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HOW DOES CARELESS DRIVING AFFECT MY INSURANCE?

By Jonathan van Ekelenburg

Insurance rates are one of the biggest concerns for people charged under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) because the effects of a conviction on your driving record can last for years beyond the point of receiving the ticket.

A careless driving charge is one of the most serious charges under the HTA, and can have drastic consequences for your insurance rates. All insurance policies handle convictions in different ways, and you should always find out how your insurance in particular will be affected by any kind of charge, but all insurance providers treat a conviction of careless driving very seriously.

Lino D’Intino, an insurance broker with Young’s Insurance Brokers in the Niagara region, says that anyone convicted of careless driving will have to carry high-risk insurance for 3 years. “The rates are staggeringly high! Careless driving is a charge with huge ramifications.”

He says there could also be a “ripple effect” from a careless driving conviction. He gives the following example to illustrate how the conviction might carry long-lasting consequences you may not have considered:

A husband and wife have clean records, are insured with the same company and are receiving a 15% multi-vehicle discount. The husband gets charged with careless driving and has to go to a high-risk company for insurance. The wife retains her good driving record but now loses the 15% multi-vehicle discount because her husband is no longer on her policy.

D’Intino also cautions people to remember that an accident’s effects on your insurance rates may not be the same as a careless driving conviction’s effects. How exactly accidents affect is different for every driver, depending on other history and whether they carry additional accident forgiveness coverage. Insurance companies still rate accidents based on the evidence they have, though. This means they will still use the officer’s accident report, what is reported on your record or what is told to them in the past to determine whether you were at-fault.

“In other words, even if a particular conviction gets dropped, the insurance company can still make the determination that the accident was at-fault and affect your premiums accordingly.”

So remember that both a conviction of careless driving and an at-fault accident can raise your insurance rates. If you receive both, your rates will be raised doubly, so pleading guilty to the careless driving charge could mean double the penalty you might receive from your insurance provider.

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