A DUI conviction affects more than your criminal record. It will lead to an increase in your insurance premiums once your insurance company discovers it. The chances are that your insurance premiums will be high since a DUI remains on your record for ten years.

Your insurance premiums increase as a DUI makes you a high-risk driver. A high-risk driver is one with a greater chance of causing an accident or property damage that will result in a claim.

The Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law firm helps you fight your DUI charges. We also help you determine if an insurance company offers friendly rates with a DUI record.

Overview

Worrying about the impact of a DUI on your insurance coverage and premiums is normal. Once an insurance company discovers you have a DUI record, it will probably increase your premiums. Therefore you will pay considerably more than your regular premiums. In the worst-case scenario, the company could decline your request to renew your policy.

Fortunately, the law does not require you to report a DUI conviction to your insurance company. The only exception is if you caused an accident, property damage, and injuries that could trigger a claim against your insurance.

You must meet the reporting requirement within ten days of an accident that causes:

  • Any type of injury including minor injuries
  • Death
  • Damage to property amounting to at least $1,000

Drivers arrested for a simple DUI (no injuries, death, or property damage) might get away with paying higher premiums if the conviction goes unnoticed. However, most insurance companies learn of conviction over time.

The common ways an insurance company can discover a DUI conviction include:

  • You self-report the conviction (the law does not require you to report a DUI with no injuries or property damage. Self-reporting typically leads to higher premiums soon. Therefore, you must approach self-reporting cautiously and consult a DUI attorney for advice. However, you could inform a new insurance company if you have a DUI to get the right advice.)
  • You report a DUI-related accident
  • The company runs a background check when issuing a new policy
  • You request an SR-22 certificate to reinstate your suspended driver’s license
  • The insurance company runs a background check when your policy comes up for renewal

Most insurance companies discover a DUI conviction while running a background check. The background check can reveal your DMV driving record as well as your criminal record. Since your DUI record remains for ten years after the first offense, you will, at some point, pay higher premiums.

Luckily, not all insurance companies run background checks for all policy renewals. They rely on algorithms to determine the best time to run a check for every policyholder. Your history with the company can also decide whether or not they run a check or not.

You stand a higher chance of being skipped during a background check if:

  • You are a low-risk driver
  • You have a long no-claim history with the insurance company

Insurance companies avoid running background checks on all clients due to the high cumulative cost of the process. However, they cannot penalize you if they fail to discover a DUI conviction; the company has the burden of discovering a DUI that does not cause injuries, death, or property damage.

For most people, the insurance company will learn about your DUI conviction once you request an SR-22 certificate. An SR-22 certificate is the proof of financial responsibility you present to the DMV to show that you have a limited liability auto coverage.

Requesting the certificate alerts the insurance company of a moving violation. The company might then decide to increase your premiums or cancel the policy when it comes up for renewal.

Understanding High-Risk Drivers

High-risk drivers are those who cannot qualify for a preferred carrier due to several circumstances. Some of these are avoidable, while others such as age are inevitable.

Insurance companies use different parameters to gauge the risk level of different drivers. A DUI automatically makes you a high-risk driver. However, not all high-risk drivers are equal.

Some high-risk drivers have a higher risk compared to others. For example, a teenage driver is a high-risk driver due to his or her age.

If that teenage driver causes an accident, the risk of ensuring that the driver grows exponentially, a 40-year-old driver in a similar accident could be considered a lower risk compared to the teenage driver.

DUI offenses that make you a high-risk driver include:

  • Driving under the influence, VC 23152 a
  • Driving with a BAC of at least .08% VC 23152 b
  • Commercial DUI, VC 23152 d
  • Rideshare driver DUI VC 23152 e
  • DUI of Drugs VC 23152 f
  • DUI causing injury
  • Underage DUI
  • Wet reckless, dry reckless and exhibition of speed conviction as plea bargains to DUI charges

What Insurance Companies Do After Discovering a DUI

Auto insurance companies are established for profit. Therefore, they must vet their clients and potential clients to determine the risk in insuring such clients. An important consideration is your driving record. A person with many points on his or her driving record might fit the profile of a high-risk driver.

Similarly, a DUI makes you a high-risk driver. You are seven times more likely to cause an accident with a BAC of .10%. The risk increases to 25 times more with a BAC of .15% or higher.

Due to such high odds of causing a drunk driving accident, insurance companies might:

  • Decline to issue you a new policy
  • Decline to renew your existing policy
  • Increase the premiums you have to pay
  • Remove a good driver discount (mandated by law)

Fortunately, the laws of California prohibit insurance companies from:

  • Canceling your insurance companies mid-way
  • Increasing your premiums before the policy period ends

These prohibitions offer you enough time to shop around for better and cheaper insurance policies that are friendly to people with a DUI record. However, if you still want to continue with your current plan, you can get the quotes to see how much you will be paying.

