How Driving Record & History Affects Car Insurance Rates

The no. 1 reason you should be concerned about being a great driver is for the safety of yourself and others – be it passengers in your vehicle, pedestrians or people in other vehicles.

If you’re motivated to be a great driver by saving money on your car insurance, there are some things to know about how your driving record and history affect your insurance rates. Every insurance provider will have different protocols and procedures relating to how they evaluate drivers.

This article will cover a few different scenarios – tickets, accidents, demerits, and star rating – and talk about the effect each has on your car insurance rate.

Traffic Tickets

Traffic tickets play a vital role in showing insurance companies your caliber of driving. Using the ‘’the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’’ idiom, odds are if you’ve had issues with tickets, those weren’t your only times breaking the law while driving.

Your most recent three years of ticket history is what insurance companies will use to evaluate your driving. There are a few reasons for this:

  • They want to know the kind of driver you are now, not 10 or 20 years ago
  • If there’s a pattern of driving, for better or worse, they need to know it (hence they don’t ask for just your most recent 3-6 months of driving history)
  • If there’s only one ticket in that time (three years), most companies will be lenient and still give you convictions-free discounts

Also Read: 5 Things That Will Improve Your Winter Driving

It is important to note that photo radar and parking tickets do not count as traffic tickets, according to the insurance industry in their evaluation of your driving.

If you have traffic tickets for criminal offenses, such as a DUI or failing to stop at the scene of an accident (hit and run), then your most recent four years will be evaluated, instead of just your most recent three years.

At-fault Accidents

Similar to traffic tickets, at-fault accidents also show the caliber of driver you are. Not similar to traffic tickets, your most recent six years of driving gets evaluated.

The severity of an accident, including costs to replace or repair a vehicle (or two…), is a big pill for an insurance company to swallow. Think of it from an insurance company’s perspective: one of their insureds, who has full coverage on their $20,000 vehicle for $150/month, causes an accident with another $20,000 vehicle and both vehicles are write-offs. Say the at-fault party has been a great client to date, with no infractions for five years. Prior to the accident, the customer might think, ’Why do I have to pay $150/month when I’m a perfect driver?’ or something along those lines.

The customer pays $150/month for situations just like this. Over those five years of perfect driving, the customer will have paid $9,000 total for insurance coverage. Now, the insurance company is on the hook for $40,000 of damages though, caused by the said customer. When you evaluate their five years with the company - as a whole - that one accident just cost the insurer $31,000.

Not all at-fault accidents will carry the same amount of financial implications for an insurance company. That said, an at-fault accident is an at-fault accident and you will need to go at least six years at-fault accident-free to begin to see accident-free discounts on your car insurance.


Demerits are a result of poor driving. The larger the traffic ticket you receive, or an accumulation of tickets, the more demerits you’ll have.

Each province will have different valuations for demerits and what the penalties are. In Alberta, 15 or more demerit points within a two-year window will result in your license being suspended for one month. Depending on the infraction(s), a license suspension can last significantly longer than that, too.

Taking a defensive driving course can lower the number of demerits you have, but don’t expect to see similar leniency from insurers. Those tickets you received are still on your driving record, after all.

If you receive a suspension due to an accumulation of demerits, that will affect your star rating. If you don’t receive a suspension from demerits, then demerits won’t affect your star rating (the tickets that resulted in the demerits will still affect your rate, however).

Speaking of which…

Star Rating

Each insurance provider will use different metrics to determine star rating. Your star rating will determine the class of driver you are, which determines the amount of money you pay for your car insurance policy.

Star rating is determined by:

  • Number of traffic tickets you’ve had in the past three years
  • Number of at-fault accidents you’ve had in the past six years
  • The number and length of suspensions you’ve had from demerits in the last 10 years
  • If your insurance has been canceled for non-payment in the last 3-5 years

Again, each company may have other areas they evaluate, but the above four points are factored by all auto insurance providers.

Getting a Car Insurance Policy from Surex Direct

Surex Direct is an online, Canada-wide broker for over 10 insurance companies. All companies rate differently, based on their prior history of providing car insurance. One company might be more lenient with tickets, while another could have harder criteria to get their maximum star rating.

Depending on driving record and history – for better or for worse – certain companies will have more appeal to you than their competition. Getting car insurance through Surex Direct means you’re using Canada’s fastest growing online brokerage to find the best policy for you. Having partnered with over 10 car insurance providers means you don’t have to spend hours or days shopping around for your auto insurance.

Take 5-10 minutes and get an online car insurance quote. Our 100% transparent pricing model means you’ll see all the companies willing to provide you insurance, and at what price. The personal broker assigned to you will contact you to verify your price and make sure you’re getting all the discounts available to you. Then you can sign your documents online through e-signature, print your pink cards at home and be on your way.

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