April 15, 2010

Ways Auto Insurance Companies Find Out About A Driving Record

When applying for auto insurance, there are always the looming questions of how and when auto insurance companies find out about a driver’s record. This is also why it is important not to budget future auto insurance expenses based upon a generic auto insurance quote generated online because such quotes may not take into account the rating system a particular company uses to calculate auto insurance premiums.

To further complicate matters, not all auto insurance companies check with the same frequency or using the same criteria. Some companies will check only the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) before issuing an auto insurance quote. Other companies may also evaluate the credit score of the insurance applicant. Some companies check only when issuing a new quote or making a change to an existing policy. Other companies will do random spot checks to identify recent changes to a policy holder’s driving record. However, all insurance companies will use the DMV records in the applicant’s state of residence as a baseline for issuing a quote and setting auto insurance premiums. Companies will set the estimated risk level of an applicant from determining the number of points on a driver’s record at the time an application for insurance coverage is filed. Here is where a low score really works to the applicant’s advantage – no or low points indicates low risk, and these drivers are rewarded with lower premiums.

This is why understanding how a driving record is set is equally critical to managing auto insurance premium expenses. A driving record is not unlike a set of test results except in reverse – the lower the score, the better the driver. High scores on driving records indicate high risk to insurance companies with correspondingly high auto insurance quotes soon to follow. Speeding tickets, illegal lane changes, parking violations, collisions, running red lights or stop signs, unsafe driving practices and more will be subject to increased driver record scores.

While it can seem puzzling that agents have access to a driver’s record with the DMV, the act of applying for an auto insurance quote is what gives the auto insurance company the right to gain access to the applicant’s DMV records. Auto insurance companies can also conduct an online search and approach federal agencies for these records, but the DMV is the source most often and easily accessed. The best way to apply for auto insurance quotes is to be knowledgeable about personal driving record data before beginning to gather quotes. Additionally, for high risk drivers there are also memberships available for a nominal fee that can notify a driver of changes to driving record that may increase or decrease premiums.