Auto Insurance

This is how traffic tickets affect your insurance rate in Ontario

By: John Shmuel on May 9, 2023
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This article has been updated from a previous version.

You’re driving down the road when, suddenly, flashing blue and red lights appear in your rearview mirror. 

First, take a deep breath. This might be your first ticket, or it might be your second or third. 

Either way, this ticket will affect your insurance rate — but just how much will depend on the infraction and your driving history. 

Below, we break down all the ways traffic violations will impact your annual premium. 

Minor, major, and serious: ticket type matters

Not all tickets are created equal. Insurance providers are generally concerned about the severity of your violation. Tickets are broadly categorized into three types: minor, major, and serious. As you’ll see below, different types of tickets will have different levels of impact on your insurance rate. 

But before we get to that, let’s break down the various offences under each category. 

Minor offence 

  • Defective brakes 

  • Drivers licence violations 

  • Failure to carry or have insurance card 

  • Failure to produce evidence of insurance 

  • Failing to signal 

  • Failure to use seatbelts 

  • Failing to yield 

  • Failing to yield to pedestrian 

  • Following too closely 

  • Headlight offences 

  • Improper lane change 

  • Improper passing 

  • Improper turn 

  • Improper use of divided highway 

  • Obstructing traffic 

  • Prohibited use of hand-held device 

  • Speeding 

  • Failing to obey stop sign 

  • Traffic light violation 

  • Unsafe move 

  • Wrong way on one way 

  • Other minor conviction (not specified) 

Major offence 

  • Driving without insurance 

  • Failure to report damage to highway property 

  • Failure to report accident 

  • Improper passing of a school bus 

  • Improper passing/speeding in a school or playground zone 

  • Operator motor vehicle - no insurance 

Serious offence 

  • Careless driving 

  • Class G1/G2 driver with alcohol in blood 

  • Class G1/G2 driver refusing to give breath sample 

  • Driving while licence under suspension 

  • Failure to stop/remain at the scene of an accident 

  • Impaired driving 

  • Manslaughter committed in the operation or use of a motor vehicle 

  • Racing 

  • Stunting 

Demerit points

Demerit points are a system in Ontario whereby you collect points if you violate driving laws anywhere in Canada, as well as in the States of New York and Michigan. 

How many demerit points you get depends on the violation. Serious violations, such as failing to remain at the scene of a collision, will get you seven points, while an improper right turn will get you two demerit points. 

Demerit points by themselves don’t raise your insurance rate. But once you reach nine to 14 points, you’re at risk of having your licence suspended — which will affect your insurance rate.   

Let’s quickly look at how suspensions affect your rate. According to our auto insurance quoter, if you’re a 35-year-old male who drives a 2022 Honda Civic LX in downtown Toronto and has a clean driving record, an insurance company is willing to give you a rate as low as 2,844 a year. 

But add a single suspension to that and the quote jumps to $3,391. 

How much will tickets cost me? 

This is what you’re really here for. We broke out the car insurance quoter and quickly ran some numbers based on violations. 

Our test subject is a 35-year-old male driver in Toronto, Ontario who drives a 2022 Honda Civic LX. He has a clean driving record (before we started adding in the tickets) and has been insured for 18 years. 

Before any tickets, he’ll pay $2,844 a year, based on the lowest quote found using our site. 

Now let’s look at how traffic violations begin to change that. 

Minor tickets (like speeding under 45 km) 

No tickets: $2,844 
One ticket: $3,311 
Two tickets: $3,602 
Three tickets: $6,287 
Four tickets: $10,648 

Major tickets (like driving without insurance) 

No tickets: $2,844 
One ticket: $6,585 
Two tickets: $10,996 

Serious tickets (like careless driving) 

No tickets: $2,844 
One ticket: $11,380 
Two tickets: $22,993 

The verdict

As you can see, tickets can have a major impact on your auto insurance rate.  

As a final example, we looked at a quote for the same person with four varied violations: Two minor tickets, one major ticket, and one serious. We came out with a quote of $13,954 annually — that’s a whopping $11,110 or so more than what our test subject would pay if he had a clean driving history. 

The numbers show that if you’ve gotten a ticket, you should take actions to get it off your record or have the offence reduced. Remember, you have options. You can challenge the ticket in court or even hire a paralegal to fight the ticket on your behalf.  

Be sure to use the figures above to determine whether the cost of a paralegal will be worth the money you’ll save on your annual premium. 

And tickets remain on your record for three years, so if you can’t avoid a ticket, it’s best to keep your record clear going forward to pay a lower rate in the future.

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