There may come a time when you're interested in finding out what's on your driver's record either for curiosity or because you need it for some reason. Getting a copy of your driving record, which includes accident reports and records of tickets, can assist you in ensuring you're getting the best kind of auto insurance quotes possible.
Most insurance companies are going to ask you about your history of accidents or traffic violations dating back several years. Your record can help you figure out what's going on if you know for a fact that you have or have not had any of these incidents on your record during that time. Odds are you are going to be aware if you've been in an accident, but there's also the possibility you don't remember exactly when it was. Was it 4 years ago or five years ago? That can make a difference in terms of insurance. Likewise, if you've got some parking tickets and didn't even realize it, which does happen from time to time, those could be on your record affecting your insurance rates without you having any idea.
How to Get a Copy of Your Driving Record
You can get a copy of your driving record by heading down to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Odds are the DMV is going to ask you for proof of a valid license and will also charge you a fee to give you a copy. Usually this is around $10 but it may cost more or less depending on your state.
Once you’ve made a formal request, you're going to have to wait for them to send it for you. Unfortunately, this is not usually a very fast process. If you get it done online, you can probably access it right away, but the online version will be an unofficial copy of your record. That means you can't just print this out and use it for any serious legal purposes. However, if you go to the DMV and have to fill out a mail-in form this might end up taking you a few weeks.
There are some websites that you can go to that offer you a quick and easy solution to give you a copy of your driving record. These are third party companies that are not actually affiliated with the DMV or your state government. These may work out for you if you give them a try, but you can’t always vouch for how reliable the service is going to be and they will likely charge you quite a bit more money than the DMV would. If you need something in a pinch of this is your only option that could be worth a try, but we would generally not recommend using a third-party service like this.
If you are going to go ahead and use a third-party company that you find online, you need to verify ahead of time whether or not the report they can get for you is an official report or an unofficial report. If they're just going to give you an unofficial report, you may as well save your money because that's essentially useless to you. You could get an unofficial report easily enough from the DMV's website and you wouldn't have to pay nearly as much money for it.
Auto insurance agents will also be able to have access to your driving record. They can review the information and provide an unofficial driving report for you. They might also be able to give you a copy of the official driving record, but you need to ask if this is something they can do. Some are able to do this, and some will not.
What is an MVR?
An MVR is a report of the moving violations that you've had with your vehicle. That includes things like speeding tickets, parking tickets, accidents or any other driving violations. It should cover about three years of your driving history but may include as far back as 10 years. It will also include your driver's license status such as whether it's been revoked or suspended, the class of license you have, any restrictions, traffic citations, accident reports, vehicular crimes and also how many points are on your license if you are in a state that records demerit points.
Depending on where you live, this report may also include more basic information about you as a person like your age, address, eye and hair colour, even your height and weight. This information is accessible to various businesses, government agencies, law enforcement and others in all 50 states that require it for whatever reason. If you're applying for a new job for instance and driving is a part of it, your potential new employer can look up your MVR to see what kind of driver you are.
What is a High-Risk Driver?
After you get a hold of your driving record you may find out that you've been classified as a high-risk driver. Insurance companies will label someone a high-risk driver if they meet a variety of different criteria. In general, being a high-risk driver means that insurance companies think you are a greater liability, which means they're going to charge you more to be insured. A number of different factors can affect your status as a high-risk driver. This can include the type of car you drive, your credit history, and of course your driving record.
As far as your driving record goes, you will likely be considered a high-risk driver if you had one or more accidents in the past, you have multiple speeding tickets and other traffic violations, if you've ever been convicted of driving under the influence, or if you've only just got your driver's license. Other factors not really related to your driver’s record include things like a poor credit history or certain types of cars. If you drive a very high value vehicle for instance, like a vintage Aston Martin or a Lamborghini Diablo, the insurance company is likely going to make you pay a little extra for it.
How Long Does It Take to Not Be a High-Risk Driver?
