A DUI can disrupt a lot of things in life. It could mean losing your license, paying fines, and enrolling yourself in an alcohol treatment plan. In addition to this, it can affect your California car insurance. So how does a DUI in California change your relationship with your car insurance company? Here are a few things to consider.
You Don’t Necessarily Have to Report a DUI to Your Insurance Provider
There is no legal requirement for you to let your insurance company know if you have been pulled over for a DUI. There are several reasons for this. You might not be found guilty, for one. In addition, you might come to an out of court settlement that reduces your DUI to another offense. You might win your DMV DUI hearing.
It is possible that your insurance company will never discover that you had a DUI. While this is unlikely, there is nothing illegal about it. You don’t have to notify your insurance company about a DUI unless you are required to obtain SR 22 coverage.
The Purpose of an SR 22
A California SR 22 is a document that proves you meet the California state requirements for liability coverage. It demonstrates that you are legal to drive as long as you have a valid driver’s license. In order to qualify for an SR 22, your insurance must meet the state minimums. This means that your insurance:
– Will pay as much as fifteen thousand dollars on any person that you kill in an accident.
– Will pay a total of thirty thousand dollars for any injuries or deaths that you inflict.
– Will pay five thousand dollars for any property damage that you cause.
If you are arrested for a DUI, even if you haven’t yet been convicted, the DMV will suspend or revoke your license. When it does so, you will be required to provide an SR 22 form to the DMV in order to get your license reinstated. The only way to obtain an SR 22 form is to get one from your insurance provider.
The California DMV may ask for an SR 22 form for any of the following reasons:
– Your license is suspended in relation to a DUI
– You are declared a negligent driver
– You have an accident when you do not have insurance
Unfortunately, when you ask for an SR 22 form, you will be asked why you are requesting one. All of the above reasons would label you as a high risk driver and ensure that you are only eligible for high risk auto insurance which will quite possibly dramatically increase your premiums.
How and When Your Insurance Company Will Find Out
There are two ways that a California car insurance provider will find out about your DUI. The first is that you need to request an SR 22 form from them.
Your DUI could also get discovered when your DMV record gets checked. This will only occur if your policy is being renewed or if you make a change to your policy. Any DUI’s that have occurred in the past ten years will show when your insurance company runs a record check.
In addition to this, if you were to fail to appear in court for a DUI, this would also show up on your record. Like a DUI, a failure to appear stays on record for ten years. If the DUI were somehow missed, this would also alert them to the fact that you had a DUI.
Your Premiums Will Not Change Midterm
The good news is that according to the California Department of Insurance the current California insurance laws on the books makes it impossible for an auto insurance company to make any changes to your policy in the middle of the term. Thankfully, this means that your rates will not go up, nor will your insurance be canceled, until it is time for you to renew your insurance.
An auto insurance company in California can not make any changes to your premiums unless you are renewing your policy or first applying.
It is also worth noting that if you have pending charges, these will not affect your policy until you are found guilty. Some insurance companies will deny you coverage if you apply for them, but they can not make any changes to your policy until after you have been convicted.
Your Premiums Are Not Guaranteed to Go Up But Likely Will
It is very likely that your insurance company will raise your premiums if you are convicted of a DUI, but it is possible that they will not. Insurance companies have their own individual formulas for deciding how to charge you based on factors that they consider to be high risk.
How Much Will Your Premiums Go Up?
This is different for every company. You certainly won’t qualify for a “good driver” discount for another ten years. If you had this discount, it means your premiums will increase at least twenty percent. In addition, high risk drivers will pay between $300 and $800 a year for the three years that they are in SR 22 status. The cost will still vary greatly between insurance companies, so it is worth contacting your agent before your policy needs to be renewed.
You Can Always Find Somebody to Insure You
California requires everybody to have insurance, so there is always a company that will provide you with coverage. If you can’t find coverage on your own, the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan can connect you with a provider. Even though it may be more difficult to find insurance after a DUI, it is advisable to consider all of your options in order to find out what is most cost effective.
If a DUI is Reduced to a Lesser Conviction, Will the Premiums Go Up as High?
Reduced sentences will almost always affect your premiums just as harshly as a DUI. It is certainly important to fight for a reduced sentence for legal reasons, but financially they are very similar. In either case it adds two points to your driving record, which causes insurance companies to view you as being a high risk driver.
DUIs are not completely indistinguishable from their reduced cousins, however. A “wet reckless,” “dry reckless,” or “exhibition of speed” differ from a DUI in that they will only stay on your record for seven years. This means you have three more years that you can qualify for a “good driver” discount.
You don’t have to notify your insurance provider about your DUI except when getting an SR 22 to reinstate your license. Your policy can’t be changed midterm and there is no specific formula for how much it will effect your insurance. Any effects will be erased after ten years. You can always find somebody to insure you.