Now, I'm not sure when and where I first got this notion, but somewhere along the line, I got the impression that if a teen driver (or more specifically, a driver under the age of 25) gets any kind of traffic citation (even just one), his or her rates will skyrocket to the point of being not affordable (not that teen insurance was that affordable anyway). One of the places that strengthened this notion was on teensurance.com: the Teen Auto Insurance Rate Explorer. What I saw on that calculator was pretty frightening. Get just one ticket, and rates can go up by 265% from $484/6 months to $1,287/6 months! I know younger drivers are high risk, but still, talk about ridiculous. Keep in mind, that's with no accidents, no DUIs, a good student discount, old car, high deductible, and low insurance limit. Even with all those factors, a car insurance rate for a young driver can still more than double according to that calculator for just ONE ticket!
I realize insurance companies have different ways of figuring out rate increases, so that calculator might not be entirely accurate, though I have seen some posts online by people who claim the same thing - that getting just one ticket will ruin you if you're under 25. Funny thing is, I've heard of a number of young drivers getting tickets, and their lives don't seem "ruined" by it. Who knows?
Nonetheless, I've always tried to be a careful driver. Not just because of insurance reasons but simply because it's the right thing to do. Still, there have been situations where I've feared I might get a ticket. One of my biggest fears was red-light cameras. Sometimes, those cameras have had a tendency to be triggered unnecessarily, so I wouldn't want to get an unjust ticket. For a while, I avoided red-light intersections altogether whenever possible. These days, I just avoid making right-hand turns at such intersections.
The issue of tickets and car insurance came up with me again in a big way earlier this year when I got a ticket (the only one I've gotten so far in my three years of driving with a license and five years total if you count my learner's permit). I had (and still do to some extent) all these ideas that insurance rates for drivers under 25 would definitely skyrocket beyond control and out of sight - even if it's just one minor ticket. A number of times, I've talked with one of my friends, whose dad works in insurance. One time, I mentioned to him the kind of rates my family has, and his dad thought we were being charged a lot, all things considered.
The company we've had for a number of years now is ANPAC (American National Property and Casualty). When my parents only were on the policy, the rate was somewhere in the neighborhood of about $600/6 months (approximately, I don't really know). When I got on the policy, it went up to $1,070/6 months (which included the good student discount). Then, when I graduated from high school, it went to $1,200/6 months. Then, when I got my 1989 Camry added to the policy last year, the insurance went up to approximately $1,600/6 months. Yes. $1,600 - not a year...but for every 6 MONTHS! And keep in mind, that most of our vehicles are liability-only, we have two older, experienced drivers with clean records, and two of the vehicles are ancient as it is (a 1987 Ford Ranger, a 1989 Toyota Camry, and a 2006 Dodge Stratus). Additionally, my rates have never really gone down, despite turning 21 last year. I know turning 21 isn't as big of a milestone as turning 25, but my friend said that rates usually go down a little by then. Mine didn't go down one single bit. Actually, a few months ago, we did lower the price by lowering the coverage for property damage or whatever. It went from $1,600/6 months to $1,330/6 months. In my opinion, that's still quite a lot. So, if we're being charged this much for old, liability-only cars, and drivers that have had clean records, I'd hate to think how such a company would respond to an under-25 driver getting a ticket. Honestly, I'm quite concerned.
Since I got the ticket when I was 21 (as opposed to a 16-year-old that just recently got a license) and had been driving incident-free for three years, I'd hope that the insurance company might grant me some slight forgiveness - rather than doubling or tripling the insurance rate like I've heard so many stories about just for one ticket. In any event, since I got my ticket, we've renewed our insurance policy once. At that point, the company didn't seem to know about the ticket, as the premium was the same as before, and they didn't show any incidents recorded. However, it was around the same time that my points were actually applied. The next renewal will be in a few months. As I said, I'm quite concerned.