Cheap DUI Car Insurance Guide
Once you have a DUI conviction on your record, your life may feel like it’s gotten much more expensive. You have to pay fines and fees to the court and you’ll likely also be facing a steep increase in your auto insurance. A judge may have ordered you to file an SR-22 (or an FR-44 or FR-19) form. Your insurance company may handle this task for you. This form tells your state that you do carry insurance as required under state law.
If you are a college student, you may find that the Financial Aid office looks much more closely at your background when you apply for financial aid from now on. Future landlords will also find this information if they conduct background checks on you. Your current or future employment may be impacted by your DUI conviction as well. Even if you are the most-qualified candidate, employers may choose to pass you over.
Should I Report my DUI Conviction?
Being honest and reporting your conviction will often work in your best interests. As embarrassing as it is to do so, your new insurance company will appreciate your forthrightness. In return, the agent will look for the most affordable insurance quote that is now available to you. Remember, insurance companies are required to run background checks and they will find that conviction on your record whether you tell them about it or not. Reporting your DUI will actually make your life a little easier—you won’t have to see your new policy canceled. That means you don’t have to start a new search for insurance.
If your DUI conviction takes place in the middle of your current insurance term, you won’t feel the pain of an increase until it’s renewal time. Because insurance companies do carry out motor vehicle reports, they will find out about your conviction when your renewal comes up. Per their guidelines, they may increase your rates or cancel your insurance policy completely.
Can You Lose Your Insurance Due to DUI?
Insurance companies may refuse to cover drivers with DUI convictions on their records. While this isn’t true of every insurance provider, it is something you need to keep in mind as you prepare to speak to your provider. Insurance companies that refuse to insure drivers with a DUI often refer these individuals to other insurance companies that do provide post-DUI coverage.
Once you’ve been arrested for DUI, your insurance company may cancel your policy. If your driver’s license is suspended before you are prosecuted, then your insurance company is much more likely to cancel your policy.
What if You’re Denied Coverage?
Auto insurance is legally mandatory in all 50 states in the US. The law requires you to buy an established minimum of liability insurance before you are allowed to drive, though each state has the right to decide what they count as “minimum” insurance. In some states, a past criminal history, which includes DUIs, running red lights, or hit and run accidents are valid reasons for denial of coverage. Your insurance provider must maintain your policy if it has been in effect for more than 60 days. The exceptions to this rule include a revocation or suspension of your driver’s license due to DUI.
Your policy may also not be renewed due to a DUI on your record. In this case, the insurance company is looking at potential financial losses should you be arrested for DUI again, or a costly accident that may be due to DUI or other factors. If you have been denied insurance coverage, either with your current provider or a different provider, then insurance companies that provide vehicle insurance to high-risk drivers may be your only choice. You won’t be able to get the lower premium rates that you got before being arrested and convicted of DUI—now, your premiums will be considerably higher.
How Does a DUI Affect Your Insurance Rates?
If your insurance company does choose to continue providing you with insurance coverage, your rates are definitely going to jump. Fortunately, you won’t have to shop around. Once you see your new rates, you may choose to look around to see if you can find less expensive coverage. Do side-by-side comparisons and look at the DUI rates, since this is what you’ll be offered. As you look for a policy that will be more affordable, don’t be surprised to see increases ranging from 33% to 125%.
If you are required to buy DUI insurance, your premiums may increase by up to 371%, depending on your state of residence. Keep these numbers in mind: The average post-DUI premium is about $2,600; the average increase in dollars after a DUI is more than $1,150; and the average percentage of increase post-DUI is about 80%.
How long will you be required to pay these rates? State laws dictate this. At the low end, expect to pay the higher DUI premiums for about 3 years. Some states maintain a DUI on your record for five to seven years, or even more. This means you’re going to pay those higher rates for a much longer time.
How to Find the Best Cheap Car Insurance After a DUI
If your current auto insurance policy gets canceled after you have been charged with, or convicted of DUI, you’ll have to find a new policy. That new policy will cost considerably more in each renewal period.
Your search will take time and effort. From one insurance agency to the next, you’ll find insurance rates are much higher than you were used to paying. This is because insurance companies across the table now view you as a “high risk” driver. The next biggest mistake you can make as you look for a new policy is to accept the first one without looking around to compare rates. You already know your new rates will be much higher. Even though your insurance is higher than before, you still have to maintain the minimum coverage required by your state, so comparing rates makes sense.
Average prices for a driver with a DUI on their record can vary wildly: a policy can cost $4,848 annually in a city in Michigan, while in rural Ohio, drivers charged or convicted of DUI could pay only $614 annually. There’s quite a difference there. Keep in mind that Ohio drivers generally pay less for auto insurance, regardless of their status and Michigan drivers pay more across the board, but that doesn’t change the fact that your costs can vary wildly depending on a host of factors, and which company you use is one of them.
