Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florid...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Nov 12, 2020

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Nobody wants to pay more than they have to for car insurance.

Companies love to advertise how you can save with one of their policies.

They aren’t always as forthcoming about what factors might lead you to pay more.

Factors like where you live, where you work, and the kind of car you drive will impact how much you pay.

However, there isn’t much you can do to change those factors without potentially upending your life.

On the other hand, some really dumb mistakes that drivers often make can cause their car insurance to skyrocket.

It is those mistakes that I’ll focus on in this article, as they are easily avoidable.

Below is the amount you may pay year-by-year if you make one or more of the following mistakes: 

MistakeChangeYearly increase
Drinking & drivingYou could pay from 30 to 50% more for a premium. $1,500*
Unsafe driverIncrease in coverage by 20% or more.$800
Low credit scorePremiums can increase by 15%$350
Driving without coverageLimited to insurers, premiums are increased by 25 to 50%.$1,500
Not shopping aroundPolicyholders lose 18% by not shopping around. $425
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*$4,500 over three years.

Drinking and Driving

With just one DUI, you can kiss any chance of getting a decent quote goodbye.

Not only is drinking and driving risky and dangerous to you and other drivers, but it is also a surefire way to pay more for a premium.


A DUI on your driving record can easily double your premium.

It immediately places you into the highest risk category.

Some providers may refuse to offer you coverage.

Below is the average increase in coverage by year: 

StateYearly IncreaseStateYearly Increase
Colorado$1,655New Mexico$1,032
Connecticut$1,122New York$1,943
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For example, if you live in Arizona, you’ll pay $3,699 more for coverage over the next three years.

Rather than renewing your insurance, your insurance carrier may cancel it because of that DUI.

You will get about 30- to 45 days notice of the cancelation.

With a DUI on your record, insurance providers must submit an SR-22 or FR-44 form on your behalf.

This service isn’t offered by all providers, which limits your options when shopping around.

What are the SR-22 and FR-44 forms?

An SR-22 is a form that your insurance provider files on your behalf to verify that you have a policy that meets the state’s minimum auto liability coverage requirements.

Most drivers will never need to worry about SR-22 forms.

They are usually only required for drivers who have a DUI conviction, got into an accident while uninsured, or have had their licenses suspended.

Below is the amount you’ll pay by the state when filing an SR-22.

StateAverage RateSR-22Percent
North Carolina$1,170$5,563375%
North Dakota$1,123$2,00378%
New Hampshire$1,156$2,00874%
New Jersey$1,419$3,851171%
New Mexico$1,498$2,73583%
New York$1,214$1,85453%
Rhode Island$2,011$3,62780%
South Carolina$1,353$2,37976%
South Dakota$1,250$2,24780%
West Virginia$1,467$2,76789%
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If you live in Virginia or Florida, your company needs an FR-44 document instead of an SR-22.

While the two documents are similar in their purpose, an FR-44 requires liability coverage to be significantly higher than state minimums.

Depending on your state, a DUI can stay on your driving record for as long as ten years.

That means you’ll be paying through the roof for nearly a decade to get basic coverage under a high-risk policy.

It goes without saying that drinking and driving is a really dumb mistake, especially for those looking to pay less for auto insurance.

The next time you’re out getting a drink, take an Uber home.

The little you spend on the ride will save you hundreds if not thousands on your premium.

Being an Unsafe Driver (Tailgating / Speeding / Texting While Driving)

Whether you’re tailgating, speeding, or texting and driving, you’re putting yourself at risk of an accident or a ticket.

Either way, you’re giving companies a reason not to give you an affordable quote.

A ticket for a tailgating violation alone can increase your rates by as much as 10%.

Below are common offenses and the percentage increase to your monthly auto premium:

OffensePercent Increase
Reckless driving73%
Illegal turn20%
Failure to stop19%
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When you factor in the accident that likely resulted in you getting a tailgating ticket, you can count on your next auto insurance quote is higher than you’d like.

In most cases, speeding might get you to your destination a few minutes early.

Those few minutes, though, could cost you dearly.

As if the fines and fees that come with speeding tickets aren’t bad enough, you’ll also have to deal with increased costs.

Insurance companies usually add a surcharge to your premium once a speeding ticket hits your record.

Those additional surcharges will stick with you for a few years, depending on your state.

That means that even if you shop around, you’re still going to pay more for car insurance.

How much more will you pay for insurance if you get a speeding ticket?

While the impact a speeding ticket has on your premium’s cost depends on your state, you can count on paying more.

The impact a speeding ticket has on premiums depends on the following:

– How many speeding tickets you’ve gotten in the last three to five years

– How severe the speeding violation was

On average, you can expect to pay as much as 33% more for car insurance if you’ve got 3 tickets for driving 16 to 20 mph over the speeding limit.

We can’t talk about unsafe driving without mentioning texting and driving.

