How to Get

Insurance After a DUI

Getting a DUI may seem like a disaster in terms of car insurance.

For many people facing a DUI, your license may be temporarily revoked, you may have to serve some jail time, and your insurance rates will likely be affected when your policy renews. Most major insurers will not raise your rates mid-policy, even when you have no legal driving privileges, so depending on your policy renewal date, you will have a little bit of time to make financial adjustments and to work out a plan.

Unfortunately, there are no circumstances where a DUI has no effect on your car insurance. Your insurer, your employer, and maybe even your car lease may be affected by a DUI conviction. However, with a little bit of planning, you will be able to mitigate damage and make sure that when you’re able to drive again, you won’t necessarily have cheap car insurance, but your premium won’t have to become unaffordable.

How will a DUI affect my car insurance?

For many people facing a DUI, your license may be temporarily revoked, you may have to serve some jail time, and your insurance rates will likely be affected when your policy renews. Most major insurers will not raise your rates mid-policy, even when you have no legal driving privileges, so depending on your policy renewal date, you will have a little bit of time to make financial adjustments and to work out a plan.

The most obvious way it will impact you is through a rise in premiums when it comes time to renew. Some insurers may not give you an option to renew – forcing you to move to a different insurer. Some insurers may move you on to a different type of policy. Others will allow you to continue on the same policy but will raise your premiums.

The figures below show that the actual monetary impact on your premium will vary depending on the city that you are in. In San Francisco, for example, your car insurance will more than double if you get a DUI. In Seattle, it will rise by just over a third.

  • Before DUI
  • After DUI
  • DUI-Related Increase

The average car insurance increase in rates for a post-DUI insurance renewal is 74%, which is a significant increase by any calculation. This corresponds to an average increase rate of $857.53.

Furthermore, these DUI insurance premium hikes will continue for several years after your actual conviction. The number of years you will be forced to declare your DUI depends on which state you live in, although can be up to 10 years or more.

SR-22 Form

Depending on what state you live in, you may need to prove that you have insurance in order to have your license reinstated. That will require you to file an SR-22 form (also called an FR-44 in Florida and Virginia). If you do receive a DUI conviction, then the court will let you know if you need to file one of these forms.

Some insurance companies advertise that they will file these forms on your behalf; this is usually a good sign that they offer insurance to people with DUIs.

However, the policies themselves aren’t called SR-22s – this simply refers to the form that the insurance company will file on your behalf if you hold a policy with them. You will need to pay a one-time fee if you require an insurance company to fill out and send the form for you.

Non-owner SR-22 Form

One potentially savvy way you can save money on your car insurance rates post-DUI is to get non-owner SR-22 insurance.

This insurance is offered if you do not have regular access to a car, and therefore you will not be driving much. You will be covered only for liability insurance. If you have a close friend or partner with whom you can share a car, then a non-owner SR-22 policy will often be the lowest-cost auto insurance rate.

Most importantly, a non-owner SR-22 policy will ensure that you don’t have gaps in your insurance, and you will be able to demonstrate to future insurers that you have had continuous coverage.

A gap in your insurance, compounded by a DUI will mean that future premiums go up much higher. However, having the non-owner SR-22 will alleviate this, and will function as a stop-gap insurance policy.

Improve Your Driving Record

While you can’t expunge a DUI from your driving record until the state limit has expired (three years in most states, although 10 years in California), you can take a series of steps to rehabilitate your reputation when it comes to your insurer.

This will help you to demonstrate to future insurers that you are a responsible and diligent driver.

  • Take Driver’s Ed

    The court may order you to take some form of course as a part of your DUI conviction. If not, it is worth investigating these types of courses anyway. Check to see if there is a credentialed driver’s ed, or defensive driving course in your area. Taking and completing one of these won’t necessarily reverse the impact on the premiums, but it may help to mitigate the rising cost of premiums.

  • Get a Safer Car

    If you have a conviction for drunk driving and drive a sports car, or another luxury vehicle, then you may consider trading in for a more low-cost option.

