffic laws designed to prevent crashes. In most states, minor traffic violations can be seen on your record for only three years.
Speeding (at least 20 mph over the limit), reckless driving, impaired driving, leaving the scene of an accident, and vehicular manslaughter are examples of major driving violations. They stay on your record longer. In Florida, for example, causing an accident while under the influence stays on your record for 75 years, basically your lifetime. Insurance companies count serious violations and at-fault accidents heavily in setting premiums.
Once the blemishes on your record are older than the look-back period, however, they are no longer a factor in setting your rates. For example, if your insurance company has a look-back period of five years, an accident you had in 2014 would stop affecting your rates in 2019. Your insurance rates should decrease at your next renewal as a result.
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