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One of the most common questions asked by those who are dealing with a potential DUI is what effect a DMV license suspension or DUI conviction will have on their insurance rates. Insurance providers treat DUI convictions and suspensions very seriously and will often use this as a basis for increasing a customer’s insurance rates. However, it is important to remember that the market for car insurance is very competitive and a DUI is just one factor that insurers look at when giving a quote for coverage.
Typically, it will take some time for an insurance company to learn that one of its customers has been convicted of DUI or has had his or her driving privileges suspended as the result of a DUI incident. An insurer may learn of a recent DUI incident when the policyholder is renewing his or her policy and a driving record search is conducted. The company may also be alerted when the policyholder requests SR22 coverage, which is required in order to have one’s license reinstated following a DUI-related suspension.
Insurance providers classify those who have had DUI convictions or suspensions as “high risk” drivers and any “good driver” discount that had previously applied would be lost. This can lead to policy rates rising considerably. It is not only drivers who are convicted of DUI offenses who face potential insurance rate increases. Even drivers who are ultimately convicted of reduced DUI charges such as wet reckless, dry reckless or exhibition of speed should expect to see their insurance rates go up following conviction. This is because these convictions generally add two points to one’s driving record, which insurance companies consider when pricing policies.
In California all drivers are required to carry automobile insurance. While many drivers are concerned that they will be unable to find insurance coverage after being convicted of DUI, there are a number of options that may be available to them to ensure that they are able to maintain insurance in the amounts required by law. In addition, there are numerous insurance providers who compete with each other for customers. Someone looking for an insurance policy following a DUI may be able to shop around and find a company that will offer them coverage at a reasonable price.
It is also important to remember that a DUI conviction is just one of many factors that insurance providers consider when pricing a policy. Factors such as a driver’s age, marital status, gender, driving history, and residence will all affect policy rates.
A person is not required to immediately report a DUI arrest to their current insurer. In fact, a driver may want to wait and see what happens with their court case or with the DMV hearing before alerting their insurer. If the criminal charges are dropped and if the driver’s license suspension is set aside, there would be no action to report and thus a driver should not expect to see any increase in his or her insurance rates.