Should You Tell Your Insurance Company About a DUI? The Pros and Cons

Getting a DUI can negatively impact your life in many ways. One major effect is increased car insurance rates. But do you have to tell your auto insurer about a DUI conviction? Let’s look at the pros and cons of not informing insurance companies about a DUI.

Do You Have to Report a DUI to Your Insurance Company?

In most states, there is no law requiring you to inform your auto insurer about a DUI conviction. The DMV and courts typically don’t notify insurers either.

However, not reporting a DUI is generally not advisable for several reasons:

  • Insurance companies regularly check driving records. They’ll likely find out about the DUI eventually.

  • Failing to disclose material information is grounds for denying claims.

  • Lying on an application constitutes insurance fraud.

Even though you may not have to report a DUI, it’s best to be upfront to avoid issues down the road.

How Insurers Find Out About DUIs

Here are the main ways car insurance companies discover DUI convictions:

  • Driving record checks – Insurers periodically review motor vehicle reports to check driving histories. DUIs appear on these reports.

  • SR-22 requirements – Many states require SR-22 certificates after a DUI. Requesting this proof of insurance from your insurer reveals the conviction.

  • Background checks – Insurance applications often ask about prior DUIs. Answering falsely can invalidate policies.

  • DMV reporting – Though not required, some states do inform insurers of driving offenses.

Overall, it’s very likely your insurer will find out about a DUI sooner or later through regular checks.

Potential Consequences of Not Reporting a DUI

Failing to inform an insurance company about a DUI conviction can lead to these repercussions:

  • Claim denial – Insurers may deny claims if they discover undisclosed information affecting risk.

  • Rate increase – Once discovered, a DUI typically leads to much higher premiums.

  • Policy cancellation – Some insurers may cancel coverage upon learning of a non-disclosed DUI.

  • Fraud accusations – Intentionally omitting material information like a DUI may constitute fraud.

  • License suspension – Not maintaining required insurance can cause your license to be suspended.

The bottom line: Not reporting a DUI opens up the possibility of denied claims, higher rates, cancelled coverage and allegations of fraud down the line.

When Do You Have to Report a DUI?

There are a few specific times when you should inform your auto insurer about a DUI:

  • When requesting an SR-22 certificate required by the state.

  • When applying for or renewing a policy. Answering application questions falsely can invalidate coverage.

  • If you are specifically asked about any new driving offenses.

  • As soon as possible after a conviction to avoid appearance of hiding information.

Other than these situations, no law obligates you to proactively report a new DUI to your insurance company. But it’s wise to do so anyway.

Pros of Not Reporting a DUI to Your Insurer

There are some potential advantages to not informing your insurance provider about a DUI:

Delayed rate increases – Not reporting immediately delays premium hikes, giving you time to shop for cheaper coverage.

Avoiding policy cancellation – Insurers can’t cancel coverage mid-term, so you maintain insurance temporarily.

No application issues – Omitting a DUI avoids complications when initially applying for coverage.

Maintaining good driver discounts – Keeping a DUI off your record retains your good driver status for discounts.

Locking in lower rates – Renewing coverage before the DUI is discovered lets you keep lower premiums longer.

So not reporting a DUI conviction can buy you time to explore options before new rates take effect. But this course of action has risks.

Cons of Not Telling Insurance About a DUI

Here are some potential downsides of not informing your insurer about a DUI:

  • Possible rate increase – Once discovered, a DUI typically increases premiums significantly.

  • Claim denial – Failing to disclose a DUI provides grounds for denying claims later on.

  • Policy cancellation – An undisclosed DUI gives insurers a reason to cancel your policy.

  • License suspension – Driving without proper insurance mandated after a DUI can lead to a suspended license.

  • Fraud accusations – Omitting material information like a DUI on an application constitutes fraud.

  • Complications with proof – Getting SR-22 coverage without disclosing the DUI to your insurer creates issues.

The risks outweigh the rewards for not reporting a DUI to your insurance provider. It’s better to be transparent to avoid complications.

How Much Do Rates Increase After a DUI?

On average, car insurance rates go up between 75% to 100% after a DUI conviction. However, rate hikes vary considerably based on:

  • Number of convictions – Multiple DUIs lead to much higher rates than one conviction.

