How bad driving affects insurance rates

The worst potential consequences of bad driving are well known: collisions, and physical harm to drivers, passengers and others. Secondary are hits to your driving record – a.k.a. demerits – and potential loss of your licence. But there’s also a financial toll. That’s because traffic violations and at-fault claims push up your insurance premiums. Three types of traffic violations impact your driving record, and therefore your rates.

Traffic safety conviction. Things like speeding, stunting or failure to stop at a stop sign. Insurance companies may forgive one conviction, but the second can result in a 25% increase (rate increases vary by company).

Serious traffic safety conviction. Infractions such as speeding in a school zone or failing to stop for a peace officer. These can result in increases of 25% after one conviction; up to 100% for subsequent convictions.

Criminal code conviction. Examples include driving impaired by drugs or alcohol, and driving without a licence. Premiums can increase from 60% to 300% for just one conviction.
If you’re at fault in a collision, your insurance premium will generally go up, too – regardless of whether you’re convicted of anything under the Traffic Safety Act. An at-fault claim also affects your driving record, which is used to determine your rate.

Remember: collectively, policyholders pay for the impact of bad driving, because insurance rates increase overall when the number of claims increases. So it’s in everyone’s interest – financial and otherwise – to drive safely.


Westworld is the award-winning magazine of the Alberta Motor Association. It offers a mix of travel features, auto trends and special member savings.