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Texting behind the wheel isn’t only dangerous, it is also illegal in 47 states. Yet nearly half of drivers (46%) surveyed by Insure.com admit to texting and driving. Of those, 43% have texted while driving with children in the car, 20% have gotten a texting ticket and five percent have had an accident as a result. If you’ve been convicted of texting and driving, you may end up paying more for car insurance.

Key Takeaways

  • In many states, talking on the phone while driving is not illegal and you will not get a ticket or have any impact on your insurance.
  • Texting while driving usually gets you a ticket and may eventually increase your car insurance rates.
  • It may vary by state, but car insurance rates go up by 23% after a texting ticket.
  • How long a texting ticket stays on your record varies by state, but it is usually three to five years.

How much it costs to text while driving

While there are many variables that influence exactly how much your particular rate goes up after a texting ticket, Insure.com found that the average driver will see the following increases after a texting-and-driving violation.

CompanyAverage rateRater after texting% increase$ increase
Geico$1,109$1,23712%$128
State Farm$1,400$1,59413%$194
Nationwide$1,598$1,86617%$268
Allstate$1,868$2,20418%$336
Farmers$1,663$1,95618%$292
Progressive$1,483$1,91331%$430

How insurance companies treat texting tickets

When it comes to distracted driving, texting is often treated differently than talking on the phone. In many states, talking behind the wheel is not illegal, so it doesn’t result in a ticket or have any impact on your insurance.

Texting behind the wheel will usually result in a ticket, and may eventually impact your insurance premium, especially if it puts points on your license.

You may have to pay heft penalties for texting while driving. Colorado will ding you $300 and put four points on your license. Oregon’s fines run up to $1,000 for a first offense and go to $2,500 if you are caught again. New York will send you a bill for $200 and adds five points to your license.

On the other end of that spectrum, states like Florida only charge fines of a measly $30 with no impact on your license, while Wisconsin charges even less with a fee of $20. On average though, expect to spend between $50 and $250 on a texting ticket.

Insurers also differ in how they look at tickets for texting while driving. Some insurers tend to overlook a texting ticket while others will increase your rates.

“We are still in the early days of people getting tickets for texting. As a result, some companies may simply track the tickets, so they can look at the loss data and then based on the data decide how to handle them. On the other hand, when texting tickets show up on an MVR many insurers treat them as a minor moving violation,” says Brewer.

How much texting while driving increases the cost of insurance by state

While it will vary by a variety of factors, on average, insurance rates go up roughly 23% after a texting ticket. Increases ranged from 12% on the low end, up to a 45% increase, based on a survey done by Insure.com of six insurance carriers in 10 ZIP codes in every state.

California leads the nation with a 45% increase after a texting ticket, while Ohio placed a distant second with a 34% jump. The increase in premiums varies dramatically across states but if you do end up with a texting ticket on your record don’t start panicking immediately, it may not impact your rates at all.

“Because states charge a fee for every motor vehicle record (MVR) pulled, many insurance carriers don’t pull MVRs every year. The fees can range from $1.60 to over $13.00 per driver, which quickly adds up for insurance companies with thousands of policyholders,” says John Espenschied with Insurance Brokers Group.

If your insurer doesn’t pull an MVR on a regular basis it will never know about your texting ticket, and your rates will stay the same. In a few states, it’s actually illegal for car insurance companies to bump up your rate for a texting ticket. In Idaho and North Carolina, state law prohibits insurers from raising rates based on texting violations.

In states where points are assigned to your license, you may find your license suspended if a texting citation puts you over the top. In New York, for example, a texting ticket puts five points on your license and if you hit 11 points in an 18-month period you can say bye-bye to your license for a bit which will absolutely raise your insurance premium.

Here’s how much more you can expect to pay in each state for texting while driving, ranked from highest rate increase to lowest:

State % increase
California45%
Ohio34%
Indiana34%
New Hampshire34%
Rhode Island34%
Minnesota29%
Maine29%
Alaska29%
Texas28%
Florida27%
Michigan26%
New Mexico26%
Iowa26%
Illinois26%
South Dakota26%
Arkansas26%
Virginia26%
Utah25%
Alabama25%
Oregon25%
Arizona24%
Oklahoma24%
Georgia24%
Connecticut23%
New Jersey23%
Wisconsin22%
DC20%
Nevada20%
Delaware20%
Hawaii19%
Washington19%
Mississippi19%
Kansas19%
Maryland19%
North Dakota17%
West Virginia17%
South Carolina17%
Montana17%
Tennessee17%
Kentucky16%
Vermont15%
Nebraska15%
Pennsylvania15%
Missouri14%
Colorado13%
Wyoming13%
Louisiana12%
New York12%

 

How long will a texting ticket stay on my record?

How long a ticket for texting while driving stays on your driving record varies by state but usually ranges from three to five years.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to drive your premium down even with a texting ticket on your record. Here are just a few tips:

Shop around: This is the best way to lower your insurance costs. Insurers rate risk differently, so premium quotes can vary dramatically between insurance companies. Always make sure you are comparing apples to apples when it comes to coverage levels and the deductible.

It’s never advisable to lower coverage levels to reduce your premium. While slashing your coverage levels will almost always lower your premium, you may find yourself regretting this decision if you are in a serious accident.

Take a defensive driving class: Taking a defensive driving course can work on multiple fronts. In some states, taking one of these courses may knock a ticket off your record, which means your insurance company may never see it.

If your state doesn’t offer forgiveness, your insurer might. Some insurance companies offer a discount on your premium for completing a defensive driving course. Check with your insurance company for courses that meet their requirements.

Ask for a deferral: This one can be risky, but if you keep your record clean for a year your rates may not go up. Many states allow you to defer a ticket for a year which means that it will not go on your driving record. If you stay ticket free for 12 months the ticket never hits your driving record and your insurer is never the wiser.

However, if you do get a ticket during that year, both of them hit your driving record and your rates will absolutely be headed up. Contact your local clerk of court to see if deferral is an option in your area.

Why insurance companies charge more for texting while driving

Texting while driving is extremely dangerous, which is why it’s illegal in almost every state in the country. Anything that is deemed risky behavior usually causes insurance companies to charge more.

Here are a few statistics put together by the National Safety Council and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • Cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.
  • 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving.
  • 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.
  • Texting while driving is 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.
  • Answering a text takes away your attention for about five seconds. Traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to travel the length of a football field.

Currently, it is illegal to drive while texting in 47 states and Washington D.C. In most of these states, you can be pulled over for just texting and driving. In a few states, you must be pulled over for another violation before a texting ticket can be issued.

Methodology:

Rate data — Insure.com commissioned Quadrant Information Services to field rates from up to six major insurers in 10 ZIP codes in every state for a driver of a 2017 Honda Accord, age 40, with good credit and full coverage and $500 deductible; increases shown are an average from the base rate.

Survey — Insure.com in May 2018 commissioned Op4g to field a survey of 1,000 drivers with children to find out about their driving behavior.

author image
Mark Vallet
Contributing Researcher

 
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Mark is a freelance journalist and analyst with over 15 years of experience covering the insurance industry.

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