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Would You Pay More For a Traffic Ticket to Keep Your Insurance Premium Down?

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Research Last Updated: 10/31/2012

New Jersey gives you the choice of fines and surcharge or fines and insurance increases.

Additional surcharge or higher insurance premiums?

Would you pay the smaller surcharge to keep violation points from increasing your insurance premium?

If you had the option to add a surcharge on your traffic violation to keep it off your driving record, would you? You can in states like New Jersey, where they give you the option of paying a surcharge on top of your initial traffic violation fine. This surcharge keeps the points from the traffic violation off of your driving record; making you look like a better driver than you really are to your insurance company.

How This New Jersey Surcharge Works

New Jersey allows you to pay a $250 surcharge on top of the fine amount you are charged for two traffic violations in a 5-year period. The surcharge keeps the points from being added to your driving record, kind of like a paid forgiveness program. Nothing in life is free anymore, is it?

If you are silly enough to get 3 or more violations in a 5-year period, New Jersey fines you and starts adding up the points. Because you used up all their forgiveness the first two times, the third violation and anymore after that will add 4 points apiece to your record.

How Would the Surcharge Affect You?

The surcharge that is paid through this program is to keep the points off your driving record; which is what insurance companies use as one of the factors to set your insurance premium. Actually, the driving record is one of the biggest factors that the insurance companies use for your insurance premiums.

Because you have a higher chance of getting into a car accident with your driving behavior, the more points on your driving record, the higher your insurance premium. In some states they eventually revoke your license after so many points, and in other states they do not.

As an example of how your points affect your driving record; when I worked in the assigned risk department for an insurance company, the most points I ever saw on a driving record was 25 points. This person no longer qualified for regular insurance coverage because of how dangerous of a driver they were. So the company was forced, by the government, to give this person insurance, and they made sure that the driver was paying enough to cover any accident they were most likely to get in.

In fact, the premium was so high that it was everything I could do not to point blank ask this person why they didn’t just take the bus. We aren’t talking a couple thousand dollars here, were talking enough to pay for a different, nice, used car every 12 months ($10,000 – $13,000).

If you only had one or two violations, would you pay a surcharge to keep them off your record, so your insurance premium would stay down?

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Michele Wilmonen

Michele's first introduction to insurance was working for a major insurance company as a file clerk and a mailroom supervisor in a regional office. She learned insurance directly from underwriters and claims adjusters from questions and also watching them do their job. Since then, she's earned a number of insurance certifications from the Insurance Institute of America and also a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Idaho. She blogs at Car Insurance Guidebook.

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