You may still be able to get car insurance with a suspended license, but it will be expensive and you’ll have to meet certain conditions.
If you don’t currently have a policy and your license is suspended, you can still apply for coverage. But you will have to get a policy from a car insurance company that accepts high-risk drivers – many will not. You will also need to show that your license suspension is for a short period of time, say, 30 days compared to a year. Once your driving privileges are restored, you will have to show proof of reinstatement to your insurer.
If you have a long-term suspension, you have the option of finding a car insurance company that will allow you to buy a policy with another person named as the primary driver. You would not be listed on the policy until you get your license back.
How long does a suspended license stay on your record?
The laws in your state and the reason for your suspension will dictate how long the suspension will show up on your driving record. For example, in New York, a suspension remains on a driver record for four years from the date the suspension was ended. The DMV uses the year when the suspension ended, not the year in which it began.
What happens if you already have insurance when your license is suspended?
If you are in the middle of your policy term, and your policy does not contain an exclusionary clause for driver suspensions, you likely will remain covered until the end of your term.
“Insurance companies usually don’t review your driving record in the middle of your policy term,” says Penny Gusner, consumer analyst for CarInsurance.com. “And there are only a few states that allow midterm cancellations due to a suspended license.”
However, you should still contact your insurer and read your policy’s fine-print. Increasingly, insurers are adding conditions to policies to address the problem of suspended drivers getting behind the wheel.
Typically, it will say that if you don’t report within 60 days that a driver in your household has had his or her license suspended, then that person is not covered by your policy.
Also bear in mind that car insurance companies usually check your driving record upon renewal of your policy, and may simply decide you are now a high-risk driver and refuse to renew your policy when the term is up. You should be notified if that’s the case. Insurance companies are required to send you a notice informing you that your coverage is to be suspended at some future date, typically at least 30 days out.
SR-22 and suspended licenses
When you do get your license reinstated, you may have to file an SR-22, which is a form that serves as an insurance company’s guarantee to your state that you have the required insurance coverage in place. You will pay much higher car insurance rates because of the offense that triggered the suspension and the SR-22 filing.
What happens to my car while my license is suspended?
If your license will be reinstated before your next policy renewal, you may be able to just keep your car parked until you get your license reinstated.
A long-term suspension typically poses more problems. Insurance companies calculate rates, in part, based on the record of a licensed driver. If you don’t have a license -- or at least an imminent reinstatement – you will likely be refused coverage.
Liability car insurance is required for registered cars (except for in New Hampshire) and if you are still making payments on the car, your lender will require that you keep collision and comprehensive coverage on it as well.
One option, if you are still making car payments, is to find an insurance company that will allow you to designate another driver as the primary operator and exclude yourself from coverage. Not every company will do this, Gusner says, but many will.
If you own your car outright and you lack insurance, you should park the car and turn in your license plates.