It goes without saying that texting while driving will put you at risk of a dangerous accident.

Aside from the obvious danger, driving while texting can also put you on the fast track to paying more for a monthly premium.

Your insurance carrier will know the ticket is due to texting and driving.

This is just as bad as excessive speeding.

One ticket for texting while driving can increase insurance quotes by as much as 25%.

I’ve included states which add “points” if you are busted driving and texting:

Alabama2 Nevada4
Colorado4New York5
Florida3New Jersey3
Georgia1Nevada4 after 2nd violation
Missouri2 (under 21)West Virginia3
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A driver texting ticket could cost you more on insurance surcharges than a speeding ticket in many states.

Ruining their credit

Believe it or not, your credit score does impact how much you pay for a premium.

According to providers, those with good credit are less likely to file claims.

The claims that they do file are often less costly than claims filed by those with poor credit.

Your renewal premium can also change if your credit has increased and decreased if the carriers run reports at renewals.

Below are examples of how your credit affects your premium:

State*Poor (300-579)DifferenceExcellent (800-850)
New Jersey$2,31831%$1,765
North Carolina$2,49836%$1,832
North Dakota$1,65533%$1,243
South Carolina$2,01535%$1,487
South Dakota$2,28252%$1,498
West Virginia$2,09574%$1,200
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*I randomly chose states and compared quotes with poor and excellent credit from various insurers.

They use that data to justify using a credit-based insurance score to determine how much you will pay for your policy.

How is my credit-based insurance score calculated?

Your credit-based insurance score is different than the credit score that lenders use.

However, it is calculated using similar factors.

While your score also depends on your accident and violation history, the following financial factors also have an impact:

– The length of your credit history

– Number of past-due accounts or late payments

– Your credit utilization (number of maxed-out accounts)

– Number of accounts in collection

If you’re struggling with a low credit-based insurance score, the best way to improve it is to pay off your balances on-time and temporarily avoid applying for a new loan or credit card.

Driving without Insurance / Letting Your Car Insurance Lapse

Driving without insurance might be tempting, especially if you’re already facing increased rates for a DUI or other violations.

As tempting it may be, it is truly a dumb choice to make.

For one, it is illegal in most states to drive without any form of car insurance.

What happens when you drive without coverage? Illustrated above are issues you will have if you are caught driving without proper coverage. You will damage your driving record, SR-22 filing, higher premiums for 3 years+, suspended license, fines, and/or jail time. You could get all or a combination of any of the above.

You’ll most certainly face a hefty fine if caught, and you could potentially have your license suspended.

If you get into an accident while driving without insurance, you can also count on being classified as a high-risk driver.

That means you’ll be paying quite a bit more for a premium for at least a few years.

It’s not uncommon for drivers with a DUI to face a lapse in coverage.

Insurers may not renew the policy of drivers with a DUI on their record.

Without searching for a high-risk policy ahead of time, those drivers will likely be left scrambling and without insurance at some point.

Not shopping around

Not shopping around might be the dumbest mistake any driver could make.

It is easier than ever to compare quotes between local and national companies.

Premiums can vary by more than $2,000 in most states.

That means you could pay two grand extra for your policy if you don’t compare insurance quotes!

Below I’ve outline reasons your premium could decrease just by shopping around:

Reasons to shop around
Companies frequently change their rates.
New insurers may be available to get a lower rate.
Tickets may have fallen off your record.
Your credit score could have increased.
States change laws from time to time.
"New" customers can get a better rate.
Your vehicle loses value over time.
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Your local salesperson might appear to be the nicest person you’ve met.

That doesn’t mean you should blindly trust them and give them your business without shopping around.

Using an online comparison tool will help you make sure you get the best deal possible on coverage.

In fact, I recommend using one of the comparison tools before you initiate contact with your local agent.

Should I stay local with my provider?

In almost every situation, the answer to this question is no.

At the very least, you should shop for and compare quotes once each year.

Some providers will offer loyalty discounts, but in most cases, they won’t unless you ask.

Many companies actually rely on algorithmic price-increase formulas to determine how much of a yearly premium increase you’ll tolerate before choosing to shop around.

That practice leads to loyal customers paying more.

That’s why it doesn’t pay to be loyal.

Long story short: shop around yearly!

In summary

How do you keep your premium from increasing?

You can keep your premiums to a minimum by avoiding the mentioned mistakes and instead, do the following:

1. Avoid drinking and driving. If you’re out on the town and have a drink, call a taxi or an Uber.

The small price you pay for an Uber drive is nothing compared to the price you will pay if you got a DUI from insurance to lawyers.

2. Be a safe driver. Get an app that auto-replies to text messages while you’re driving. Stay close to the speed limit and keep a safe distance from the cars in front of you.

3. Maintain good credit. If you’re struggling with poor credit, do what you can to clean it up.

4. Never drive without insurance. It’s not worth the risk.

5. Shop around at least once each year.





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