August 17, 2010

How Radar Detectors Can Affect Your Auto Insurance

Excessive speed is a primary cause of auto accidents, as any police officer will tell you. Because auto insurance companies are on the hook for the damages that you may cause when speeding, they tend to react poorly to a speeding ticket, and your next auto insurance quote could be as much as 40 percent higher than the base rate. Moreover, police want to see people slow down when driving, and municipalities want the revenue that comes from speeding tickets. Thus, radar has been used to bust speeders for decades. When it comes to auto insurance, radar and premium increases can go hand in hand.

For much of the time that police have been using radar, in-car radar detectors have been on the market. Having a radar detector can have an effect on your auto insurance quote, depending on several conditions. Specifically, these conditions include whether you are in a state where radar detectors are illegal, whether you are a commercial driver, and how effective your particular radar detector is in dealing with the latest advances in speed measurement, such as “instant-on” and laser devices.

For right now, only Virginia, the District of Columbia, and military bases ban the possession or use of radar detectors (radar jammers and laser jammers are different, but that’s another topic). Commercial drivers are forbidden to own or use them at all, everywhere in the U.S. If you’re a commercial driver and you use one and are caught (and the police regularly monitor the use of radar detector), you will lose your commercial license, and your insurance premiums will be drastically increased, even for your personal vehicles.

Obviously, for individual car drivers, if a radar detector works properly and assists a driver to avoid a speeding ticket, the device will have a considerable effect on your auto insurance rates, positively for you. Radar detectors that don’t work properly can give you a false sense of security, meaning you’ll possibly drive a little less conscientiously, speed, and get a ticket that you weren’t expecting. Additionally, a visible radar detector can be “bait” to police officers, as they tend to get antagonized by their use. This may not result in a speeding ticket, but a police officer may look for any other violation for which he or she can issue a ticket. As for your auto insurance, radar in this circumstance can result in higher rates.

Radar detectors are a mixed blessing for the user, and a source of irritation to law enforcement and insurance companies. This conflict looks as if it will only continue for the foreseeable future.