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Small violations with a big impact on car insurance costs

By Melissa Neiman Posted : 07/28/2011

Car insurance ticketCar insurance rates can be a mysterious thing. Each insurance company uses its own formula to decide how much to charge you for coverage.

But one fact is almost universally true: the more responsibly you drive, the lower your rates will be.

"Your driving record is one of the key rate-setting criteria auto insurers employ," says Michael Berry, spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute.

Everybody knows that major violations such as DUIs and speeding tickets cause insurance rates to soar. But other, seemingly smaller violations also can make it more difficult to get cheap car insurance.

Robert Passmore, senior director of personal lines for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, says even minor offenses "certainly paint a picture of carelessness" that can cause you to pay more, particularly when they are combined with a record of more serious moving violations.

In some cases, that may result in higher rates. Or you may lose eligibility for certain discount programs.

For example, having several smaller violations may carry the same combined weight as a couple of bigger moving violations, "thereby making you ineligible for the good-driver discount," Passmore says.

The following are violations that are likely to hurt your reputation in the eyes of car insurance companies.

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