Does your insurance increase after a ticket in Ontario?

13 minute read Published on Jan 28, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Does your insurance increase after a ticket in Ontario?

Have you ever found yourself glancing in the rearview mirror, heart racing, as you notice a police car signalling you to pull over? For many drivers, receiving a traffic ticket is an all-too-familiar scenario. But beyond the immediate inconvenience and fine, a lingering question often remains: how will this ticket affect my car insurance rates?

In this blog, we delve into how traffic violations can impact your insurance premiums. From minor infractions to major offences, we’ll help you understand what you can expect from your insurance provider after receiving a ticket.

How Ontario traffic tickets affect car insurance premiums

Did you know that it’s the conviction for a driving offence, not the mere issuance of a ticket, that affects your insurance rates? Insurance companies use the date of conviction to assess the impact, not the ticket issue date.

A ticket becomes a conviction when:

  • You pay it (admitting guilt)
  • You are convicted in court
  • You fail to pay the ticket or attend court date

In Ontario, traffic tickets can be broadly categorized into three types: minor offences, major offences, and serious or criminal offences. Each category has different implications for drivers, particularly regarding fines, demerit points, and insurance rates:

Minor traffic offences

One minor conviction typically doesn’t impact rates, but it does disqualify you from a conviction-free discount. Two minor driving convictions can lead to a 20% increase, with additional driving convictions incurring similar increases.

Minor traffic offences are common and include violations such as:

  • Speeding
  • Red light camera tickets
  • Stop sign violations
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Failing to surrender a license
  • Carrying an invalid insurance card
  • Improper use of headlights
  • Making an unsafe lane change

Major traffic offences

A major conviction will guarantee an increase in your insurance premiums. In fact, each major conviction may result in a 25% increase in rates as these are more serious and carry heavier penalties.

Major traffic offences include:

  • Failing to report a vehicle accident
  • Failing to stop for an emergency vehicle
  • Driving without insurance
  • Improper passing of a school bus
  • Speeding
  • Various infractions related to G1 and M1 licence holders, like driving unaccompanied or at prohibited times.

Serious or criminal traffic offences

Serious or criminal traffic convictions are the most serious types of driving convictions and often result in legal action and immediate suspension of the driver’s licence. As such, they can lead to a 100% increase in insurance rates per conviction.

Examples of serious or criminal traffic offences include:

  • Criminal negligence or manslaughter involving a motor vehicle
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
  • Dangerous or “stunt” driving
  • Street racing
  • Failing to stop at the scene of an accident
  • Driving with a suspended licence

What insurance companies consider after you receive a speeding ticket

The severity of the offence and how many tickets you’ve had are factors that insurance companies consider when it comes time to renew your car insurance. As these factors have a significant impact on your car insurance premiums, it’s important to understand the extent of this effect. Here’s a detailed breakdown of how these factors can affect your insurance rates:

Severity of the offence

The impact on your car insurance premium depends on how serious the speeding violation is. In Ontario, speeding tickets are generally categorized based on how many kilometres per hour over the speed limit you were driving.

Minor speeding tickets usually have a less severe impact compared to major offences. Extremely serious or criminal offences can lead to significant premium increases.

Frequency of Tickets

The more speeding tickets you have, the higher the risk you pose to an insurer. Too many speeding tickets within a short time frame can result in a substantial increase in your insurance rates.

One thing worth noting is that while insurance companies don’t directly use demerit points to calculate premiums, accumulating points can indicate risky driving behaviour, so this could lead to higher premiums.

Each insurance company has its own method of assessing risk and calculating premiums. Some may be more lenient with a first minor speeding offence, while others may increase premiums after a single minor speeding ticket.

If you have a clean driving record, your insurance rates may not increase as much after a single speeding ticket. However, drivers with a history of violations or claims are likely to see a more significant increase.

If you accumulate a high number of convictions or particularly serious ones, your insurer might decide against continuing your coverage. Typically, having three or more convictions or a mix of minor, major, and/or serious offences could lead to your insurance provider choosing not to renew your policy. You may then have to find an insurance company that offers high-risk car insurance.

While paying the fine for a speeding ticket may seem like the end of the matter, the long-term financial impact through increased insurance premiums can be significant. Ontario drivers should always be aware of the consequences of speeding, not just from a legal standpoint but also in terms of their insurance costs.

Here’s how much speeding costs you in Ontario

In Ontario, the cost of speeding tickets varies based on how much you exceed the speed limit, and these fines can significantly impact your budget. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the fines for different speeding ranges as of 2023:

  • 1 to 19 km/h over the posted speed limit: $3 per kilometre
  • 20 to 29 km/h over the limit: $4.50 per kilometre
  • 30 to 49 km/h over the limit: $7.00 per kilometre
  • 50 km/h or more over the limit: $9.75 per kilometre

If you’re found guilty of speeding, fines aren’t the only consequence; you’ll also accumulate demerit points. Specifically, you’ll receive:

  • Three demerit points for exceeding the speed limit by 16 to 29 km/h.
  • Four demerit points for speeding 30 to 49 km/h over the limit.
  • Six demerit points for driving more than 50 km/h above the speed limit.

