Older U.S. Drivers Can Dodge Insurance Penalty on Tickets

Older drivers in the U.S. are more likely to avoid higher premiums after getting a traffic ticket because they’re seen as less likely to have accidents, according to a Web-based insurance marketplace.

Fifteen percent of drivers age 50 and older reported increased premiums after a citation, compared with 41 percent of drivers between 18 and 29, InsuranceQuotes.com, a site owned and operated by North Palm Beach, Florida-based Bankrate Inc., said in a survey set for release today.

Older drivers receive less scrutiny from insurance companies because they don’t get as many tickets, Laura Adams, a senior insurance analyst at InsuranceQuotes.com, said in a phone interview. Insurance companies check the records of younger, less-experienced drivers frequently and are more likely to see citations and raise premiums, Adams said.

“The motor-vehicle-record check is very expensive,” Adams said. “Insurance companies try not to pull it more than they absolutely need to.”

Allstate Corp., the largest publicly traded U.S. home and auto insurer, said it doesn’t differentiate between old and young drivers.

“Any MVR ‘check-up’ is based more on claim activity than age,” Justin Herndon, a spokesman for the Northbrook, Illinois-based insurer, said in an e-mail.

The survey of 1,000 adults living in the continental U.S. shows that fewer than a third who received traffic tickets in the past five years are paying more for car insurance as a result. An older driver’s ticket will probably go unnoticed unless there are “several of them in a short period of time,” Adams said.

Steven Weisbart, vice president and chief economist at the Insurance Information Institute, said it would be difficult to isolate a reason for a boost in the price of coverage.

“To single out traffic tickets and say that increases are attributable to that, is really misunderstanding how the system works,” he said.

Princeton Survey Research Associates International conducted the telephone survey between Jan. 31 and Feb. 3.