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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Driving under the influence is one of the most dangerous activities that people partake in on any given day. Auto accidents are one of the leading causes of deaths for young people, and as many as half of fatal car accidents are caused by drunk driving. In order to curb these fatalities and reduce the number of collisions that occur each year, drunk driving laws are strictly enforced.
Depending on your state, a DUI conviction could lead to a suspended license, jail time or even a permanently-revoked right to drive. Most states have increased penalties for subsequent DUI convictions. No matter how your state punishes drunk drivers, your insurance company will charge a higher premium to people with a history of drunk driving.
The amount of this premium increase will depend upon a number of factors:
— The severity of the DUI. In some cases, both the insurance company and the law will react more harshly to people who drive with a BAC substantially over the legal limit than one just above it. This is due in part to the fact that a higher percentage of DUI accidents are caused by severely impaired drivers.
— Whether it’s your first infraction. First-time DUI convictions may cause a substantial rate increase, but subsequent convictions will lead to higher increases or even terminated policies.
— If you caused an accident. A DUI that does not result in a collision may not have as much impact on the cost of your premiums as a DUI that causes an accident. If you get into a wreck while under the influence, your insurance company will raise your rates both for the DUI and for the car accident itself.
— Whether you retain your license. Most insurance companies will not cover drivers who do not have active driver’s licenses, so if your license has been suspended or revoked due to a DUI conviction, you may lose your insurance entirely.
How much will my car insurance rates increase after a DUI?
The actual monetary value of the rate increase will vary depending upon these factors and the insurance company’s own regulations. It’s hard to tell in advance how much a person’s policy may be affected by a DUI, accident or any other event.
Your agent may be able to give you a rough idea in advance, but most insurance companies won’t know exactly how much a policy will be affected until the policy goes through renewal. The rates themselves are determined through a computerized algorithm, and numerous factors are included in these calculations.
Bear in mind that your insurance rates cannot increase midway through a policy, so you might not see the higher rates right away. Assuming that your policy is not terminated immediately, you may not see the rate increase for several months. When the policy renews, the premiums may be as much as two or three times higher than your old rates.
The people who are hit worst by DUI convictions, car accidents or other policy increases are those who had previously been good drivers. This is because an accident or DUI will cause you to lose any safe driving discounts you may have previously enjoyed. This means that your policy will increase substantially more than if you simply add another flaw to an already-bad insurance record.
Of course, at some point insurance companies will simply refuse to renew a policy. This may occur after a single DUI or it may take a combination of violations and accidents, but your insurance company may determine that you are too high-risk to continue insuring.
No matter what happens, the insurance company will send you a letter informing you of their decision and if there’s anything you can do to overturn it.
Getting Auto Insurance After a DUI
Purchasing a new insurance policy after a DUI is difficult but not impossible. You will need to have your driver’s license reinstated before purchasing a policy, but once you are able to legally drive you should be able to get car insurance.
You may need to purchase a policy through a high-risk insurance company if a standard insurer will not cover you. In some cases, you may need to purchase an assigned risk policy; this is a special type of insurance that’s underwritten by multiple companies and mandated by the state. Under an assigned risk policy, you can only carry liability coverage and your rates will generally be much higher than through standard insurance.
In order to reduce the amount of car insurance payments after a DUI, you may need to modify your policy. Dropping full coverage, increasing your deductible or lowering your liability limits can all help reduce the amount of your insurance premiums. You may also get a discount if you agree to take a driving course or attend AA meetings.
Of course, the best way to keep your rates low is to drive safely and avoid drinking and driving. Mistakes do sometimes happen, however, and knowing what will happen with your insurance policy after a DUI is a good way to prepare yourself and budget for your future.