    Changing your vehicle to something more designed for safety than speed will demonstrate to the insurance provider a more conservative driving approach.

As a general rule, the cheaper the vehicle is to replace or repair, the cheaper it is to insure. Furthermore, if you buy a cheaper vehicle, then you can raise your deductible, because it may not be worth spending $2,000 to repair it. Raising your deductible will result in lower premiums.

The court may also order you to have a breathalyzer installed in your vehicle.

If this is the case, then you will need to declare this to your insurance company. Even if not court-ordered, getting one installed may help to reduce your insurance rates by demonstrating to your insurance company that you are not at risk for another DUI, and have taken active steps to change your situation.

You should check with your insurance company in advance, as they may have favored brands of breathalyzers.

What do I do after getting a DUI?

If you do have a DUI, then the biggest car insurance priority is going to be reducing the cost.

As shown by the table above, your car insurance will nearly double, so attempting to mitigate any price hikes will be an urgent issue at renewal time.

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The court may order you to take some form of course as a part of your DUI conviction. If not, it is worth investigating these types of courses anyway. Check to see if there is a credentialed driver’s ed or defensive driving course in your area. Taking and completing one of these won’t necessarily reverse the impact on the premiums, but it may help to mitigate the rising cost of premiums.

What if I get turned down?

If your driving license is valid, but you keep getting turned down for insurance, then there are alternative options in each state that can help you.

Speak to your local government representative, as they will be best-placed to help you find an insurance policy that works for you. State-based insurance policies are often more expensive than other premiums, and will often offer only liability insurance, meaning that you will have the bare minimum coverage at a high rate.

However, it will ensure that you have coverage, and you won’t have the gap in insurance that will result in future premiums going up.

What else should I do?

The most obvious long-term action you can take is to not get a DUI again.

Getting one DUI is bad enough when it comes to insurance; getting a second, or even a third DUI will have major consequences for your insurance, your rights as a driver, as well as your employment. Consider making long-term behavioral changes that will diminish your chances of a DUI. After all, getting a DUI is not the worst-case scenario of drinking and driving, or driving under the influence of prescription drugs.

Take Public Transport

Given the inevitable rise in the cost of insurance, you will need to do some math to work out if driving is a financially viable decision. Depending on how and when you need to travel, public transport may be a cheaper option, at least in the short term until the DUI is expunged from your record.

Work out how you could travel without a car, and whether you might be able to use a bus or light rail to get where you need to go. A bike may also be a viable option depending on your circumstances.

What if someone else in my household has a DUI?

Again, your first priority when it comes to your insurer is to be as honest as possible. Not mentioning something to your insurance company can constitute insurance fraud.

In other situations, not declaring a DUI in the household can lead to auto insurance companies refusing to pay out a claim. Most companies ask you to disclose high-risk drivers in a household, even if you don’t intend them to drive the car you are getting insured.

If you declare a driver in your household with a DUI, you can have them listed as an excluded driver, meaning that they are not insured to drive your car. This preventative measure will ensure that their DUI does not impact your insurance premiums, and you can still get cheap car insurance.

Ultimately, getting a DUI is a major issue when it comes to getting and keeping car insurance.

Most insurance companies base your future risk against your previous performance. Having a DUI makes insurers think that you are likely to get another one in the future (whatever the circumstances).

However, it doesn’t mean that getting a DUI is something that is indelibly written on your insurance record forever. And it also doesn’t mean that you will never be able to afford car insurance again.

A number of companies have special offers for those who have received DUIs, and there are a number of options you can take if you have received one. Although your premiums will go up, there is a lot you can do to make sure that they won’t go up a prohibitive amount.

With a bit of research, and a bit of luck (dependent on the state where you reside) you will be able to expunge your DUI in a shorter period of time and make sure that you are not priced out of car insurance in the interim.

Reviewed by:
Licensed Insurance AgentCynthia Lanctot

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