How a DUI affects car insurance rates
It should come as no surprise to anyone – whether you’ve recently been stopped for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or are just curious – that a DUI conviction comes with some very serious insurance implications, not to mention the severity of the legal penalties that go along with that.
The punishment can include loss of driving privileges, expensive fines and even jail time depending on the seriousness of the incident and the driver’s past driving record. If arrested and convicted more than once for DUI, the fines increase significantly, and you can even have your license taken away for good.
Once convicted of DUI, finding car insurance isn’t going to be a simple matter. There are a lot of insurance companies who will not take on a driver with a DUI on their record. A broker may be able to help find a company that will – though expect to pay significantly higher prices than you did with a clean diving record. Regardless of the difficulties, having insurance is mandatory across Canada, and taking to the road again without it will only make a bad problem far worse.
It’s an absolute certainty that a DUI conviction is going to raise your car insurance rates. Many drivers need to find policies from insurance companies that specialize in covering those who are high risk, such as drivers with a DUI on their record, and these policies come at a much higher monthly/annual premium.
Someone with a DUI on their record can expect to pay up to five times more for car insurance than drivers with a clean record. The exact premium amount depends on the other surrounding factors, such as the area where you live and the number of claims you make. Each subsequent DUI will increase your car insurance rate further, not to mention the legal fees, fines, and suspension of your license.
Obviously, the best course of action to avoid all this is not to drink and drive in the first place, but once you’ve taken that risk and been caught, that advice does little to help. Beyond the actual DUI conviction, there are still other factors that are going to be considered in getting you a policy in order to drive again.
Here are some things to consider:
Driving Record: If you have a clean driving record prior to your DUI and maintain a clean driving record after, that’s going to help some.
Increasing Your Deductible: Policies with higher deductibles are less expensive, and can help you save a bit on premiums while you rebuild your driving history.
Take Classes: Like new driver’s who’ve taken a Driver’s Education Course, enrolling in one of the classes recommended for those with a DUI conviction demonstrates an interest in improving your safety record and committed to staying sober while behind the wheel.
Make and Model of Your Car: The type of car you drive impacts the rate of your insurance.
Time. While no one likes to hear this, a DUI conviction is going to hurt your rates for a while… and every renewal that passes without another DUI, accident or claim is going to help.
Other things to consider
When your insurance carrier finds out you have a DUI, there are a number of things that can happen. Keep in mind the company has the right to cancel your policy in many cases. Some insurance companies will maintain your coverage but raise your rate, but many will decline to cover you.
Your insurance company also has the right to refuse to cover your claims if it finds out that you have a DUI on your driving record that you did not disclose when purchasing the policy. If your insurance carrier hasn’t been informed of your DUI conviction and you have a claim later, they are within their rights to void your insurance. As a result, it would be similar to not being insured at all.
Will Your Premiums Ever Return to Normal?
The implications of a DUI conviction last for a while, but you won’t be paying the higher rates for insurance forever. If you can maintain a clean driving record without filing claims, your insurance rates should continue to decrease each year that passes. After several years, you’ll be able to purchase the car insurance of your choice at a normal rate for your area. But this does take some time.
In Ontario, for instance, the conviction will remain on your record for three years. A license suspension from a DUI conviction stays on your record for at least six years. If you’ve maintained an otherwise clean driving record for six years, you should be able to purchase an auto insurance policy at the standard rate for your area. You also do not need to disclose the DUI if it’s more than six years old.