Reckless driving is considered a major traffic offense that shows an insurer you are at high risk of causing an accident. As a result, car insurance rates go up dramatically after a reckless driving conviction. Just how much your premiums increase depends on factors like your state, insurer, and driving history.
This guide examines data on average rate hikes nationally and by state after a reckless driving ticket. We’ll also highlight steps to minimize the insurance impact and recover from a reckless driving violation quickly. Having a clear understanding of consequences can help you make smarter choices behind the wheel.
What is Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving is typically defined by state law as operating a vehicle with deliberate disregard for public safety and traffic laws. It goes beyond ordinary speeding, distractions, or errors in judgement. Prosecutors must prove a motorist drove in a willful or wanton manner that threatened others.
Some common reckless behaviors leading to convictions include:
Excessive speeding – Going over 100 mph or twice the limit
Passing illegally – Using shoulders or double yellow lines
Impaired driving – DUI combined with dangerous actions
Aggressive swerving between lanes
Tailgating or brake-checking
Failure to yield or signal turns
Reckless driving is a more serious misdemeanor or felony charge than a routine traffic violation. It remains on a criminal background check and driver’s record for years.
Average Car Insurance Increases Nationwide
Most insurers consider a reckless driving conviction a major violation that makes you high-risk. State Farm, Geico, Progressive and Allstate all hike rates over 70% on average after a reckless ticket based on internal data.
Our analysis of top auto insurers shows a reckless driving ticket leads to average premium increases of:
- State Farm: 213% increase
- Geico: 71% increase
- Progressive: 106% increase
- Allstate: 197% increase
- USAA: 71% increase
- Farmers: 71% increase
- AAA: 117% increase
Overall, a reckless driving conviction typically raises car insurance rates by 91% on average nationally. However, rate hikes range from just 40% to over 200% depending on your insurer, location, and driving history.
Rate Increases By State
How much reckless driving raises your insurance also varies significantly by state. State laws and regulation on factors like criminal penalties, license suspension, and traffic violation surcharges impact costs.
The highest average rate increases after a reckless driving ticket are in:
- Hawaii: 242% increase
- New Hampshire: 200% increase
- California: 147% increase
- Vermont: 133% increase
- DC: 126% increase
The lowest average increases are found in:
- Texas: 41% increase
- Florida: 44% increase
- Virginia: 45% increase
- Louisiana: 48% increase
- Montana: 48% increase
It pays to compare quotes if a reckless ticket occurred out-of-state since some insurers may not apply the same rating rules. However, most will still consider it a serious infraction.
How Insurers Determine Rate Increases
Car insurers closely guard the proprietary algorithms and models they use to determine premiums based on risk factors. However, we know the following aspects related to a reckless driving conviction influence the rate increases insurers apply:
Number of convictions – Repeat offenses magnify rate hikes.
Severities of violations – Extreme reckless behaviors mean bigger jumps.
License suspension – Suspensions raise the risk bar.
Additional violations – Speeding tickets or DUIs along with reckless charges compound increases.
Length of time – Rate impact declines after 3-5 years depending on state.
Age – Younger drivers tend to see bigger increases.
Credit scores – Good credit means lower reckless driving rate hikes.
The exact premium increase an individual driver faces depends on this diverse mix of elements. Insurance scoring models rate how risky they find you after a reckless ticket.
Minimizing Insurance Rate Increases
The best way to keep car insurance affordable following a reckless driving violation is to:
Improve driving habits – Steady safe driving can help offset some rate impact after a few years if you avoid additional tickets.
Raise deductibles – Higher deductibles of $500, $1,000 or $2,500 lower premiums.
Adjust coverage – Analyze needs to potentially remove collision/comprehensive coverage on older cars.
Find discounts – Take defensive driving courses, bundle policies, pay annually, maintain good credit, etc. to save.
Compare quotes – Shop multiple insurers to find the best rate each renewal.
Maintain insurance – Lapses in coverage will only worsen rates.
Some insurers may not increase premiums as much based on individual risk analysis. Checking prices from at least 5-6 companies ensures you find potential savings.
Alternatives for High-Risk Insurance
Drivers with serious violations like reckless driving on record often need to pursue specialty high-risk insurers to find affordable coverage. Companies like Direct Auto, Titan, and The General write policies for these scenarios.
However, high-risk car insurance options charge higher rates, offer minimal discounts, and tend to have weaker claims servicing and financial strength compared to mainstream insurers. Weigh the trade-offs carefully if going this route after a reckless ticket.
How Long a Reckless Driving Conviction Impacts Insurance
In most states, insurers can only surcharge and factor tickets into your premium calculation for 3-5 years. Rate hikes gradually decrease over this window as the infraction becomes less predictive of current risk levels in insurer models.
However, some states allow insurers to consider violations for longer. California permits rating reckless tickets for up to 10 years. New Hampshire has no limit on how far back insurers can look.
Check your state insurance regulations to understand how long a reckless driving conviction will impact your rates. The impact diminishes annually but may still hurt your premiums for years in some areas.
Additional Consequences of Reckless Driving
Beyond steep car insurance hikes, a reckless driving conviction can bring:
Jail time – Up to 6 months in some states.
Fines – As much as $1,000 plus court fees.
License suspension – Typically 6 months minimum if convicted.
Traffic school – May be required to reinstate license.
Higher insurance liability minimums – California requires an SR-22 form.
Employment difficulty – Background checks show the criminal offense.
Travel limitations – Canada may not admit drivers with convictions.
Car impoundment – 30 days or more in some areas.
The costs and consequences associated with reckless driving go well beyond much higher auto insurance premiums in most cases. It’s critical to consult with a traffic attorney if fighting a charge.
How to Recover From a Reckless Driving Conviction
Here are some steps to get your insurance rates back on track and move on from a reckless driving violation:
Complete all court and DMV requirements promptly to reinstate your license and avoid additional penalties.
Take a defensive driving course approved by your state for a potential discount.
Research high-risk insurance options if mainstream insurer premiums are unaffordable.
Have any alcohol education/rehab mandated by the courts/DMV documented on your record.
Begin building up years of safe, violation-free driving history to offset the reckless ticket over time.
Pay all bills and debts on time and avoid credit red flags to keep your insurance credit score high.
Shop quotes from insurers every 6-12 months to find the best rates as you gain clean driving history again.
Inform your agent once the reckless driving violation falls off your motor vehicle record after the state time limit.
Patience and focus on responsible driving allows you to eventually overcome insurance rate spikes. But a reckless driving conviction has lasting consequences for both your driving record and premium costs.
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