If you found yourself listed as a high-risk driver then your average insurance company is going to put you on the timer of about 3 years. If you're able to maintain a solid driving record with no accidents for that time, then you can get off the high-risk driver list. That's a general rule of thumb however and it's not necessarily set in stone by any means. Different insurance companies may have different factors that they may take into consideration, and it also varies from state-to-state.
You may also be able to limit the time you stay on a high-risk drivers list or get yourself off by doing things like taking defensive driving courses or other drivers ed classes that can count towards being a more responsible driver. Not only can these get you off the list, they can also lower the insurance rates you’ll pay going forward.
How Can I Get Cheap Car Insurance with a Bad Driving Record?
If you're classified as a high-risk driver then you're going to end up paying more for car insurance, no matter what. The cheapest car insurance is generally reserved for those who have proven themselves to be good drivers over a long period of time.
Insure.com did a rate analysis and determined that on average, drivers are going to pay 79% more for their insurance after a single drunk driving conviction. You'll pay 71% more if you have bad credit and are in a state which allows that to factor into your insurance rates. You'll pay 32% more after an at-fault accident that injured somebody else and as much as 43% more if you have two speeding tickets.
In general, your driving record is really going to give you a kick in the wallet if it's not on the up-and-up. It's still possible to get some better insurance rates, but definitely not as good as you would get with a clean driving record.
The best thing you can do is make sure you're thoroughly comparing rates between different insurance companies. The variation from one company to another can be quite dramatic as some companies will assess extremely harsh penalties to high-risk drivers and others will not take these matters quite so seriously.
The difference between one insurance company and another can be quite staggering. For instance, if you're looking for a full coverage policy but you have bad credit a company like Geico might only charge you $2,084 for your policy. Compare that to Farmers which will charge you $3,039. Likewise, Geico is going to charge you $1,449 if you've got a speeding ticket on your record but All State will charge you around $2,239.
Your best bet is to get in touch with five or six insurance companies and see what they can offer you based on your individual conditions. There are so many variables here we can't give you an exact quote without knowing more so you'll have to take that into your own hands and discuss it with insurance companies as you do some comparison shopping.
There are a handful of companies that do specifically work with high-risk drivers to make it easier for you which includes The General, Direct Auto Insurance, Titan Insurance, Dairyland Insurance, Geico, Infinity Insurance, Safe Auto, Gainsco, Bristol West, Affirmative Insurance, United Automobile Insurance, and a handful of others.
Why Do I Need a Copy of My Driving Record?
Knowing what's on your driving record is helpful for more than just the sake of curiosity, insurance companies do make mistakes from time to time. If you are a high-risk driver especially, knowing the exact dates and nature of any infractions that may be on your record can help you ensure you're getting the best rates possible. If you're sure about the dates things happened and the insurance company has the wrong dates or information, when you're using the same document they are to determine what kind of insurance rates you're going to get it can be helpful in supporting your case for lower rates.
It's also possible that you can request an expungement of penalty points on your record if there is reason to do so. Perhaps you're just approaching the 5-year mark on something or any other situation like that where you have had an exemplary record for a period of time and want to have the points removed from your record. It's possible that you could do this with a copy of the records to prove your case.
The Bottom Line
The information on your driving record can affect not just your insurance rates but potential employment going forward. It's a good idea to be familiar with what it says and what you can do about getting rid of any information that may be holding you back in terms of employment or insurance if enough time has passed. A lot of times you just have to take an insurance company at their word when they assess what kind of rate they're offering you, so this puts a little of that power back in your corner to make sure that you're not being taken advantage of or that someone just didn't misread some information or overlook something and assess you incorrectly and unfairly for insurance that you shouldn't be paying.
As you saw from the differences between insurance rates that we listed above, and those are just a couple of the many different possibilities, you can be getting the exact same policy with the exact same driver's record for a difference of well over $1,000. That's not the kind of money you want to be throwing away for no reason, especially if it's all based on someone's misunderstanding of your driving record. The best thing you can do is head to the DMV and pay a couple of bucks to get a copy of it on your own so that you know where you stand and what you can do about ensuring that you're going to get the best rates possible going forward.