Getting a DUI (driving under the influence) conviction can significantly smash your auto insurance rates. A DUI stays on your driving record for several years and is considered a major violation by insurance companies. This often leads to increased premiums that can be 100% higher or more compared to drivers with clean records.
While a DUI makes finding affordable auto insurance more challenging, it’s not impossible. Here are some tips to find the best car insurance after getting a DUI:
Shop Around Extensively
The first step is to shop around and get quotes from as many insurers as possible. Rates can vary dramatically between insurance companies behind a DUI. Some insurers may hike rates significantly, while others may still offer reasonable pricing.
Cast a wide net and get quotes from both large national insurers and smaller regional companies. Be sure to compare the same coverage levels when getting quotes. Also, find out what discounts may be available to help offset the DUI surcharge.
Online quote comparison sites like TheZebra.com can provide rate estimates from multiple insurers at once. This allows you to quickly see the range of rates available post-DUI.
Review New Driver Insurance Programs
Many insurers have new driver insurance programs that impose surcharges for the first 3-5 years after getting a license. The surcharges are reduced each year you maintain a clean driving record.
After a DUI, inquire whether you may still be eligible for the new driver program versus a standard policy. The program pricing may be better than premium hikes on a standard policy from the DUI.
Selecting higher deductibles of $500, $1,000 or $2,000 can lead to significant savings on premiums. The tradeoff is you pay more out-of-pocket if you have a claim. Make sure you can afford the higher deductible amount in the event of an accident.
Drop Comprehensive and Collision Coverage
Dropping comprehensive and collision coverage eliminates these expensive policy add-ons. It leaves liability coverage in place to cover damage/injuries to others if you cause an accident.
This may be an option if your vehicle is older or you can self-insure repairs/replacement. But beware, you won’t be covered for damage to your own vehicle.
Enroll in Defensive Driving
Many states allow attending defensive driving classes to earn a small premium discount and remove points from your license. This can potentially help offset the DUI’s impact on insurance rates.
Make sure to check with your state DMV and insurance company to see if they accept defensive driving for point/surcharge reductions after a DUI offense.
Ask About Policy Forgiveness
Some insurers offer one-time “policy forgiveness” to override rate hikes even after a major violation like a DUI. This usually applies to long-time customers with a consistently clean driving history prior to the violation.
It doesn’t hurt to appeal to your insurer and ask if they are willing to provide any policy forgiveness given your history as a customer. They may be ready to work with you.
Seek Out an Insurance Broker
An independent insurance broker can be helpful finding insurers willing to take on higher risk drivers. They have access to many companies and know the underwriting guidelines better than agents.
A good broker will advocate for you with prospective insurers and help you find the best fit insurance company after a DUI. They can access insurers you may not be able to directly.
Explore Alternative Insurance Options
You may want to check pricing on non-standard auto insurers that specialize in higher risk drivers. Companies like The General, National General, and Direct Auto may offer coverage after a DUI violation.
While rates are generally higher with these insurers, they can still provide insurance options when others won’t. Just be sure to compare pricing with standard insurers as well.
Maintain Excellent Credit
Having good to excellent credit can help reduce auto insurance rates even after a DUI. Insurers view drivers with high credit scores as lower risk and offer lower pricing.
Check your credit reports regularly and work on improving your score through sound financial management. This can help counterbalance the DUI to potentially find lower premiums.
Drive an Older Vehicle
Auto insurance rates are based partly on the vehicle make, model and year. Older, less valuable vehicles can be considerably cheaper to insure than newer cars.
If possible, drive an older vehicle for awhile after a DUI to qualify for lower liability coverage premiums. You can also sometimes drop comprehensive/collision on an older car to further reduce costs.
Increase Available Discounts
Take advantage of any other discounts you qualify for to help offset the DUI surcharge. For example, maintaining a good student status, completing a driver training course, insuring multiple vehicles/policies with one company can lead to discounts.
Bundle home and auto policies together for possible multi-policy discounts. Usage-based insurance where you pay per mile driven may also be an option to lower rates after a DUI.
Improve Overall Driving Habits
The single best thing you can do after a DUI is to improve your overall driving habits and maintain a clean record. Being a safe, accident and violation-free driver for 3-5 years can significantly reduce the DUI’s impact on your premiums.
Good drivers tend to pay less for insurance over time. Doing everything possible to keep your record clean demonstrates you’ve learned from your mistake and are now an even more diligent driver. Make safety and responsible driving your top priority at all times.
Choose a Basic Vehicle
Insurers classify vehicles for risk based on vehicle size, horsepower and safety ratings. Sports cars and high-performance vehicles typically have much higher insurance rates.
Choosing a basic sedan or SUV without excessive horsepower can potentially qualify you for lower premiums after a DUI. Going with a vehicle that insurers categorize as low-risk helps reduce overall pricing.
Increase Your Liability Limits
Increasing liability limits beyond your state minimum required coverage shows insurers you take liability risks seriously. Higher liability limits qualify you for discounts with some insurers after a DUI violation.
Make sure to get quotes at different liability levels to verify if increasing limits will lower your overall premium. Don’t just assume higher is better without confirming actual pricing differences.
Move to a New Location
Insurance rates can vary significantly by location and even zip code. If feasible, consider moving to a new residence in an area with lower auto insurance rates.
Rural zip codes tend to have lower premiums than urban areas. But make sure to factor in total cost of living expenses before relocating solely for lower insurance pricing.
Let Time Pass
As time passes from your DUI offense, the weight it carries with insurers gradually decreases. Most states prevent insurers from refusing coverage due to a DUI after 3-7 years. Rates may remain a little high, but become more manageable over time.
Shopping around for better pricing on auto insurance each year as the DUI ages can lead to lower premiums. Rate decreases aren’t guaranteed, but become more likely as your record improves over the years.
Compare Rates Annually
Make sure to compare rates from other insurance companies at least annually after your DUI. As you maintain clean driving, earn discounts and your violation ages, significant savings could be found with a policy switch.
Don’t assume loyalty to one insurer is worthwhile. The competitive marketplace means better deals are always possible from rival insurers.
Don’t Make Claims
Avoid filing small, incremental claims with your insurance after a DUI. Too many claims can cause insurers to perceive you as high risk. Instead, pay for minor repairs out of pocket if possible.
Only file claims when absolutely necessary for major losses. Otherwise, making frequent claims gives insurers another reason to raise your rates. Keep claims to a minimum to help stabilize rates.
A DUI conviction significantly raises auto insurance costs, but finding affordable coverage is still possible. Shop extensively, maintain excellent driving habits, utilize available discounts and let time pass to reduce the DUI’s rate impact. Compare options annually to ensure you have the best available pricing after a DUI. With patience and persistence, cheaper insurance can be found.