Surcharges for traffic violations go-back 3-5 years depending on the state in which you live. Traffic courts have a relatively unknown system where you can plead no contest in combination with deferred adjudication. The court will charge you a surcharge for this service, but if you do not receive another violation during the following six months, the ticket vanishes without a note on your driving record.
For minor claims that are near the cost of your deductible, pay for those out of your own pocket. Each claim, regardless of the cost of repairs, adds up the same way in the eyes of your insurance company. The penalties that insurance companies charge can last 3-5 years depending on the company. So in the long run you might be paying quite a bit more for minor damage than just paying to have the damage repaired yourself.
Oddly, your credit rating plays a part in how insurance companies determine your insurance rates. This is true in most states except for California. Because insurance is a business of applying risk, any behavior that may make you seem like a higher risk becomes a surcharge on your policy. Insurance research has found a way to link poor credit with risk.
If you want to switch insurance companies, make sure that your previous policy is still in place before you switch. Having prior coverage can save you as much as 50% in surcharges.
Many insurance companies offer discounts for odd things like your career choice, or if you have a college degree, whether or not you own a home. It is essential that you ask about additional discount programs when you are shopping around for home or auto insurance. Wondering much money you could be saving?