When dealing with insurance, people always tell me after so many years, certain offenses "come off" your record and your insurance prices go down. I'm curious how this works.

I don't have any serious infractions and my insurance is not unreasonably high, this is motivated by pure curiosity.

The two infractions that I do have from when I was a teenager, I am able to find the court records by going to the specific county court. But my current insurance provider doesn't know what county I lived in when I was younger, so unless they searched every court in the nation, they wouldn't be able to find anything, and if they did, I'm not sure they could even prove it's me. Additionally, I can't expect court records to ever expire. The judge clocked time that day, a trail happened, my gut says the record of that really shouldn't ever disappear.

So what does it mean when someone says an infraction is "on your public record"? How is that accessed?

Thank you.

  • Insurance companies don't look for each policy holder's record across the country. There are data aggregators that specialize in consolidating that information and providing it as a subscription service. Here's a link to one service's instructions: epic.org/privacy/choicepoint/fcraltr/mvrhowtoread.pdf
    – Dave D
    Commented Oct 31, 2018 at 17:02

1 Answer 1


For purposes of determining auto insurance rates, your driving record excludes any accident or offense older than a certain number of years (the number depends on the state, and possibly on the kind of offense or incident).

This is not the same as your criminal record. Convictions are only removed from your criminal record by court order, which is somewhat rare, except the juvenile offenses are normally removed after you become an adult (again the rules vary by state).

But to speak of "Your criminal record" as if it were a single definite thing is misleading. The actual legal record is in the files of the court(s) where cases were heard, mostly at the county level, soem at the local level. Information about these cases gets copied to various other databases, both governmental and private, but none of them are guaranteed to be complete. Minor offenses form some years ago may not be listed. If someone needs to compile a complete criminal record on a person, they would need to check with various databases and perhaps the actual court files. This can be expensive, so it isn't routinely done.

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