How Does a DUI Affect Your Auto Insurance Rates?

How Does a DUI Affect Your Auto Insurance Rates?

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Although drinking and driving is dangerous for everyone on the road, many drivers continue to partake. Those fortunate enough to survive the ordeal with only a DUI conviction may be able to get car insurance again — but at a much higher rate.

Insurance companies typically increase premiums following DUI convictions because the driver poses a greater risk. In this article, we explore how a DUI can affect your quotes for auto insurance.

How much can a DUI raise your car insurance rates?

To find out how much insurance rates increase after a drunken-driving conviction, we took a look at sample quotes for a driver living in New York City, Atlanta, and Roselle, Illinois, before and after a DUI. Our sample driver is a 30-year-old single man who drives a 2014 Toyota Corolla.

Auto insurance premiums in New York City are already expensive, but they can increase by 36% on average with a single DUI conviction.

NYC DUI Insurance Rates

Rates started lower in Roselle, a small Chicago suburb, but they rose by a similar percentage — 44% — for our driver. The price increase varied significantly by insurer in both cities. In Illinois, State Farm's auto insurance rates increased just 28% after a DUI, while Nationwide's rates increased by 86%.

Roselle, Illinois DUI Insurance Rates

Atlanta, which is not included in the graph, also showed a consistent trend. Rates increased by 31%, meaning where you live could largely influence how much a DUI affects your rates.

Other factors that influence your auto insurance after a DUI

While your gender and where you live can heavily influence your car insurance rates, there's more at play. We looked at how GEICO calculates car insurance rates in Utah as a benchmark.

Age: Car insurance companies generally see younger drivers as riskier to insure, so age plays a big role in how much your premium increases following a conviction. Insurance for an 18-year-old who has been convicted of driving under the influence within the past 12 months would be 5% less affordable than coverage for a 30-year-old with the same history. In fact, for anyone under the age of 19, a single DUI within a year will be at least 5% costlier than for anyone older.

Insurance rates increase the most for young drivers following a DUI conviction.

Time: Rates are also influenced by the amount of time that's passed from your most recent DUI conviction. Insurance companies generally focus on the past three to five years to judge your driving record and calculate your DUI insurance quote. For DUI violations, GEICO requires a minimum 35 months' worth of clean driving before you qualify for normal cheaper rates following a DUI. And for someone who had a DUI four years ago, their underinsured motorist premium would cost 18% less than someone who had a DUI in the past 12 months.

Number of DUIs: Finally, the most important factor is the number of DUIs a driver has had in the past three years. A 30-year-old with four DUIs can expect bodily injury coverage premiums to be 58% more expensive than someone with one DUI. According to GEICO, an 18-year-old in Utah with four or more DUIs within the past year could be paying rates that are 116% higher than an 18-year old with a clean driving record.

Companies: Every insurance carrier has a different formula for setting rates, so we recommend comparing at least three quotes to help ensure you get the cheapest car insurance rates after a DUI. Our quote samples showed that different insurance companies count DUIs more heavily than others, as seen in the table below.

CompanyWithout DUIWith DUIPercentage difference
State Farm$1,616$1,96031.3%
Allstate$2,388$3,19833.9%
Nationwide$3,072$4,51647.0%

In our survey, State Farm didn't increase car insurance rates as much as Allstate and Nationwide did following a DUI conviction. But rate increases are partly based on your driving history, so the cheapest insurer for you after a DUI may not be the same for every driver.

How do insurance companies find out about a DUI?

Your insurance company might find out about your DUI conviction when it's time to renew your policy. Insurers typically check your driving record at this time, and the record will show recent DUI convictions. If you've kept the DUI from your insurer, it may drop your policy entirely.

The best thing you can do is be honest with your insurance company because you may need to ask them to file an SR-22 or FR-44 form on your behalf. These forms prove you have the state's minimum liability car insurance, which is required if you want to keep or reinstate your driving privileges.

In 43 states, you're required to get an SR-22 or FR-44 form to maintain car insurance following major traffic incidents.

When you ask your insurer to file the SR-22 or FR-44 form, you will need to pay a fee ranging from $17 to $45. You may need to keep the form on file for three to five years, depending on your state. Some insurance companies won't file these for you — and if you have a long record of traffic violations, your insurer may terminate your policy altogether.

Final thoughts

A DUI is an expensive problem to address. Depending on your age, the number of incidents on your record and time that's passed, your car insurance premiums may increase dramatically.

Comparing rates can get you cheaper car insurance, but in the end, driving responsibly is the only way to get your rates back to normal. The best thing you can do is be honest with your insurance company, drive safely and regularly compare quotes for car insurance.

Mark is a Senior Research Analyst for ValuePenguin focusing on the insurance industry, primarily auto insurance. He previously worked in financial risk management at State Street Corporation.

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