Do seat belt violations affect insurance rates?

Seat belt violations affect insurance rates with increases of three percent on average. This is one of the less severe infractions, and it only stays on your driving record for 2-3 years.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

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 insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Apr 25, 2022

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Were you caught driving without a seat belt? You may be worried about the impact on your car insurance premiums.

Will car insurance rates go up after something minor like a seat belt violation? Or will you continue paying the same rates? Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect after receiving a seat belt ticket.

Do seat belt tickets affect insurance rates?

If you are a driver with a clean record, then getting a single ticket can cause car insurance premiums to rise substantially.

However, not all tickets are treated equally. A ticket for reckless driving, for example, will raise car insurance premiums more than any other ticket. ‘Reckless driving’ is defined as “operating an automobile in a dangerous manner under the circumstances, including speeding…and other careless and dangerous driving behavior.”

DUI violations can also cause car insurance premiums to rise substantially. You can expect car insurance rates to rise by about 20% after a DUI citation.

Driving without a license and careless driving are also tickets that can cause car insurance rates to rise 15% to 20% or more.

Meanwhile, a seat belt violation is unlikely to have a significant effect on insurance premiums. Seat belt violations cause, on average, a 3% rise in insurance premiums. Some drivers will pay the exact same rates after a seat belt violation.

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How Different Tickets Affect Car Insurance Premiums

As reported by Forbes, here’s how different types of tickets affect insurance rates, including the amount your premium can be expected to increase after a single ticket:

  • Reckless Driving: 22%
  • DUI (First Offense): 19%
  • Driving Without a License or Permit: 18%
  • Careless Driving: 16%
  • Speeding (30 mph Over the Speed Limit): 15%
  • Failure to Stop: 15%
  • Improper Turn: 14%
  • Improper Passing: 14%
  • Following Too Close/Tailgating: 13%
  • Speeding (15 to 29 mph Over the Speed Limit): 12%
  • Speeding (1 to 14 mph Over the Speed Limit): 11%
  • Failure to Yield: 9%
  • Driving Without Car Insurance: 6%
  • Seat belt Tickets: 3%

As you can see, if you’re going to get a ticket, then a seat belt violation is the right ticket to get. Drivers across America, on average, will see insurance premiums rise just 3% after a seat belt violation.

For the average driver, that means you’re paying about $50 more per year for car insurance after a single seat belt violation.

Stats vary widely depending on which source you’re using and which state you’re in. In some states, your first DUI or DWI will cause insurance rates to rise around 80%, on average. Reckless driving and highway racing will cause insurance premiums to spike 73% and 71%, respectively. Seat belt violations, however, rarely cause premiums to rise more than 5%.

When will my insurance rates go up?

Typically, insurance premiums won’t rise immediately after you receive your seat belt violation.

Instead, you can expect insurance premiums to rise when your policy is up for renewal. That’s when the car insurance company reviews your driving record and adjusts premium pricing.

How long does a seat belt ticket affect insurance rates?

Generally, any ticket is going to affect your insurance premiums for a minimum of three years.

Some insurance companies go back up to five or seven years, particularly for more serious violations. In California, for example, insurance companies aren’t allowed to offer good driver discounts until at least 10 years have passed since your last DUI.

A seat belt violation, however, shouldn’t affect your record for more than 2 to 3 years. After seven years, your seat belt violation won’t even show up when the insurance company pulls your record from the DMV.

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What about out-of-state seat belt violations?

If you were driving out of state and were caught without a seat belt, then you’re not going to escape punishment.

Most states have reciprocal agreements allowing them to automatically share driver data. 45 states and Washington DC have signed something called the Driver’s License Compact to share driver information across borders. The five states that have not signed the agreement – Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin – still share and receive information just like the other states.

No matter where you received your seat belt violation in America, your seat belt violation will follow you across state lines.

Conclusion: Compare Quotes to Find the Right Insurance Provider

Some insurance companies treat seat belt violations seriously. Your rates might rise 5% to 10% after a single seat belt violation, for example.

If your car insurance premiums have spiked after a seat belt violation or another type of citation, then consider shopping around for a new car insurance provider. You’re generally free to cancel your car insurance at any time and switch to a new provider. Take advantage of this to jump between companies and save money on insurance premiums after your seat belt violation.

Of course, other insurance companies don’t treat seat belt violations seriously at all, and your rates might remain completely unchanged after a seat belt violation. On average, you can expect car insurance rates to rise 3% after a seat belt violation.

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