Is honesty the best policy?

qWhen life is going along well, there are rarely temptations. You have everything under control and there's no need to cut corners. But as the household budget comes under pressure, you have to keep the cost of essentials like auto insurance under control. No-one wants to risk driving out on the public roads without insurance. Cars are essential to most households. You don't want to be put in the situation of having to choose between food and insuring the car. Yet, if you have picked up a traffic ticket, there's a temptation not to pass the news on to your insurer. You're almost certain the result will be a premium increase, particularly if it was a moving offense - insurers tend to think people who drive too fast or without paying proper attention to the rules of the road are more likely to get into accidents. So what are the issues? Most auto insurance companies treat the ticket as "important" for between three and five years, and raise your premium. The amount of the increase will depend on the offense. A speeding ticket where you were only a few miles per hour over the limit will not have a big effect. But if you were driving under the influence of drink or drugs, the effect will be significant. For starters, in many states, you will be caught up in the SR-22 scene. This is a certificate issued by your insurance company to your state's Department of Motor Vehicles. It certifies that, even though you are a "problem driver", you're carrying the minimum liability covered required by your state. Except that many insurers are unhappy if you have a drink driving or DUI conviction and either refuse cover or charge a deterrent premium. That means getting the SR-22 can be expensive. So you're tempted to keep quiet and hope your insurer will not notice the ticket(s). That keeps the premiums affordable. But, as and when the company finds out, your auto insurance policy will be cancelled. Your failure to disclose facts that were material to assessing the risks and setting the premiums can, if deliberate, be treated as fraud and you could find yourself the subject of prosecution or civil suit. Worse, no other insurance company will then insure you. It's not that honesty is the best policy. It's the only way you can get and keep a policy in place.