Expect your car insurance rates to go up after getting caught drinking and driving. But don’t let embarrassment stop you from shopping around for the best car insurance after a DUI.
Even if the DUI was the result of one dumb mistake that will never happen again, you’re going to be marked as a high-risk driver in the eyes of insurers for at least a few years.
That’s not a moral judgment, but rather a conclusion based on statistics. Alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes were six times more likely to have a prior DUI conviction than drivers with no alcohol in their blood, according to an analysis of 2013 data by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
As a result of the perceived risk you now present, your current car insurance company might drop you at renewal time. At the very least your insurer will increase your rates when you renew the policy. And the rates offered by other companies will be higher after the DUI than they would have been if you still had a clean record.
Nonetheless, insurers vary greatly in how they price policies, so it’s best to shop around.
Tickets? You might be able to get a better deal by comparing auto insurance quotes through NerdWallet’s comparison tool.
Best car insurance after a DUI
Because car insurance rates vary widely by company and location, the only way to find the cheapest rate is to get quotes from several companies.
NerdWallet compared car insurance rates in three states for men and women drivers with one DUI conviction. In each of those states, we averaged rates from 10 ZIP codes for the 10 biggest insurers doing business there.
Average quotes varied dramatically. In New York, for instance, the average annual rate among major carriers ranged from $1,206 to $3,882. That’s a difference of $2,676. The rates below are for policies with relatively low liability limits and no collision and comprehensive coverage. The cost of insurance will be higher if you buy better coverage than the bare minimum.
Cheapest car insurance in California after a DUI
Cheapest insurance in Florida after a DUI
Cheapest insurance in New York after a DUI
Specialty insurance companies for risky drivers. Methodology: We compared rates among the 10 biggest insurers in California, Florida and New York for 30-year-old men and women with one DUI conviction insuring a 2012 Toyota Camry. We ran rates in 10 ZIP codes in each of the states for a policy that includes liability coverage of $25,000 for injuries per person, $50,000 for injuries per accident, and $20,000 for property damage, plus $50,000 in PIP and uninsured motorist coverage. Your rates will be different.
Many big-name insurance companies have special subsidiaries that serve high-risk drivers, and some smaller companies cater especially to this market, known as “nonstandard” in the insurance world. It’s a good idea to get rates from these specialty carriers as well as from the big guys.
To determine which company is best for high-risk drivers, NerdWallet looked at financial strength ratings for 14 of these companies as well as the ratio of upheld complaints to the number of customers, using data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Those with the lowest ratio of upheld complaints and the best financial strength ratings ranked highest:
- No. 1: Geico Casualty, a subsidiary for high-risk drivers of insurance giant Geico.
- No. 2: Dairyland Auto, a part of the Sentry Insurance Group.
- No. 3: Titan Insurance, a subsidiary of Nationwide Insurance for high-risk drivers.
(Dairyland and Titan were not included in our rate comparison because they are too small to be among the top 10 carriers in each of the states we surveyed.)
You can also check NerdWallet’s listing of the best car insurance companies for high-risk drivers.
Car insurance plus an SR-22
Many states require drivers with a DUI conviction to have a special form filed on their behalf by an insurer with the Department of Motor Vehicles. In most states the form is called an SR-22. Florida and Virginia sometimes require a form called an FR-44 for drivers who are ordered by the court to purchase more than the state-mandated minimum of liability insurance.
The form is a certificate of financial responsibility that proves you have purchased at least the minimum amount of auto insurance required by your state.
Not all insurers will file this form for their customers, so if you are required to have an SR-22 or FR-44 form, you’ll need to ask the insurance company whether it provides this service. You’ll know if you need an SR-22 or FR-44 form — the court will make that clear.
You’ll have to endure higher car insurance rates after a DUI for at least a few years. States vary in how long they require DUI offenses to stay on your driving record. In California, for instance, a DUI stays on your record for 10 years. During that time you will not be able to earn a good driver discount.
A DUI is a low point, but the financial stigma doesn’t last forever. By shopping around for the most affordable coverage, you’re taking the first steps upward. You can get started with NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool.
This post was updated Nov. 17, 2015.