Keep in mind that these fines do not include any additional court costs and fees. Moreover, fines can be doubled in community safety and construction zones with workers present. These costs highlight the financial impact of speeding in Ontario and serve as a deterrent to encourage safer driving practices.

Which Ontario traffic tickets affect your car insurance the most?

In Ontario, certain traffic tickets can significantly impact your car insurance rates more than others. While your goal is to avoid getting any tickets, these will leave more significant impacts on your car insurance rates as well as holes in your wallet:

Impaired driving (DUI)

Driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants, including THC, can result in criminal charges, jail time, and being labelled a high-risk driver. This offence can dramatically increase insurance rates and may even make it difficult to obtain insurance or obtain affordable insurance.

Distracted driving

Fines for distracted driving, texting or using your phone start at $615 and can include three demerit points. If a summons is received or you lose a court case, the fine can increase to $1,000, along with a possible 3-day suspension.​

Careless driving

Careless driving in Ontario leads to six demerit points, fines between $490 and $2,000, and possible jail time. This offence is taken seriously and can significantly increase your insurance rates.

Speeding 50 km/h above the limit

This offence can be linked with additional charges, such as street racing and careless driving, leading to a steep increase in insurance rates.

Driving without insurance

The fine for this offence is $5,000 plus a 20% surcharge for a first offence, totalling $6,250. Repeat offences see this fine double, and being caught without insurance can make it very difficult to obtain coverage in the future.

Failure to remain at the scene

Not staying at the scene of an accident can result in fines between $400 and $2,000, seven demerit points, a mandatory 30-day licence suspension for novice drivers, a possible 2-year suspension, and a significant increase in insurance rates.

Passing a school bus with flashing lights

For a first offence, the fine ranges from $400 to $2,000 with six demerit points. Subsequent offences can lead to fines between $1,000 and $4,000, six demerit points, and possible jail time. Vehicle owners can also be charged if their vehicle illegally passes a stopped school bus, even if they aren’t driving.

What happens if I don’t tell my insurance company about a traffic conviction?

If you don’t inform your insurance company about a traffic conviction, you risk increased insurance premiums upon renewal, issues with future claims, and even cancellation or non-renewal of your policy.

Basically, it’s always best to tell your insurance provider upfront. Let’s take a more detailed look at what can happen if you hide a traffic conviction from your insurance company.

Insurance companies often check your driving record at renewal time or when you file a claim. If they discover a conviction you haven’t disclosed, this could lead to issues. For starters, non-disclosure can lead to a loss of trust between you and your insurer, which can then lead to long-term implications for your relationship with them.

Your insurer may also retroactively increase your Ontario car insurance premiums to account for the added risk they were unknowingly insuring. This increase can be significant, especially for serious convictions.

In some cases, failure to disclose a traffic conviction, especially a serious one, can be considered a violation of your policy’s terms. This could lead to the cancellation of your policy or refusal to renew it, and getting insurance after a cancellation can be more difficult and expensive.

Furthermore, if you file a claim and your insurer discovers undisclosed convictions, they may decide to deny your claim, especially if they believe that the risk associated with the undisclosed conviction would have led to a different insurance decision.

Can I protect my Ontario car insurance from increasing after a traffic conviction?

Protecting your car insurance rates from increasing after a traffic conviction can be challenging, but there are a few strategies and considerations that might help. However, while the following strategies can help, there’s no guaranteed way to prevent an increase in your insurance premiums after a traffic conviction. Here are a few ways to help protect your car insurance rates from increasing after receiving a ticket:

Safe driving record

Maintaining a clean driving record is the most effective way to keep your insurance rates low. If you have a long history of safe driving, your insurer might be more lenient with a minor conviction.

Minor conviction protection coverage

Some insurers offer add-on coverage that protects your premiums from increasing after your first minor traffic conviction. This coverage is usually available to drivers with a good driving record.

Accident forgiveness coverage

This is a type of coverage that some insurers offer to prevent your insurance rates from increasing after your first at-fault accident. While this is more about accidents than traffic tickets, it’s part of a strategy to manage your overall insurance costs.

Consult with your insurance broker

Before a conviction goes on your record, discuss your options with your insurance broker. They might offer advice specific to your policy or situation. They can also help you shop around for insurance, as different insurers have different policies regarding traffic convictions, and you might find a more favourable rate elsewhere.

Avoid further convictions

Ensure you avoid any further traffic convictions, as multiple tickets or violations can significantly increase your insurance premiums.

Does car insurance cover traffic tickets?

No. While liability car insurance is mandatory in Ontario, it does not cover the cost of traffic tickets. Traffic tickets are considered the responsibility of the driver who incurred them. Paying for traffic tickets or fines resulting from violations of traffic laws is not included in the coverage provided by standard car insurance policies.

A basic car insurance policy in Ontario includes the following types of coverage:

Third-Party Liability

This covers damages you might cause to another person or their property while driving. Third-party liability insurance is legally required in Ontario, and the minimum coverage is $200,000, although most drivers opt for higher limits.

Statutory Accident Benefits

This coverage provides benefits if you are injured in an auto accident, regardless of who is at fault. Accident benefits coverage includes medical treatment, rehabilitation costs, lost income due to inability to work, and other expenses related to the injury.

