How's Your Driving Record?

It's all there on your Motor Vehicle Report.

Ever wondered how car insurance companies come up with the rates they charge?  It's a dizzying maze of formulas and statistics of course, but they rely heavily on something called the Motor Vehicle Report.

What's on a Motor Vehicle Report?

One of the biggest factors in how your insurance rates are calculated is your driving record.  How you've behaved behind the wheel in the past is the number one predictor of how you'll handle your vehicle in the future.

That means the more an insurance company knows about your past driving habits, the better they can determine the risk you pose.

That's where the Motor Vehicle Report comes in.

The state where you live has personal information about you on record.  If you can remember back when you first applied for a driver's license, you may recall that you were required to submit lots of personal data such as:

  • Date of birth
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Eye color
  • Hair color
  • Weight
  • Height

All that personal data is stored by your state's Department of Motor Vehicles and is on record for car insurance companies to access.  The document they receive when requesting this info is called the Motor Vehicle Report (MVR).

There are other factual indications on your MVR, too.  These would be special info about your particular driver's license like:

  • Whether you've ever had your license revoked, suspended or canceled
  • Whether you have any restrictions (for example, you need to wear glasses)
  • The class of your driver's license (for example, motorized watercraft and motorcycles require different class licenses)
  • Any special endorsements you have (for example, are you licensed to drive a school bus?  how about a double trailer?)

What else in on the Motor Vehicle Report?

In addition to the personal data on your MVR, there is also important information about your driving history.  For car insurance companies, this is the juicy stuff, since it signifies behavior.

Any contact with the police you've ever had while driving will be on your MVR.  This will include the following:

  • Speeding tickets
  • Other traffic violations
  • Accident reports
  • Vehicular crimes
  • Points on your license
  • DUI

As you might imagine, the appearance of any of these items on your Motor Vehicle Report is not going to help you out in terms of your car insurance rates!

Who uses the Motor Vehicle Report?

Besides insurance companies who need to assess the risk when insuring you, there are other entities that may request your MVR.

These would be potential employers who might hire you to drive their vehicles.  Since it's a risk to put just anybody behind the wheel, the MVR comes in handy when making hiring decisions.

After all, companies with fleets of trucks are trusting their merchandise to the drivers.  Also, they may be on the line for moving violations their drivers incur while driving company vehicles.

In addition, employers who need drivers to transport hazardous materials will need proof that they have the proper endorsements.

How far back does an MVR go?

Worried about that speeding ticket you got when you were 18?  Don't be...your MVR goes back a long way into your permanent driving record, but car insurance companies generally only look at the most recent five years.

So if your driving habits have improved with age, you may be rewarded with a lower premium.  Just remember: car insurance companies aren't out to punish you for once being a reckless driver in your youth!  They just need to know your most recent driving behavior, and the Motor Vehicle Report is their best tool for obtaining that info.

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