Parking tickets can make a serious dent in your finances. Most parking tickets in New York City cost more than $100. San Francisco also has some steep fines. The city fines drivers $866 for incorrectly parking in a blue zone and $288 for parking in a bus zone. In Chicago, you’ll pay $200 for incorrectly parking in a zone for motorists with disabilities and $150 for parking in a bus zone. Those tickets can really add up, but are the fines the only thing you have to worry about? We investigate how parking tickets can impact your insurance.
Will a Parking Ticket Increase Your Car Insurance Premium?
As long as you pay the fine on time, your parking ticket won’t increase your premium, as it’s a non-moving violation. Non-moving violations aren’t attached to your driver’s license or reported to the DMV or your insurance carrier. That means your insurer will never know about your parking mishap if you pay up on time. Even if you tell your insurer, it won’t raise your premium, as parking infringements don’t increase your chance of having an accident or filing a claim.
How Will Unpaid Parking Tickets Impact My Insurance?
If you don’t pay your parking ticket, it could impact your insurance in the following ways:
It Could Impact Your Credit Score
If you don’t pay your parking ticket, the municipality may escalate the matter and send it to a collections agency. Any debt sent to collections impacts your credit-based insurance score. The more parking tickets you leave unpaid, the greater the impact on your score. Some insurance carriers use this score to calculate the cost of your car insurance premium. If your insurer is one of them, your unpaid parking ticket could end up costing you in the long run.
However, not all insurers consider credit-based insurance scores in their calculations. In some states, including California, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Hawaii, insurance providers can’t legally calculate premiums based on credit scores. In these states, your parking ticket would have no bearing on your insurance premium, whether it’s paid or not.
It Could Void Your Registration
Some states cancel the car registration of people with unpaid fines. As you cannot legally drive a car that’s unregistered, you could also face more potential problems if you get behind the wheel of your vehicle. Driving an unregistered car is a moving violation, and that can impact your insurance premium. In addition to issuing a fine, the state may also impound your car and arrest you. That could make your decision to drive a pretty costly one!
Your Driver’s License Could Get Suspended
If you don’t pay your parking ticket, some states may suspend your driver’s license. This can have serious repercussions for your insurance if you need to file an SR-22 document to restore your license. If you need an SR-22 in your state, you’ll need to pay the much higher SR-22 insurance rates for around three years. SR-22 insurance is for high-risk drivers. Insurance carriers charge more for SR-22 insurance, as people who hold these policies are at a much higher risk of making claims.
How to Avoid Letting Parking Tickets Raise Your Insurance Premiums
In a perfect world, we’d all pay our parking tickets promptly and move on with our lives. However, sometimes life gets in the way. If you think you may not be able to pay on time, try these tactics to minimize the impact on your insurance:
- Appeal the ticket as soon as possible. Attach a copy of the ticket, evidence to support your claim, and your contact details if you feel the municipality has made an error or there are circumstances that make your parking ticket unfair.
- Ask about a payment plan. Some municipalities will let you pay off your fine in installments rather than incurring late fees and potential insurance increases.
- Get a loan. You may be able to take out a personal loan from a bank or borrow money to pay the fine from a family member or good friend.
- Ask for an advance on your salary. If you’re a reliable employee, your boss may be happy to pay you early so you can cover the fine.
What If Someone Else Used Your Car?
Parking tickets are tied to the car and its owner, rather than the person who parked the vehicle. If someone else used your car and parked illegally, it’s important that you still pay the fine to ensure it doesn’t impact your insurance. You may speak to the person that parked your car illegally and encourage them to reimburse you for the fine. Ultimately though, it’s your responsibility to deal with the matter. Failing to do so can have serious consequences for your insurance and license.
What About Private Parking Tickets?
The police issue most parking tickets. However, sometimes private entities such as shopping malls and college campuses issue their own parking tickets. While it’s best to pay them to keep using the facilities, these tickets aren’t always legally enforceable. As such, they can never impact your insurance.
Do Other Tickets Affect Insurance?
Tickets for moving violations can impact your insurance premiums. Some common moving violations are:
- Running a red light
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics
Insurers may increase your premium after you receive a ticket for a moving violation, as you’ve shown risky driving behavior that makes having an accident more likely. The severity of the moving violation may impact the size of your premium. For example, you might expect a DUI to increase your premiums more than a minor speeding fine for going a few miles over the limit. It’s worth shopping around for a good deal, as some insurers penalize drivers with moving violations more than others.
In most cases, a parking ticket is a minor inconvenience you can quickly move on from without it impacting your car insurance.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.