Does Car Insurance Cover Drunk Driving?

If you are caught drunk driving and convicted of a DUI (driving under influence), you may face a number of legal repercussions depending on the circumstances. A DUI on your record will also have an impact on your future auto insurance premiums. If you don’t injure anybody while driving under the influence, you may get off with fines depending on the state and the insurance company that issued your policy. At best, you’ll face an increase in your premiums. In the event, you cause an accident and the other person is seriously injured, the insurance company may deny you coverage or terminate your policy. This guide will focus on all DUI-related charges and how it relates to your auto insurance coverage.

So, does insurance cover drunk driving? Yes, auto insurance covers drunk driving & DUI charges. The auto insurance company pays for the damage you’ve caused while driving under the influence. This is covered in the liability insurance written under your policy. Liability insurance covers you for damages to infrastructure (ex. you had a light pole) and it covers you for medical expenses if you injure a person in an accident. While drunk driving is illegal, insurance companies still have to compensate you for the damage caused. Note that this doesn’t guarantee your insurance company won’t terminate your policy after the claim is settled.

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Possible Scenarios After DUI

With a DUI on your track record, there are many possible scenarios that can unfold. This varies by the circumstances surrounding the charge, the location/state laws, and the insurance company insuring your vehicle. The following are things that will likely happen after the DUI:

  • Higher Premiums. The average insurance rate increase is 100% after a DUI. In some cases, this can increase up to 400%. Note: There are certain insurance companies such as Progressive that guarantee the premiums won’t increase by more than 10% after a DUI conviction. Insurance companies raise premiums after all “at fault” claims, and especially after a DUI conviction.
  • Policy Termination. The insurance policy can terminate your policy as soon as you’re convicted of a DUI. They are obliged to pay you off for the damages caused, but you can expect to be terminated after an at-fault DUI accident. If they renew your policy, it will be at a much higher premium.
  • Short-term Legal Consequences. If you’re charged with a DUI, you’re likely going to pay fines to keep your license and you’ll also have a criminal record. Eventually, a DUI is erased off your record. It is not permanent.
  • Long-term Legal Consequences. If you severely injure someone, you may have to serve time in prison. For involuntary manslaughter, this can carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years. The insurance company won’t be able to assist you in this matter.

Can a DUI Charge Be Revoked?

No, DUI charges will stay on your record for several years. The good news is that depending on the state, a DUI charge will be erased off your record in as little as 7 years. Check your state legislation to find out how many years a DUI will stay on your record. After the DUI is erased, your premium rates will return to normal.

How to Lower Premiums After a DUI?

There are no effective workarounds to lower a premium after you’re charged with a DUI. All insurance companies will deem a driver with a DUI record as high-risk. However, certain insurers are more welcoming towards high-risk drivers. 

Pro Tip: Shop around and check for the best rates. Your current auto insurer might not be the best option after you’re convicted of a DUI. You have to start searching for a new company that will give you better rates despite your high-risk driver status.

What Happens if Policies Are Terminated

Most car insurance companies won’t terminate your policy after a DUI. They will only raise the premiums. However, if the DUI cases are severe enough, the insurer may terminate your policy. This doesn’t mean you’ll have to go without coverage. You can still shop around and find a new policy that will provide coverage similar to the coverage you used to have before the DUI charge. The premiums will be higher, but you’re still entitled to the same basic protections.

Certain insurance companies tried to make the case that the mere act of drinking and driving is intentional conduct, which would effectively allow them to avoid paying out on all damages resulting from a DUI. However, this is not the case and many states regulate auto insurance companies and forbid them from terminating policies after a DUI.

How to File a Successful DUI Claim

The insurer will cover all damages that resulted from your at-fault DUI accident. The only exception is if it is proven that this was intentional misconduct. Example: Cases of road rage when someone intentionally slams into a car or runs over a person are not covered by insurance companies. You will still have to prove that you were negligent in the accident. 

To file a successful personal liability claim, you must provide evidence of your negligence in the accident. In essence, the insurance company wants to know that you did not intentionally bring harm to another person. Insurers refuse to cover claims where the automotive owner caused an accident on purpose.

If the other person involved in the accident presses charges, their lawyer can file for intentional misconduct against you as the at-fault driver. Once the case goes to trial, the jury will likely award the plaintiff damages for your misconduct. In this case, the insurance company will also refuse to pay for the damages you caused despite you having liability coverage. You will have to pay for intentional damage out of pocket. In an intentional DUI accident, all damages have to be paid out of pocket, similar to not having any insurance at all.

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