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Driving record: Here’s how you can get a copy before buying insurance [VIDEO]

  • Auto Insurance
  • Renee Martin
  • 6 minutes

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You may have read that keeping a clean driving record could help you get lower car insurance rates. But have you ever wondered how you could get a copy of your driving record so that you know your car insurance provider isn’t taking you for a ride? Read on to find out.

Your driving record is one of the key elements determining how much you spend on car insurance. You might have heard that having a stellar report card of your driving can help lower your insurance rates. As far as car insurance companies are concerned, a history of accidents or significant traffic offenses makes you a higher insurance risk and will almost certainly increase your premiums.

But how can you find out what’s on record and how it affects your insurance rates? Let’s find out.

What’s in my driving record?

A driving record, often known as a motor vehicle report (MVR), is a public document that contains information about your driving history. It contains a history of offenses committed during the past three to ten years. How long does an offense remain on record? Well, the nature of the offense and the state in which you reside determine you long an offense stays on the record. Your driver’s history contains the following information:

  • Your name, sex, and address
  • License number, classification, status, and expiration date
  • Points, DUIs, fines, suspensions, and revocations
  • Traffic violations and convictions, like speeding and traffic tickets
  • Record of your accidents

The following items are not on your driving record:

  • Non-moving violations
  • Criminal past that isn’t related to driving

Read: How long does a DUI stay on my insurance record?

Is my driving record confidential?

If driving records are public documents, can anyone access them? Well, that’s a good question, and the answer depends on the state you live in. That isn’t to say that anyone can look at a copy of your driving history.¬†

Most states require the driver’s consent to release the records. In some states, the individual who requests your driving history must have access to your personal information, such as your driver’s license number.¬†

But let’s say you’ve applied for a new job. Now, the company that wants to hire you may conduct a background check and may need access to your driving record. Even in this scenario, you must still provide your permission. Most background checks use a third-party service to get your driving record. Third-party access to driving records is typically unofficial, and the data is often inaccurate.

Read: Do parking tickets go on your insurance record?

Different types of records

Based on the state where you reside, your DMV can provide several different driving records. For example, the state of New York has three different types of driving records: standard, limited, commercial. 

A standard driving record contains information that the DMV must preserve, which is typically the most recent years of driving history. A limited driving record includes all of the DMV’s information on a driver. On the other hand, a commercial driving record includes all actions, including suspensions, for any vehicle in any state.

Meanwhile, North Carolina has four types of records ‚Äď Residential history records, certified true copies, complete extract copies, and limited extract copies. Residential history record provides information about your driving violations within the state, while certified true copies are complete records designed for formal use by government and state entities and courts.¬†

You can obtain complete extract copies of your driving history for your personal use. You can also send these copies to employers or insurance providers. Limited extract copies typically contain your driving record for the past three years. Employers can utilize this document as part of a background check or by insurance firms to set prices.

How can I get a copy?

In general, you can get copies of your driving record in three ways – through the state’s DMV, your insurance agent, or third-party vendors.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

The DMV can provide you with an official copy in person or by mail. The DMV does not offer expedited processing for driving records, so place a request as soon as possible. Depending on the state, requesting your official driving history costs around $10. 

Note: DMV offices only accept cash, check, money order, or ATM/debit cards when paying in person. Credit cards are not accepted.

You could also get an unofficial copy via the internet, and unofficial copies are less expensive.

Car insurance agents

Your driving record is also available to auto insurance agents. Your car insurance carrier can look into your records and present you with an unapproved driving report.

Third-Party Online Vendors

This is the quickest way to get a copy of your driving record. However, obtaining a copy of your driving record through a third party can often be expensive. What’s more, the information may not be accurate or up-to-date.

How long do car accidents stay on record?

Your state’s legislation determines the duration of an accident on record. Typically, an accident remains on the record for three to five years. Learn more about it here.

If you’ve had an accident on your record, make sure you don’t add any new violations or accidents, as that’s the only way you can guarantee your car insurance rates do not rise. Meanwhile, you could inquire about car insurance discounts that lower your rates. Alternatively, you could raise your deductibles in exchange for a reduced premium. You can also look around for the best auto insurance rates to get the best deal. Start your search for your next car insurance policy by tapping the banner below.

driving record

Why is a good driving record important for car insurance?

As part of the underwriting process for car insurance, the insurance company undertakes a risk assessment. This evaluation helps them determine if you, the person seeking insurance, are low or high-risk. The best way to assess your risk is to review your driving record. The insurance provider can determine the amount of insurance risk you pose based on the frequency and severity of recent driving offenses and collisions.

If the person seeking insurance has a history of accidents or traffic violations, they are more likely to repeat these offenses in the future. They’ll are also prone to filing multiple expensive claims. Such persons may be deemed too dangerous to insure, and insurance companies can charge a higher rate to compensate for the likelihood of paying claims. This is why you must maintain a clean driving record. Want to get better at driving? Check out this blog to improve your driving skills!¬†

Read more blogs on affordable airport parking, the best insurance for your car, and top-rated car washes near you.



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