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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Drinking and driving is dangerous. Each year, thousands of people are killed in drunk driving accidents, and many more experience property damage and injuries as a result of drunk drivers. In order to reduce the impact of these accidents, state laws crack down hard on offenders, and the consequences of a DUI charge can be severe. In some cases, repeat offenders will permanently lose their licenses and some people may face a suspended license after just one conviction.
In addition to the legal ramifications of a DUI, a driver’s auto insurance will also be affected. Drunk driving poses an exceptional risk factor to insurers, and many insurance companies are unwilling to provide coverage to people who engage in that behavior. The cost of auto insurance will rise significantly after a DUI conviction, and in some cases the driver’s policy may be terminated by the insurer. When this occurs, the insured will need to find a new company, and the costs may be quite high.
How much do car insurance rates increase after a DUI?
There is no set answer to the question of how much a person’s rates may increase, because there is no set baseline for insurance rates. Numerous factors are involved in determining the cost of a person’s insurance. A driver’s overall driving history, credit score, age and other factors will all influence premiums.
If a driver previously had an excellent driving record, the cost of insurance may increase more from a DUI than if a less-than-ideal driver got the same charge. This occurs because some drivers have safe driving rewards that may reduce the overall cost of auto insurance; if these rewards are lost due to unsafe driving practices or car accidents, the rate increase will be more severe than if there was no reward to lose.
Some people’s rates may increase by only a few hundred dollars each year; other people may see their rates double or even triple after a DUI incident. Rates will be further affected if the DUI caused an auto accident or if the charges were particularly severe, such as driving with a very high BAC.
Many insurance companies will cancel an auto policy after a DUI, especially if the DUI caused an accident. This can lead to the claim being denied, which will result in substantial cost to the insured as they will now need to pay the cost of the collision out of pocket. The resulting lawsuits can have a much higher financial effect than the increase in insurance rates will.
If you do get a DUI, you will also need the services of a DUI lawyer. He or she will help you navigate any resulting lawsuits as well as dealing with legal punishments; the attorney may also be able to assist with your auto insurance if a claim is denied, although they will not be able to stop the insurance company from canceling your policy.
How do I get car insurance after a DUI?
It’s not impossible to get auto insurance after a DUI, but it is usually more expensive. Depending on your situation, you may need to purchase insurance from a high-risk insurer. Some insurance companies specialize in affordable high-risk auto insurance, but the price will still be higher than the cost of regular insurance for safe drivers.
Drivers found to be at a very high risk may not qualify for regular auto insurance at all and must instead purchase an assigned-risk auto policy. This type of policy is underwritten by numerous insurers and has certain stipulations that will limit the coverage a driver can carry. Most assigned-risk policies will not allow an insured to carry full coverage unless the vehicle has a lien holder that requires it.
After several years of safe driving with no further DUIs, a driver may be able to reduce the cost of auto insurance and switch to a lower-risk policy. In the meanwhile, the insured can also save money on auto insurance by agreeing to install an ignition interlocking system, taking an AA class or participating in other programs that will help show the insurer that you will drive responsibly.
Of course, the best way to avoid the high cost of a DUI is to never drink and drive. If you plan to drink when you go out, always have a designated driver available, and take advantage of alternate forms of transportation like taxis whenever possible. Nevertheless, sometimes people do make mistakes and if that happens, you should be prepared for the possible increase to your insurance rates.