It is late at night, you have had a few beers with your friends at the local sports bar, and the football game just ended. Although you’re feeling a bit lightheaded, you shrug it off, figuring it’s late enough that the roads should be clear.
As you pull out of the bar, you find it a little harder than usual to navigate, and within a few minutes, you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror. An officer pulls you over, asks you to walk in a straight line, and has you blow into a breathalyzer. You figure you will pass, but unfortunately, you blow a 0.08 — enough to earn you a citation for driving under the influence (a DUI).
You are embarrassed and ashamed as he takes you and your vehicle to the local police station until a friend can pick you and your vehicle up.
Getting a DUI, a drunk-driving traffic violation can be life-altering. Penalties are stiff and can stay with you for a long time, not to mention the negative media coverage and having your mugshot online for all to see.
You may be wondering if you need to tell your car insurance company about your DUI citation. In fact, the answer varies based on your circumstances. If you are ever in doubt, it is best to disclose the violation to your insurance agent or your insurance carrier’s customer service representatives.
When You’re Looking For A New Car Insurance Policy
It’s best to be forthcoming from the get-go: not telling the car insurance agent about a DUI when you are looking to start a new policy will only hurt you in the long run. Being up front will get you the most accurate car insurance quote. A car insurance agent is not here to judge you, and you are probably far from the first person who has walked into their office with a similar situation. In the end, the insurance company will run your driving record and learn about your driving violations, whether you tell them or not. It may or may not be determined at the time you make your initial payment, but either way, they will collect the difference in premium or potentially cancel your policy if a DUI is found for ineligibility. If you are not honest from the beginning, your policy could be voided, or you might have to start the quote process all over again. It is best to be forthcoming so that your insurance agent can advise you on the best policies for your specific needs.
When You Have An Existing Car Insurance Policy
Normally in an existing car insurance policy, your rate is locked in until your renewal date. As such, you are in luck: getting a major violation such as a DUI is not going to affect your policy until the policy period is over. Notifying your insurance company of the violation probably will not have any effect on your policy for the time being. Most insurance carriers run a motor vehicle report on each driver every renewal. At that time, your insurance carrier will take the necessary action required by their guidelines. Some will raise your rates while others might non-renew your policy. They are going to find out about the violation whether you tell them or not.
Letting your insurance agent know in advance could still be helpful. Your agent can let you know exactly what the standard procedure is for your current insurance carrier. If you have an independent insurance agent, he or she will be able to start looking for other potential carriers which might get you a lower rate.
Tip: It is in the circumstances like this that having an insurance agent really comes in handy. He or she is able to give you advice without affecting your policy.
What If I Do Not Tell My Car Insurance Company About Someone Having A DUI In My Household?
Holding back information about other drivers in your household is a big no-no. Insurance carriers have ways of determining household residents, but it is not always 100% accurate. Nearly every insurance carrier wants all licensed drivers in the household listed on the policy. They can be listed as drivers or excluded drivers. However, they do need to be listed. Not disclosing drivers, especially known high-risk drivers, can really get you into trouble. Worst case scenario: a claim may not be paid, or you could be charged with insurance fraud if the insurance company has enough evidence to prove you knowingly withheld information.
It is definitely best to deal with high-risk drivers in the household head-on. Trying to save money now could cost you a fortune in the future. Be honest about drivers in the household and their driving record — for your sake. If you are committed to not letting them drive any of the vehicles in your household, definitely get the process of listing them as an excluded driver started right away. If your insurance company finds out through someone else rather than from you, it’s only going to cause more of a headache.