With any DUI comes a myriad of challenges and expenses. Add car insurance to the equation and it’s no wonder so many people decide to consult a DUI attorney for legal counsel. Whether you’ve just been arrested for DUI or you’ve already gone to trial, it’s important to know how the conviction will affect your insurance. Gather your current policy paperwork and educate yourself on the top five facts about obtaining insurance after a DUI.
- Yes, the SR-22 is mandatory
Otherwise known as a “Certificate of Financial Responsibility,” an SR-22 is like a tracking system for your insurance policy. It must remain on file with the DMV for three years. If your policy is cancelled or non-renewed for any reason, the DMV will be notified and you will face a license suspension. There is usually a minimal fee associated with SR-22s (separate from the DUI conviction).
- Chargeability periods may vary
There’s no way around it—you’re going to be surcharged for your DUI. Whether you tell your insurance company upfront or wait until it surfaces on the policy renewal is your prerogative. Resist the urge to ask your agent specifics about the rate increase as they don’t have real-time access to motor vehicle reports. Keep in mind each accident and ticket related to the DUI is a separate offense and may have a different chargeability period (i.e. a ticket may “fall off” your record earlier than an accident).
- Rate shopping is crucial
Even if you go into the conversation with the expectation of a rate increase, you might be shocked by what you hear. Shop around with competitors and ask for an “apples-to-apples” comparison with the same coverage limits and deductibles. Do not withhold your DUI offense with the assumption they will find it anyway (as mentioned in #2). They will. However, your motor vehicle report will not be pulled until you decide to purchase the policy. Don’t waste time—disclose all driving history during the quote. Some experience DUI attorneys can refer you to a very affordable insurance provider and save you $1,500 or more per year for three years
- Your liability limits matter
You’ll be tempted to lower liability limits to the minimum amount required by law, but consider what that means before taking action. First, if you need an SR-22, the state may require you to carry higher limits. Second, what if you get into an accident? Although bodily injury and property damage coverage pays out to the other party if you’re at fault, you don’t want to be underinsured. If you own a home, for example, you want high enough limits to protect that asset in the event of a lawsuit. Don’t exacerbate your DUI problems by exposing yourself to unnecessary risk.
- Not all DUIs are created equal
If you hit another car and injured someone, insurance costs are going to be higher than they would be in the absence of a third party. If you currently have the California “Good Driver Discount” which offers substantial savings, your rates are going to be higher since you’ll lose it and have to pay for the related accidents and convictions. Your policy is unique—it’s impossible to compare premiums with someone else who has a DUI.
Albeit expensive in nearly all aspects, one DUI is usually not grounds for being uninsurable. There are dozens of other factors that determine your premium, so take the time to really examine the policy for outdated information, deductible options, and multi-policy discounts. If there is any doubt about the mandatory legal requirements of your policy, consult the DMV or your DUI attorney.
If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Los Angeles, contact DUI attorney Jon Artz today to discuss your case. 310-820-1315 .