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What 20 years without a license does to auto rates


Question: My husband lost his license 20 years ago for multiple DUIs, but it will be reinstated soon. He now has nothing on his driving record and has been sober for 19 years. Due to his situation, will my husband be penalized by having to pay higher insurance rates than other drivers?

Answer: Your husband will pay higher auto insurance rates than some other motorists; however, it won’t be due to his multiple convictions for driving under the influence (DUI), but instead his lapse in auto insurance coverage and lack of driving history for the past 20 years. 

The DUIs that your husband had two decades ago shouldn’t affect his current car insurance rates now. As you said, they aren’t on his driving record anymore, and auto insurers normally rate on traffic violations (even major ones) up to seven years at the most. 

This is great news for you and your husband, because one DUI can double your auto insurance rates.

The bad news is that your husband has been uninsured for the past 20 years, so auto insurance companies will look at him as a high-risk driver compared with other motorists that they insure. 

Drivers are typically grouped according to their level of risk. Your husband’s situation will place him in a different driver category than someone that has a spotless driving record for the past 20 years and always maintained car insurance.

It’s a little like starting over for him, though his rates shouldn’t be as high as say a teen driver.  If he is in his 40s or older now, he does have age and maturity that give him a better rate than a driver starting off in his teens or 20s who would also be penalized due to his young age and inexperience. (See “The cheapest age for car insurance”)

Depending upon state laws, your husband may need to file a SR-22 or FR-44 with your state as part of his license reinstatement process.  If this is the case, it may limit who will insure your husband and your household vehicles because not all auto insurance companies file this certificate of financial responsibility. 

What will help your husband get better insurance rates is to get his license reinstated, get insured and to keep his driving record clean of traffic violations, accidents and of course major offenses like a DUI. 

After a few years of continuous coverage and safe driving, his rates should decrease as the insurer puts him into a different driver category and adjusts his auto insurance base rates accordingly.   He should also begin to be eligible for more discounts, such as a safe driver discount.  (See “Your guide to car insurance discounts”).

Right now what can lower your auto insurance rates is a discount because you are a married couple and another if you have multiple cars on the policy.  Your husband can also see if completing a defensive driving course could lower his current rates.  But most importantly, shop around. 

Your family can save by finding the car insurance company that is pricing competitively for your particular combination of rating factors.  Quotes given to even high-risk drivers can range by thousands of dollars.  You won’t find the cheapest auto insurance rates for your household unless you comparison shop and find the right insurer for your situation.  (See “Save $1,102 by just shopping around”)

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