The reason insurance companies increase the premiums after a DUI is to secure themselves if you cause an accident.

In some cases, however, the insurance company will decline to renew your insurance policy. Non-renewal happens if the company faces a lawsuit or spends much to settle a claim due to an accident you caused.

The extent to which the insurance company raises the premiums will depend on several factors other than a DUI conviction. These factors include:

  • The circumstances of your offense (you are likely to pay higher rates for a DUI with aggravating circumstances)
  • The company’s tolerance for risk
  • Your age (young drivers are likely to pay more in auto insurance premiums as they are fewer experiences)
  • Your gender
  • Your driving history and experience (drivers with a positive driving history and better experience will have a slight increase in their premiums compared to inexperienced or poor drivers)
  • Your current residence and how long you have been residing at the same place
  • Homeownership
  • Affiliations to professional organizations

The additional amount you pay for your premiums after a DUI will vary depending on the insurance company. However, you are likely to experience an increase of an average of $2000 on your premiums. This means that you will experience a rise of up to 30% if you had a good driver's discount.

Finding Auto Insurance Coverage After a DUI

It is almost inevitable that your insurance premiums will go up after a DUI. This increase can affect your finances significantly, considering you have other obligations related to the conviction.

While such a change is worrying, the situation is not hopeless. You can shop around for a DUI-friendly insurance company that has considerably lower rates.

Some tips for finding cheaper auto insurance after a DUI include:

  • Start your search immediately after a DUI, which allows you sufficient time to compare rates across various providers. You also experience less pressure to find an affordable company when you have more time on your hands.
  • Get quotes from local insurance companies, as they are considerably cheaper; local insurance companies tailor their products to the needs of the local communities. They are also trustworthy due to the networks they form with the local community.
  • Identify the coverage features that are necessary for you before you sign a policy. Evaluate the features you really need and eliminate those that are unnecessary. Through such an evaluation, you will pay less in premiums.
  • Choose an annual plan over a monthly plan (an annual plan is less expensive)
  • Find an insurance company through independent insurance agents. This way, you will have access to applicable discounts. Ask the agent any questions you feel are important to you. You should also learn about the terms of the policies and seek clarification from the agent.
  • Get an older car, which is both efficient and cheaper to insure. You will pay more in premiums for a new car, even without a DUI.
  • Keep evaluating your policy coverage, and your current needs to avoid spending on unnecessary features. For example, if you primarily use public transport, you can look for a per-usage insurance policy, which is relatively cheaper. By using your car less, you are reducing the risk of being involved in a car accident, and thus, the insurance company has less risk for insuring you.
  • Apply for multiple driver discounts or get multiple policies with the same insurance. Most insurance companies offer discounts to clients who have multiple policies with the same company.
  • Install safety features such as anti-lock brakes and anti-theft Installing these devices reduces the likelihood that you will make a claim hence lowers your risk as a driver. Antitheft devices significantly reduce the cost of your premiums, as your car is less likely to be stolen. Other technology such as tracking devices will help you locate your car hence decreasing the risk that the insurance company has to refund you for a new car. Installing these features in cars that are cheaper to insure significantly reduces the premiums you have to pay.
  • Develop good driving habits: a DUI is one indication that you could be a high-risk driver. However, if you can develop good driving habits, the insurance company will progressively decrease your insurance premiums.
  • Reduce the number of cars you own to get lower rates since insurance companies determine the premiums you have to pay based on the vehicles you have.

A DUI on your record does not damn you to paying expensive premiums for the next decade. You can still find insurance companies that can provide auto insurance to people with a DUI on their record. It takes time to find the best and affordable insurance. Therefore, start your search early and consult an independent insurance agent.

Working with an Independent Agent

As mentioned earlier, working with an independent agent will help you secure cheaper insurance after a DUI. Independent insurance agents work with different insurance companies.

The first major benefit of working with them is that they can compare rates from various insurers at once. If the independent agent works with local, regional, and nationwide insurance companies, this means you can get competitive rates and make an informed and affordable choice.

Another benefit arises for those who are already working with independent agents; they can leverage their relationship to get help with finding the most appropriate and affordable DUI insurance.

SR-22 Certificate

As mentioned earlier, most insurance companies will discover a DUI when you request an SR-22 certificate. An SR-22 certificate provides proof of financial responsibility after a DUI. California requires drivers to have at least a minimum auto liability coverage if they own a car. Auto liability insurance covers damages that may occur concerning the operation of your vehicle.

One of the consequences of a DUI is a license revocation or suspension. The DMV requires that you present this corticated if you wish to reinstate your license or drive with an ignition interlock device.

