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How soon will my insurer find out about a DUI?


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Question: How soon after I get a DUI will my car insurance company find out? I'm not looking forward to having my rates go up.

Answer: Typically, your auto insurance provider will find out about a driving under the influence (DUI) citation only after you’ve been convicted and the offense has been placed on your motor vehicle record (MVR).  If it takes a while for your DUI to get on your record, or your insurer doesn’t check your MVR at every renewal (some only check once a year or every other year), then you may get away without a rate increase for a bit.

If, however, you were in an accident at the same time you were cited for the DUI, then your car insurance company will find out even sooner about the offense because claims will likely be filed against your policy (liability coverages for damages to others and collision coverage for your car’s damages).    

Your car insurance company would investigate the claims and quickly be alerted to the fact that when you crashed the police suspected you of being intoxicated.

Your DUI may then be considered when fault is determined for the car accident.  Be aware that if you have a drunken driving, DUI, or alcohol exclusion as part of your auto insurance policy, then it may allow for certain types of claims to be denied -- such as medical ones for any injuries you sustained in the incident.

Even if your auto insurance company has found out about your DUI before pulling your MVR at your renewal period, it’s unlikely it will affect you rates just yet.  Midterm policy rate changes aren’t allowed in most states.  A few states do allow midterm cancellations, though, for suspended licenses – keep this in mind if your license is suspended due to the DUI.

When the DUI is discovered by your car insurance, you should indeed expect your rates to rise. 

Rating systems vary greatly from one insurance company to the next. After a DUI premiums can go up anywhere from 30 percent to 300 percent.  If you’ve had your license suspended and/or need a SR-22 certificate of financial responsibility, then affordable auto insurance can be harder to find.

A DUI can cost over $10,000 when you take into account fines by the state, bail, lawyer’s fees, auto insurance rate hikes (that last three to five years typically), the cost of an ignition interlock if required, reinstatement fees and lost wages.

Even after a DUI, the best way to save is to shop around.  You may have lost a safe driver discount with your current insurer but be able to obtain a lower base rates and be eligible for other discounts with a different auto insurance carrier.  By comparison shopping with several companies at once, you will see who will offer you the cheapest rates for the same coverage.

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1 Responses to "How soon will my insurer find out about a DUI?"
  1. James Maxwell

    Amica Mutual took three full calendar years to find out about my DUI. When they did, though, they promptly refused to renew my policy and said they would never insure me again for life. I'm happily paying much less for better coverage with USAA now.

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