By now I hope everyone has been well schooled on the need to avoid points on their license. Points, of course, are how insurance companies determine how to set your rates. More points= higher premiums.
But are points the only factor insurance companies use? Hardly. And here's the important point to take away from this post.
With the creation of newer types of tickets that don't carry points (HOV violations and Red Light Camera tickets), the insurance industry has had to tweak their formula on how they decide to raise your rates. Hint: It involves tickets that do not carry points.
Years ago, life was simple in the auto insurance world. You got points, your rates would go up. No points, and you were in pretty good shape (assuming no accidents).
Points were also the standard the state would use to weed out the good drivers from bad. More points, they figured, meant you were a driver they needed to keep an eye on, and at some point, (no pun intended) once you hit a certain threshold, they would suspend your license.
That system worked for years. But then, greed took hold in the form of tickets that did not carry points. These were easier to push through the legislature because they did not affect a person's ability to drive as long as that person kept paying them (which would not be the case for tickets that carry points)
And, of course, one of these tickets, in particular, the red light camera ticket, was sold as a panacea to all the cities who were starved for cash and looking for a quick fix. Instead of having to hire and train police officers, which can get expensive, (what with pensions and health care), private companies pounced on the opportunity to tell the cities they would install the expensive equipment and do all the heavy lifting, if the cities would provide one police officer in an air-conditioned room to watch video all day and sign off on the tickets.
Millions of dollars later, the losers in all this were the insurance companies who were missing out on their piece of the pie because these tickets don't carry points. No problem there, they just adjusted their formula to include paid tickets that appeared as convictions on a driver's record.
What's a person to do? You guessed it.
FIGHT BACK! (you knew that was coming, didn't you?)
By not paying the ticket, and by choosing to fight it, you stand a very good chance of keeping a conviction from appearing on your driving record, which should keep your insurance from going up.
Keep in mind, for red light camera tickets only, if you receive what's called a "notice of violation" and are given the option of paying $158, if you choose this option, you will not have any mark on your driving record. What I'm talking about, are the situations where you never received the notice of violation and receive the uniform traffic citation telling you to pay $277 or you do not want to pay the $158 and want to fight your ticket.
Please note: If you decide to fight your red light camera ticket, I AM NOT telling you to fight them in the kangaroo courts the local cities have just set up to confuse people into thinking they are actually getting a fair shake.
No, I'm talking about fighting your red light camera ticket in a "real" court of law, with a "real" judge and "real" due process. The ONLY way you will be able to get to a "real" court of law is to ignore your Notice of Violation and wait until you receive a Uniform Traffic Citation.
Now, because I obviously don't work for an insurance company, I decided to do some research. I went ahead and asked insurance agent/adjuster Jonathan Rausch, and he told me, "yes" when I asked if a person's rates would increase if they had a conviction for one of these "no point" tickets.
Only by fighting a ticket and getting it either dismissed completely or getting the adjudication withheld can you stand a chance to keep your insurance low.
So now, more than ever, it's incumbent on people who get a ticket to fight the ticket and not "give in" and just pay it. By fighting the ticket yourself, or by hiring a lawyer, you will be protecting your insurance premium for years from needless increases.
If you have a Florida traffic ticket, one that carries points or not, and would like an opinion about it for FREE, please give me a call at 866-374-8355 and I or my staff will be happy to review it with you and tell you what we think would be in your best interest.