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Should Texting While Driving Increase Insurance Premiums?

The McClellan Law Firm recently did a survey of 1,000 drivers. It asked: How would you screen drivers for car insurance? The results? Most people said they would penalize drivers who broke traffic laws by increasing their premiums—including those ticketed for texting while driving.

In fact, maybe even more shocking, nearly 73% of drivers said that they would penalize those pulled over for texting while driving more than they would those who were pulled over for speeding! On top of that, 75% of those surveyed said that they believed the use of a handheld device while driving should result in increased insurance rates.

Updated January 2016

Laws Against Texting While Driving

While a majority of states have texting while driving laws, only a limited number of states consider texting while driving to be a moving violation. Insurance rates generally only increase with moving violations. As of January 2016, only four states have not made texting while driving illegal. Arizona and Montana have no laws against texting and driving, while Texas bans bus drivers, intermediate drivers, and drivers in school zones. Missouri also only enforces the ban against teen drivers under the age of 21.

Even though many states have bans against texting while driving, this step hasn’t necessarily put a dent in the problem. In California, the fine for texting while driving alone is pretty small—around $76 with penalty assessments added. A second offense does increase to as much as $190, but still isn’t considered a moving violation. Even multiple violations of this kind won’t result in jail time or a loss of driving privileges, which means there is very little incentive for drivers to engage in safer habits other than their own safety.

Will Insurance Rates Increase After a Texting While Driving Ticket?

In some states, yes, but it’s not likely for California drivers. Since texting while driving doesn’t add any points to a driver’s record and isn’t considered a moving violation, it typically won’t impact insurance premiums unless combined with another incident, such as a collision.

Several states even prohibit insurers from raising rates due to texting violations, including:

  • Massachusetts
  • Idaho
  • North Carolina
  • Washington

In other states, such as Vermont, texting while driving is considered a moving violation, which means the driver’s insurance company will treat it just like any other minor ticket. How seriously this affects premiums will depend on the insurance company—while some may not raise rates at all for a single ticket, others may eliminate your “good driver discount” or raise rates a little bit for each violation.

A survey conducted across the country involve six different insurance carriers shed more light on this situation. According to the survey, the average increase in insurance rates after a single moving violation (speeding, texting while driving, etc.) was 14%. While that doesn’t speak for your insurance carrier necessarily, it does show how much impact a single ticket can have on your monthly payments. Drivers outside of California may also have to worry about more than just speeding tickets—with texting while driving being deemed a moving violation in many states, this offense could continue to lead to increased insurance rates.

Don’t Let Distracted Driving Become a Habit

AT&T conducted a survey that found that 49% of all drivers text when behind the wheel. More concerning, 43% of drivers considered it a habit. As one of the leading causes of fatal teenage driving accidents, texting is a serious distraction that should never be engaged in when on the road. Distracted driving can come in many shapes and forms, but texting while driving may be one of the most dangerous. Make sure you practice safe driving habits and avoid picking up your phone while driving—for the sake of your insurance rates and your safety!

Injured in a car accident in San Diego? Reach out to The McClellan Law Firm for guidance.