Uninsured Automobile Coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured driver or a hit-and-run driver.

Direct Compensation - Property Damage (DC-PD)

This covers damage to your vehicle or its contents in an accident where you are not at fault under certain conditions, and it’s based on the percentage of fault in the accident.

While car insurance covers many scenarios, it does not pay for fines or penalties, including those resulting from traffic tickets. It’s designed to protect you from financial losses due to accidents, theft, or other covered risks, not as a cover for legal penalties. Having optional comprehensive or collision car coverage can also help protect you financially.

How motor vehicle accidents can affect your insurance premiums

Car accidents can significantly affect your car insurance premiums, depending on the nature of the accident and your driving history. If you are at fault in a collision, it can remain on your driving record for up to six years, potentially increasing your premium by as much as 25% at renewal.

However, if you are not at fault, your rates are unlikely to rise. Insurance companies determine fault based on a set of guidelines, and this determination is crucial in assessing the impact on your insurance rates.

Your driving history plays a crucial role in how an accident affects your premiums. For drivers with a clean record, typically encompassing six years of claims-free and conviction-free driving, insurers may not significantly increase premiums after a first at-fault accident. This leniency is often part of a policy’s first claims forgiveness feature.

Conversely, if you’re found at fault for another collision within five years or if you accumulate multiple at-fault accidents or convictions, you can expect a considerable premium hike. In severe cases, you may be categorized as a high-risk driver, leading to even higher premiums or difficulty obtaining car insurance.

Non-collision claims under comprehensive coverage, like theft or vandalism, generally don’t affect premiums if you’re not at fault, but frequent claims can lead to increased deductibles or loss of coverage. Additionally, if someone else causes an at-fault accident in your car, it can impact your insurance record and premiums.

To mitigate potential rate increases for at-fault accidents, some insurers offer accident forgiveness insurance, which can be a valuable add-on for drivers concerned about the impact of claims on their rates.

Final thoughts

The question of whether your insurance increases after a ticket is one that concerns many drivers, especially when considering the complexities of car insurance in Toronto, Vancouver, or elsewhere in Canada.

As we’ve explored in this blog, the impact of a ticket on your insurance depends on the type and severity of the violation. While shopping around for insurance quotes, it’s vital to consider how different providers view traffic infractions, especially if you’re managing multiple auto insurance policies.

Staying informed and cautious on the road is the best strategy to maintain affordable premiums and ensure your driving record remains as clean as possible. Always drive safely and be aware of the long-term implications of traffic tickets on your insurance costs.

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What happens to your Ontario insurance rates following speeding tickets?

Speeding tickets can increase your insurance rates, especially if they are for significant amounts over the limit. Minor infractions may have a smaller impact, but repeated offences or major speeding violations can lead to substantial rate increases.

How do speed camera tickets affect my insurance?

Speed camera tickets can affect your insurance rates similar to regular speeding tickets, especially if they indicate habitual speeding or major infractions. However, the impact might vary depending on the insurance provider’s policies and the specifics of the violation.

When will I be classified as a high-risk driver?

You may be classified as a high-risk driver if you have multiple at-fault accidents, a history of serious traffic violations like Driving Under the Influence or reckless driving, or numerous minor infractions and tickets within a short period. This classification results in higher insurance premiums.

How much do convictions for tickets increase insurance?

The increase in insurance rates due to convictions varies. For serious or criminal convictions, rates can increase by 100%. Major convictions might result in a 25% increase, while two minor convictions can lead to a 20% increase, with additional convictions incurring similar hikes. Each insurance company may have their own guidelines when it comes to increased premiums for ticket holders.

How does distracted driving impact my premium?

Distracted driving, which includes activities like texting or using a phone while driving, can significantly impact your insurance premium. This offence is taken seriously due to its high risk, and being convicted of distracted driving can lead to a substantial increase in your insurance rates.

When does an Ontario traffic ticket become a conviction?

A driving ticket in Ontario becomes a conviction when you pay the ticket, thereby admitting guilt, are convicted in court, or fail to pay or attend your court hearing. The date of conviction is what insurance companies use to assess its impact on your rates.

How long do traffic ticket convictions stay on your record?

In Ontario, traffic ticket convictions typically stay on your driving record for three years from the date of conviction. The duration these convictions affect your insurance rates is also generally around three years, after which they no longer influence your premium, assuming no new convictions occur.

Do parking tickets affect my car insurance?

No, a parking ticket does not affect your insurance rate. In Ontario, parking tickets are non-moving violations, and insurance rates are typically influenced by factors that demonstrate your risk as a driver, such as at-fault accidents and moving violations.

How much will three demerit points affect my Ontario insurance?

Insurance companies don’t directly use demerit points to determine premiums. However, the underlying conviction like a speeding ticket that resulted in the points can lead to increased rates.

How long does a speeding ticket stay on your record in Ontario?

In Ontario, a speeding ticket stays on your record for three years from the date of conviction. After three years, the speeding ticket is removed from your record, assuming no new convictions occur.

If you have any questions, contact one of our local branches.