Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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Getting convicted of a minor traffic infraction can affect your rates, but not nearly as much as when a driver is caught driving under the influence. Driving under the influence is extremely dangerous and puts you, your family, and others on the roadways at risk. Since it is a choice to take the risk and drive intoxicated, you must be prepared to pay the consequences if and when you get caught. One of the consequences, aside from paying hefty court costs and fines, is being flagged for cancelation of your car insurance policy.

While not all companies will cancel your coverage following a DUI conviction, standard companies with stricter guidelines might not accept any household with a driver who has a serious conviction. When this happens, you will need to begin to shop for coverage before your policy terminates and you are left uninsured and in violation with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Start comparing car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool below! Read this guide to buying auto insurance after DUI, and learn everything that you need to know so that you can take all of the appropriate steps.

Why does a DUI conviction affect car insurance rates?

Some might assume that a DUI will only really have an impact on rates if it results in an accident that leads to property damage or injuries. While this will most certainly increase your rates, you do not have to actually cost the insurer money for the company to deny you coverage, terminate your plan, or reject your application.

Insurance companies have strict underwriting guidelines as to who will qualify for cover and who will not. If anyone has too many tickets, too many accidents, or a major violation that does not fit within the guidelines, that driver will need to be rejected or the household will need to look for coverage elsewhere. This is because the some companies simply do not have the desire or the rate plans to cover someone who might be deemed a high risk.

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How does risk affect car insurance?

Insurance underwriting is all about assessing risk and predicting the likelihood that any driver the company covers will have a loss that will cost the carrier money. The company spends a great deal of time and money researching statistics, reviewing trends, checking claims data, and determining which factors have the greatest affect of driving records and driving habits. There are many different rating factors that are used in the process of determining pricing and policy eligibility. Some of these include:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Years of driving experience
  • Marital Status
  • Primary zip code
  • Credit rating (in some states)
  • Occupation
  • Vehicle Usage
  • Annual Mileage
  • Vehicle type, size, safety rating and classification
  • Accident history
  • Driving history

Why is your driving history so important to insurers?

Your driving history is important because it will give the company the most accurate picture of how you behave behind the wheel. If you have a lead foot and you like to drive like you are constantly in a hurry, an indicator of this might be that you have speeding violations or a combination of speeding tickets and accidents.

If you fail to stay focused behind the wheel, you may have multiple non-fault accidents that show your weakness of driving defensively.

If you have a DUI conviction, this is a sign that you take chances and break the law. Add in the fact that the probability that you will get into an accident when your Blood Alcohol Content is above .08% goes up dramatically, and you can see why it is a red flag. You do not have to be at-fault in an accident just for a company to be wary. In fact, most companies are wary before you even have an accident if you have a blemished record.

What happens after you are charged with a DUI criminal offense?

When you are arrested for DUI, you will more than likely have to spend the night in jail. When you go home, the jail will take your license and you will be given a 30-day temporary driving permit. Sometime within the 30 days, you will have an administrative hearing with the DMV in addition to your hearing date with the court. There is a good chance that your license will be suspended or your privilege will be limited.

While this seems like the worst of it, you have not even called your agent to notify them that you need an SR-22 in order to keep your registration. This is when you will have to start prepping to deal with your insurance. How you will handle your depends on the state you live in and whether or not the company has the right to cancel your coverage.

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When can the insurer take action?

An insurance carrier will not automatically hear that you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence. In all honesty, companies do not typically learn of infractions until 45 to 60 days before a renewal when underwriters run motor vehicle reports. At that time, the company may only take action if the DUI shows as a conviction and not as a pending charge. Until you are convicted of the crime that you have been charged with, you will be rated as if you are a driver who does not have a DUI. If your driving privilege is revoked, there may be a chance that your policy can be cancelled mid-term with very little notice.

Start Shopping for Coverage Before you Need an SR-22

If you are convicted or you plead guilty, you should start shopping for coverage early on. Most states require anyone who has a DUI on their record to file proof of financial responsibility, also known as an SR-22, with the department of transportation. Once you ask for this proof, your insurer will know what to look out for and when to set your policy up to be cancelled. By taking the time to get quotes and compare them, you can find out which insurers will approve new policyholders who have DUI’s.

If you want to do a price comparison in the quickest time frame, you can use an online rate comparison tool and begin to shop the market. These online tools have brokerage-style capabilities and can show you instant rate quotes with several different carriers. Start comparing car insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our FREE tool below! Then you will be able to decide which companies will approve you and which have the best rates for high-risk drivers who are now making an effort to drive responsibly. Gather your information and enter it into the fields to save.