Do Parking Tickets Affect Insurance Rates?

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Car insurance rates are partly based on your driving record. Get a speeding ticket, and you're likely to see your auto insurance rates go up. But what about parking tickets?

There are conditions under which parking tickets could affect your car insurance rates. The key is whether you pay those tickets on time. If you do, a parking ticket should not affect your car insurance.

However, unpaid parking tickets could indirectly affect your insurance rates because they can hurt your credit rating and, under extreme circumstances, even lead to license suspension.

This article will explain what you need to know to prevent parking tickets from raising your insurance rates. Topics covered include:

Do Parking Tickets Affect Your Driving Record or Give You Points?

Most states use a point system to keep track of habitually bad drivers. For example, if you get a speeding ticket you will get a certain number of points put on your driver's license. If you rack up too many points within a limited period, you could face consequences like suspension of your license.

While insurance rates are not directly based on these point systems, car insurance companies do look at the infractions on your record when setting rates.

The good news is that points are typically assessed for moving violations, not for things like illegal parking. Even so, parking tickets could have an effect on your insurance rates if left unpaid because the delinquency lowers your credit score and could lead to license suspension.

When Can Parking Tickets Affect Insurance Rates?

Here are the ways unpaid parking tickets affect car insurance:

How do parking tickets affect insurance?

Failure to pay parking tickets can result in driver's license suspension, which will mark you as a higher-risk driver in the eyes of insurance companies. That higher-risk status means you'll pay more for insurance.

Insurance rates are not directly based on the point systems, but car insurance companies do look at the infractions on your record when setting rates.

Unpaid parking tickets and your credit score

If you fail to pay the fine for that ticket, the government that issued it may use a collection agency to try to get the money from you. Collection agencies report unpaid accounts to credit bureaus. An account that is more than 30 days overdue will go on your credit history if the amount is over $100, and that will stay there for seven years.

In all but a handful of states, insurance companies factor in your credit history when setting insurance rates. Better credit scores generally mean lower rates. That's important to know, because there are circumstances under which unpaid parking tickets could hurt your credit history.

This lasting impact on your credit history could have a long-term effect on your car insurance premiums.

What Kind of Tickets Affect Your Insurance?

As described above, parking tickets can affect your insurance rates, but only indirectly. Traffic tickets that are likely to have a more direct impact on your insurance rates are moving violations.

Things like speeding, running a red light and crossing a double yellow line are examples of moving violations. In most states they will result in points being added to your driving record.

While insurance companies don't base their insurance rates on a state's point system, they do keep track of the same types of violations and consider them risk factors that call for higher insurance rates.

Failure to pay parking tickets can result in driver's license suspension, which will mark you as a higher-risk driver.

Note that tickets for moving violations can add points and impact your insurance rates regardless of whether you pay the fine on time.

Can Private Parking Tickets Increase My Insurance Rates?

What about a ticket assessed by a private security force, such as one patrolling a mall parking lot?

These tickets do not have the same legal force as those issued by police officers. Also they are unlikely to affect your insurance rates unless the security company refers non-payment of fines to a collection agency.

All the same, private security companies do have other forms of recourse against parking violators. These can include having your car towed or putting a locking metal "boot" on a wheel to immobilize your vehicle until you pay the fine. So, you should take care to respect parking regulations in private lots as well as on public streets.

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What Are the Most Common Parking Violations To Watch Out For?

Here are some examples of things that frequently earn drivers a parking ticket:

  • Leaving your car in a fire lane or other no parking zone

  • Parking in front of an expired parking meter

  • Parking too far from the curb

  • Having an expired registration or inspection sticker

  • Parking too close to a fire hydrant

  • Parking too close to an intersection or driveway

  • Blocking a pedestrian crosswalk or a bike lane

  • Failure to heed an alternate-side-of-the-street parking schedule

How Can I Avoid Getting a Parking Ticket?

Here are some tips for avoiding parking tickets:

  • Know your local regulations. Things like how close to a curb or how far from a cross work you have to be vary from place to place. Know the general parking rules in your area, because there usually aren't signs spelling it all out.

  • Check your position before you walk away. After you get out of the car, walk to the sidewalk and take a quick look. Are you close enough to the curb? Are there any no parking signs nearby? How about fire hydrants? A few seconds can save you a lot of money in parking fines.

  • Make sure your parking meter receipt is visible and face up. Newer parking meters don't have individual timers, but use a centralized machine to take payment and issue receipts. These receipts note when the parking permission will expire, and if it's not visible you can get a ticket.

  • Set an alarm on your smartphone if you are in a time-limited parking space. Whether it's metered parking or simply a posted time limit on parking, you can get a ticket if you exceed the allowed time. Set your phone to give you a warning when your time's nearly up.

If an unpaid parking tickets lower your credit score, an insurance company would see you as a higher risk.

Parking Tickets and Insurance: FAQs

How would my insurance company know about my parking ticket?

This could happen two ways. If an unpaid ticket is referred to a collection agency, that may be reflected on your credit report. Also, if your license is suspended because of unpaid tickets, the suspension will show on your driving record.

Why do parking tickets affect insurance rates?

What's the logical connection between parking tickets and car insurance premiums? Remember, parking tickets don't directly affect insurance rates, but credit scores can in most states. This is because insurance companies have found that people with poor credit are more likely to file claims that are out of proportion with the premiums they pay. So, if an unpaid ticket ends up affecting your credit report, an insurance company would have reason to view you as a higher risk.

What if I disagree with the parking ticket?

If you disagree with a parking ticket, the time to dispute it is in local court and before the deadline for paying the fine. Don't simply refuse to pay it and then take it up with your insurance company when they raise your rate. An insurance carrier is only going to go on the facts as they are reflected on your credit history.

How To Fight Back When Your Insurance Rates Rise

If you've seen your insurance rates rise because of an unpaid parking ticket - or for any other reason - it's easy to start to get your rates back down.

Insurance is a very competitive business, and people often find they can find a cheaper quote just by shopping around.

If you'd like to pay less for car insurance, just enter your zip code below and answer a few questions about your car to start finding insurance quotes for a savings up to 40%.

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