Regardless of which state you live in, you’ll likely be looking for the least expensive car insurance after your DUI. Four of this country’s largest insurance companies offer, on average, an annual rate of $967 all the way up to $2,058. In between, you’ll find two other companies offering about $1,154 annually and $1,267 per year.
Don’t go by the least expensive rates of one insurer in one state. In another state, their rates may be much higher. Shopping around and comparing rates per insurer for your state and your specific community is the only way to make sure you’re really getting the best rate. Each state may have insurance companies that provide coverage only within that state’s borders.
How Long Does a DUI Affect Your Rates?
That depends on your state of residence. Each state governs vehicle insurance providers in such areas as premium rates and how high those rates can go. When it comes to customers who have driven under the influence, the insurance providers will increase their rates noticeably for those drivers.
Another factor that affects your insurance premium is how long your state keeps your DUI on your record. This ranges from three years and up—states like California maintains this information on your record for 10 years. In New Mexico, a DUI stays on your DMV record for 55 years! Depending on when the DMV clears your offense from your record, you should be able to buy less expensive insurance then.
What are these forms and what do they do? Each form is mandatory for the state in which it is enforced.
The SR-22 is a Certificate of Financial Responsibility. It tells your state that you carry auto insurance, post-DUI.
An FR-44 has a similar function, but it's only effective in Florida and Virginia. This form also requires that you carry much more liability coverage.
The FR-19 tells your state that you carried auto insurance in the past. This form is issued in Virginia and Maryland; as you change insurance providers, it informs the state that you have had continuous coverage.
What Else Affects My Insurance Premiums?
Several factors affect your monthly insurance premiums. A DUI isn’t the only one. Other factors include demographics; the deductibles, coverages, and limits you select; anti-theft features in your vehicle; driving habits; and finally, your driving record.
High-value and sports cars are more expensive to insure. If those vehicles have safety features such as anti-lock brakes, you may receive a discount on your premium.
If you have a driving record that is virtually free of moving violations and auto accidents; your rate will be lower.
The area in which you live and where you park at night also affect your insurance. Insurance companies know that urban areas suffer higher incident rates.
Your gender and age influence your premiums. Less-experienced male drivers who are younger than 25 pay more, as they are more likely to be in accidents and, therefore, higher risk drivers.
The types of coverage you choose and the deductible you choose to pay before your insurance covers a claim also influences your premium.
How to Make Sure You Get the Best Policy for You
Your insurance premium is pushing your monthly budget into the stratosphere, but it will eventually come back down depending on what you do post-DUI. While you are required to hold insurance, it doesn’t have to destroy your budget. Today, more high-rated insurance companies offer good, high-quality policies for post-DUI drivers. The sticking point is that you have to spend a considerable amount of time looking around. Any insurance company will look at how risky you were before you were arrested and convicted of DUI—this also affects your new premiums.
If you hold a homeowner’s policy, it’s a good idea to ask if you can get a discount for combining your auto and homeowner’s policies. Bundling is one of the biggest ways insurance companies allow you to save money without missing out on insurance coverage.
If you lost your license, take steps to get it back. This requires that you file statements of responsibility, such as the SR-22 or FR-44. In the interim, consider buying a non-owner policy. This will cover your state’s liability coverage requirement; even better, it’s a step toward reinstatement of your driver’s license.
While you are without a license and car, do a little more math. Show the court that you are being responsible in how you get around. Take the bus or hire a Lyft or Uber driver. Even at the per-ride rate, this could be less expensive than paying a high insurance premium.
If you don’t lose your license to suspension or revocation, use this as a way of showing your state that you take your DUI arrest/conviction seriously. Take a safe driver course and take the certificate of completion to your insurance company to get a lower rate.
Final Thoughts and Summary
Your life has changed considerably after your arrest and/or conviction for DUI. You may have lost driving privileges or even your job. If you kept your license and vehicle, your insurance premiums skyrocketed.
Going to court and paying fines may have opened your eyes—you won’t drive under the influence again. The shame of standing in court and admitting to your family what happened should help strengthen your decision to avoid drinking and driving. You know your DUI will affect you for the next several years; it may affect your ability to get certain jobs in the future, but there is a way to continue receiving insurance. It will take time to find a plan that works for you, but don’t give up. There are companies out there that specialize in helping people in exactly your predicament, and the more you can do to show them you are taking your conviction seriously, the more likely you are to obtain affordable car insurance, even if the premiums are higher than usual till the DUI is off your record.