My husband has a slightly spotty driving record, largely thanks to his longtime penchant for speeding. He started going a little easier on the gas pedal once he saw that his bad habits really were affecting his auto insurance rates, but he’s still got to dig out from under the hole of his demerit points. To help him along – and to satisfy my own curiosity – I did some research into the process of clearing a troubled driving record.
What Are Demerit Points?
First, the basics: just what are demerit points, exactly?
All drivers begin with clean records, but when a person commits a driving infraction, he or she may accrue demerit points in addition to applicable fines and other penalties. The more serious the infraction, the greater the number of demerit points it carries.
Actual demerit point penalties vary from province to province, but here is a sample of the relative severity of different driving offences:
Serious offences (6-7 points) include things like:
- Failing to remain at the scene of an accident
- Speeding (more than 50 km/h over limit)
- Street racing
- Careless driving
- Failing to stop for a school bus
- Failing to pull over for a police officer
Mid-range offences (4-5 points) include:
- Speeding (30 to 49 km/h over limit)
- Following too closely
Less serious offences (2-3 points) include:
- Distracted driving
- Prohibited or improper turns
- Failing to signal
- Failing to wear a seat belt
- Failing to obey traffic signs or signals
- Speeding (16 to 29 km/h over limit)
- Improper passing
- Failing to safely pass a stopped emergency vehicle
In Alberta, drivers who accumulate between 8 and 15 demerit points will receive a notification from the Ministry of Transportation. This is the first of several disciplinary steps that can culminate with the suspension or outright loss of the driver’s licence.
Drivers who accumulate 15 demerit points within a two-year period will automatically face a 30-day suspension. Those who accumulate 15 or more demerit points twice within a two-year period will have their licences suspended for three months, and if this happens three times in a two-year period, the suspension will be six months. At this point, conditions will be imposed on the driver before his or her licence will be returned.
Things work differently in Ontario. There, drivers accumulating between 2 and 8 points will receive a warning letter, with the possibility of a licence suspension for infractions resulting in 9 to 14 demerit points. Drivers in the 9-to-14 range may also be summoned to a disciplinary interview. At 15 points and up, Ontario drivers face an automatic 30-day suspension.
How Demerit Points Affect Auto Insurance
Beyond the obvious risk of losing one’s licence, demerit points also result in auto insurance increases. Generally, adjustments in auto insurance rates will be made when it comes time to renew the policy.
While each auto insurance provider sets its own policies, I found that the more demerits a driver gets, the greater the insurance increases he or she is likely to face come renewal time. In worst-case scenarios, insurers may opt not to renew the driver’s policy. Depending on the nature of the driver’s infractions, such action may place him or her in the “high risk” category.
Auto Insurance Options for Drivers with Problematic Records
While some auto insurance companies will not cover high-risk drivers, others specialize in providing this type of insurance, albeit at much higher premiums. The objective of high-risk insurance is to provide the driver with an opportunity to improve his or her driving record, to the point where he or she would once again qualify for a standard policy.
It can take quite a long time for a driver to clean up his or her record. Traffic tickets generally stay on a driver’s record for three years, and at-fault accidents usually remain on record for six or seven years. Points are attached to the driver’s licence, not the vehicle, so they will carry over to the purchase of a new car.
One Solution Is to Choose a Progressive Auto Insurance Provider
Unhappy with conventional coverage, in part because my husband’s efforts to drive more safely weren’t being properly rewarded, we’ve recently switched to InsureMy, a progressive insurance company working in Alberta and Ontario. InsureMy works to help keep our premiums low through the use of telematics, a new technology that rewards safer drivers.
Work with a more responsive and flexible provider, see how InsureMy can put insurance to work for you. Call 1-844-410-1896 or email us to get started.