A parking ticket does not affect your car insurance premium like a moving violation can. Parking tickets do not go on your driving record as soon as you get one. The danger to your car insurance rates comes into play if you don't pay the ticket. If your license is suspended due to unpaid tickets, the consequences of the suspension can lead to higher auto insurance rates.

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Parking violations vs. moving violations and your car insurance

A parking ticket affects your car insurance much differently than a moving violation does. A parking ticket is typically issued for one of the following infractions: 

  • Parking too long in a time-limited zone.
  • Letting the parking meter expire.
  • Parking in a restricted zone.
  • Double-parking your car.
  • Parking in the wrong direction.
  • Parking 12+ inches from a curb.
  • Parking too close to an intersection, crosswalk or driveway.

Any of the above actions may result in a parking violation. The good news? Paying a parking ticket is easy. Local government often lets you pay online. You may also be able to pay by phone or mail. If you pay the parking ticket in a timely manner, it shouldn't affect your auto insurance rates.

A moving violation is a much bigger threat to your auto insurance rates. Moving violations include:

  • Running a red light or stop sign.
  • Speeding.
  • Texting while driving. 

The consequences of receiving a moving violation vary. It gets worse if you receive a heavier conviction like a DUI. If you drive under the influence, you may face immediate arrest, along with towing and impoundment of your car. Moving violations are reported to the DMV and, in turn, to your car insurance provider. Insurance companies see moving violations as a sign of high-risk driving, and may often increase your auto insurance rates because of them. Depending on the severity of the moving violation, you could lose your driver's license revoked or suspended and face fines or, in some extreme cases, even jail time.

How unpaid parking tickets affect your car insurance rates

If you don't pay a parking ticket, it may have a negative effect on your auto insurance rates in the long run.

If you let a parking ticket go too long without paying it, your driver's license may be suspended. When you reinstate your license, you may be required to file an SR-22. An SR-22 is a form you're required to file with your state's DMV to prove you carry the minimum required auto insurance liability limits. Due to the high-risk status that comes with a suspended license, you will probably see much higher car insurance rates at your renewal time. This assumes your current auto insurance provider doesn't cancel your policy after the license suspension. In this case, you will probably see higher rates than what you'd normally pay if and when you find a new provider.

On the plus, side unpaid tickets no longer affect your credit score. Your credit score used to be a factor in calculating auto insurance rates in some states. However, in 2016 the National Consumer Assistance plan enacted laws that prevent collections being reported on debts that didn't arise from a contract or agreement the consumer agreed to pay, including parking tickets.

How to avoid parking tickets

The best way to avoid the risk of a rate hike due to an unpaid parking ticket is prevention. Here are some tips: 

  • Keep an eye on the signs: Anti-gridlock, no-standing zone and stop signs are spots to steer clear of when parking . You can even get a ticket for sitting in your car in a no-standing zone, so keep an eye on where you stop.
  • Feed the meter: It may be tempting to ignore the parking meter, put on your emergency lights and run into the store for just a minute, but it's not worth the spare change you would save. In fact, the flashing lights actually increase the chance that parking enforcement will pay attention to your car.
  • Use a garage: If you'll be parked for more than an hour, parking your car in a pay garage is your best option. While it may be pricey, it will likely cost less than a parking ticket. 

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