How Does a DUI Affect California Insurance?

A DUI comes with many costs, concerns, and consequences – among them is what will happen to your car insurance. It’s not definite, but there is a very strong chance that your insurance company will raise your premium, and there are some points in the process that you should be aware of.

Firstly, it’s worth mentioning that under California law, you are under no obligation to report a DUI to your insurance company. On the one hand, this grants you a great benefit – you may be able to get your DUI charge reduced or dismissed in court, causing your insurance company to review your policy more leniently when it comes time to renew. On the other hand, there is still a very good chance your company will find out about the DUI if you are convicted.

An insurance company generally only reviews your driving record when you renew your policy, or start a new one. A DUI, or failure to appear in court for a DUI, will stay on your record for 10 years; your insurance company will find out sooner or later. It will be sooner if the DMV requires an SR 22 from you.

When you receive a DUI, the state of California revokes your driving privileges. In order to reinstate them, you must present an SR 22 to the DMV. An SR 22 is a certificate that confirms you meet California’s minimum requirements for auto insurance liability coverage. The only way to get an SR 22 is through your insurance company, who will learn about your DUI through issuing your SR 22.

The good news is California law prevents insurance companies from adjusting or cancelling your policy midterm. You can use this leeway to prepare for the likelihood that your premiums will increase when it comes time to renew your auto insurance.  However, if your license cannot be reinstated with an SR 22 your company may cancel you based on your license status.

This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements. The definitions, terms and coverages in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

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