Three big misperceptions about auto insurance

We've all been there.

After getting that dreaded traffic ticket and paying the requisite fine, you wait for the second shoe to drop: A higher insurance premium.

But according to a new study from insuranceQuotes.com, the likelihood of traffic tickets leading to higher premiums is far lower than what drivers may fear.

Woman receiving speeding ticket from police officer
Pamela Moore | iStock | Getty Images Plus

In fact, just 19 percent of Americans who got a traffic ticket in the last five years saw their insurance premiums rise, the study found. (Tweet this)

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"It's not a guarantee a speeding ticket will mean higher insurance premiums," said Laura Adams, senior industry analyst for insuranceQuotes.com.

So what's behind the disconnect?

The key factor is how often a driver's insurance company checks into their record. While this frequency depends on factors including the driver's age, it's something that doesn't happen as often as one might think. That's because insurance companies have to pay state motor vehicle departments for data requests, the costs of which vary by state.

"Insurance companies don't automatically know if you got a speeding ticket," Adams said. "As you age, especially if you have not had many violations, they do fewer data checks."

Other misperceptions about who's being ticketed include:

• Young drivers are riskier and more likely to get a traffic ticket.

Over the last five years, 25 percent of drivers 18 to 29 years old were ticketed, while 31 percent of those between ages 30 and 49 received moving violations, Adams said.

• Once a driver is in their 30s their insurance premium is less likely to rise after a traffic ticket

InsuranceQuotes.com said premiums can rise at any age, but drivers between the ages of 18 and 49 who get a moving violation are three times more likely to see their monthly payment go up than ticketed drivers who are 50 and older.

To be sure, Adams said there are certainly cases in which a speeding ticket or traffic accident citation have caused insurance premiums to spike. For example, those ticketed with reckless driving will see premiums increase an average of 83 percent, according to insuranceQuotes.com.

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But for a relatively minor moving violation, such as driving one to 15 miles above the speed limit, the average increase is 21 percent.

The penalties become much more severe for those who are caught driving under the influence, Adams said.

"With a DUI, the insurance companies will find out almost immediately because the states notify them," she said. "In those cases, the average insurance premium jumps 91 percent."

—With contributions from Mark Fahey.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.