That’s a tough question to answer…
Every insurance company treats tickets differently.
First off, cell phone tickets, or as they are officially called by Ontario’s Highway traffic Act, Shall Not Drive Holding Or Using a Hand-Held Device, are considered minor tickets by most, if not all, insurance companies in Ontario. I am hearing that some companies are considering changing it to a major ticket, though.
Again, every insurance company is different. But, as a general rule, if you have a completely clear record, you’re probably getting an ultra-preferred rate by your insurance company. Add even a minor ticket to that and you’ll lose your preferred rating, meaning that it could cause a significant rate increase.
Another general rule – If you already have some tickets, adding another minor ticket, like a cell phone, ticket to your record probably won’t make much difference.
Keep in mind, though, that if you have several minor tickets on your record, at some point you will reach the threshold where your insurance company will cancel your renewal. You will, then, have to get a policy with a high risk insurance company.
Every insurance company has different rules
I should point out again that every insurance company is different. Every insurance company will treat tickets differently. The best thing to do would be to call me at your renewal and I can quote you with other companies to see if I can get you a better rate. Call me at 1-888-467-5499.
On a side note, you can’t get a cell phone ticket in, say, a mall parking lot. That’s because Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA) does not cover parking lots, only highways. Here is the definition of a highway in the HTA:
“highway” includes a common and public highway, street, avenue, parkway, driveway, square, place, bridge, viaduct or trestle, any part of which is intended for or used by the general public for the passage of vehicles and includes the area between the lateral property lines thereof.”
The key words here are “Between the lateral parking lines.” Basically, if you’re on the road, you can get a ticket under the act; if you’re in a parking lot, you cannot.
UPDATE: It’s been a few years since I wrote this. Almost all insurance companies in Ontario now consider a cell phone ticket to be a major ticket. This could significantly affect your car insurance rates.