To get the certificate, you must have an insurance policy that meets the minimum 15/30/5 auto liability requirements in California. This means that you have coverage worth up to:

  • $15,000 for injury or death of one person
  • $30,000 for the injuries or death of every person in the accident
  • $5,000 for property damage

You will have to maintain an SR-22 for three years and for every car that you own or routinely drive. Non-drivers or those who do not intend to drive can obtain a non-owners’ SR-22 policy. The policy covers you if you drive another person’s car. 

Requesting an SR-22 certificate for a DUI can result in two scenarios:

  • The insurance company declines your request and cancels your policy
  • The insurance company issues you the certificate and raises your insurance premiums

If the insurance company cancels your policy, you have 45 days to find a new insurance company. Failure to do so will result in the suspension of your vehicle registration.

However, if your insurance company does not cancel your policy, it will fill the SR-22 form and keep the DMV updated on your insurance policy. It will provide the DMV with information such as renewals, cancellations, and missed payments.

You do not have to refile SR-22 every year unless:

  • The insurance company drops you
  • You cancel your insurance policy

You must also make regular payments to prevent the suspension of your license. Always consult your defense attorney for guidance on issues relating to DUI and insurance. Your attorney could also help you evaluate the benefits of requesting an SR-22 from your current provider or get a stand-alone certificate.

For this, you will avoid telling your insurance company about your DUI. However, you will have to buy another policy that meets the minimum auto liability coverage for California.

California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP)

The California state legislature established the California automobile assigned risk plan in 1974. The plan aims to provide liability insurance to drivers who are entitled to auto insurance but cannot secure such insurance through the usual means.

Normally, the driver approaches an insurance company or an agent to secure liability insurance for his or her vehicle. However, it becomes harder to get a policy when you are a high-risk driver.

A DUI increases the risk that you might not be able to access insurance under normal methods. This is especially true if you are a repeat DUI offender and have a bad driving history. The CAARP is a last resort to such drivers.

The CAARP is not an insurance company; instead, it links drivers with automobile insurance companies, which are required by law to participate in the program.

When you send your application to the CAARP, the organization will link you up with an insurance agent. The insurance agent will then find an insurance company that can cover you.

The program is available for high-risk and low-income drivers. It provides the liability coverage for a maximum of three years, which can be extended through filing another application.

The most common high-risk low-income drivers include:

  • Drivers with less than three years’ experience in driving
  • Drivers under 25 years
  • Drivers with multiple speeding violations on their record

In addition to meeting the description profile of a high-risk driver, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a valid California driver’s license
  • Be at least 19 years
  • Own a car worth $25,000 or less

How to Avoid the Negative Effects of a DUI on Insurance

A DUI arrest or conviction can spiral into an uncontrollable financial guzzler. A DUI raises several financial responsibilities, including court fines, bail, administrative fees, DUI school fees, IID installation and maintenance fees, victim restitution, and higher insurance rates.

The best way to avoid these consequences is by not driving after drinking alcohol or using drugs. However, since you made a mistake already, you can still put up some saving measures such as:

  • Hire a DUI attorney immediately: one way you can avoid the negative effects of a DUI is by hiring a skilled DUI attorney. Find an attorney who is proven in fighting DUI charges both with the DMV and with the court. If the DMV or the court suspends your license, then you can expect your insurance rates to go up. However, if your attorney can present evidence to have your case dismissed, you will escape the risk of high insurance premiums. Even if you are convicted, your attorney will help you find reliable insurance agents that can offer affordable insurance coverage.
  • Take defensive driving classes: these classes are ideal for getting a car insurance discount. However, you must first confirm that your insurance company offers the discount or find one that does.
  • Keep track of your driving record and notify your insurer once ten years elapse. The ten-year period is the time a DUI offense stays on your DMV record. The DMV will automatically delete the record after ten years. However, you can request copies of your criminal and DMV records and present them to your insurance company as you might be eligible for lower rates. You can also shop for a cheaper insurance company and get a new policy.

Find a DUI Defense Attorney Near Me

A DUI has more consequences than criminal penalties and fines. A DUI increases the likelihood that you will pay more in insurance premiums. You will also lose your good driver status when the insurance company discovers your DUI.

A DUI arrest, losing the DMV hearing and a conviction, all affect your driving record. The DMV will keep a record of the violation of its records for the next ten years. This means that even an expunged DUI conviction will not save your insurance premiums.

The Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm works closely with clients arrested for a DUI. We take steps to safeguard both your criminal and driving records. The first steps we take is by requesting the DMV hearing then preparing solid defenses to have your charges reduced or dismissed.

We also work with you as you find the best and affordable insurance providers that insure high-risk drivers. If you have any questions regarding DUI and Insurance in California, contact us at 714-740-7866.