  • State – Rates increase more in some states than others for a DUI.

  • Insurer – Some companies raise premiums more aggressively for DUIs than others.

  • Driver history – Good drivers may see smaller increases versus drivers with prior violations.

  • Demographics – Age, gender and other factors influence rate changes.

For younger drivers, a single DUI can potentially even double insurance premiums. The increase is typically less drastic for older drivers with clean records.

Can You Get Affordable Coverage After a DUI?

Here are some tips for finding affordable car insurance even after getting a DUI:

  • Compare quotes from multiple insurers after the conviction. Rates can vary significantly.

  • Ask about policy discounts for safe driving courses, good grades, multi-policies and more.

  • See if your insurer offers accident forgiveness to limit rate increases.

  • Enroll in a usage-based insurance program to get rates based on actual driving habits.

  • Shop for providers that specialize in coverage for high-risk drivers.

  • Opt for higher deductibles to reduce overall premiums.

  • Consider dropping collision and comprehensive coverage to lower costs.

  • Maintain a clean driving record after the DUI to eventually lower premiums.

While a DUI causes rates to rise, it’s still possible to find competitively priced coverage.

Can You Remove a DUI from Insurance Records?

It’s very difficult to get a DUI conviction removed from your auto insurance records. Here’s why:

  • DUI convictions remain on driving histories for 5 to 10 years in most states. Insurers will see the offense on records during this time.

  • Even after it’s removed from your motor vehicle record, insurers may still consider it when determining risk.

  • Once premiums increase after a DUI, it takes years of clean driving to reverse rate hikes and qualify for good driver discounts again.

  • SR-22 requirements cause issues for up to 3 years after a conviction in most states.

Realistically, you can expect a DUI to impact your car insurance rates for 5 years or more. Maintaining a clean record after the conviction helps premiums gradually decrease.

Deciding If You Should Disclose a DUI to Your Insurer

If you’re debating whether or not to inform your insurance provider about a DUI conviction, consider these questions:

  • How likely is it that my insurer will discover the DUI on their own through a routine check?

  • Will I need to provide an SR-22 certificate requested from my insurer?

  • How much are rates likely to increase once the DUI is factored in?

  • Is the short-term benefit of delaying rate hikes worth potential long-term consequences?

  • What are the chances my insurer would pursue fraud charges if I omit the DUI?

  • Am I comfortable providing inaccurate background info that could jeopardize future claims?

Carefully weighing these concerns can help guide your decision making. Being transparent is usually the wisest approach.

The Bottom Line

Although you may not be legally obligated to report a DUI to your insurer in most states, it’s typically advisable to do so. Being upfront avoids complications like denied claims, cancelled policies and allegations of fraud in the future.

Not disclosing a DUI conviction might buy you a little extra time before rates increase. But it’s rarely worth the gamble long-term. Discuss your specific situation with an insurance agent or attorney to make an informed decision that protects your driving privileges and coverage.

Do I Have to Tell My Insurance Company If I’m Charged with a DUI?


Does a DUI conviction cause the driver’s insurance provider to cancel his or her policy?

Your Insurance Provider May Cancel Your Policy Once the company determines how your DUI will impact the policy, it will notify the DMV of any relevant legal changes. If your car insurance policy is canceled, the DMV will send notification to you, explaining that you need to obtain new car insurance.

How long does an OWI affect insurance in Michigan?

A DUI in Michigan can affect insurance for up to 10 years, depending on how far back the insurance company looks in a driver’s motor vehicle record. Most insurers look back at the past 3-5 years of a driver’s motor vehicle record when calculating premiums, but some look even further for major violations like DUI.

How long does a DUI affect your insurance in California?

A DUI conviction in California can impact your car insurance until the conviction no longer appears on your criminal record or your record at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). DUIs remain on your record for 10 years, so they will affect your car insurance for a decade.

How long does a DUI affect your insurance in PA?

If you were a risk to begin with, or your DUI also involved a reckless driving charge or a vehicular homicide, you may be virtually uninsurable. A DUI conviction has the ability to affect your insurance rates for at least three years—if not more.

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