Driving under the influence is a very serious matter. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to get insured again. If you received a DUI in California and your insurance company dropped you, don’t panic. Below, we offer advice on how to get affordable insurance despite receiving a DUI in California.
Charged or Found Guilty.
There is a huge difference between being charged with a DUI and being found guilty. Charges are not part of your driving record; only convictions are. In most cases, unless the driver pleads guilty to the charge, it can take several months for your case to make it through the court system. In fact, if you plead not guilty and fight the charge, it could take from six months to a year before your case is resolved, and even then, your insurance may not be affected until your renewal.
The Purchase after the Conviction.
After your case has been heard and you are convicted of DUI, your current insurance company may or may not renew your policy. If they elect not to renew your policy, the rates may be so high that you cannot afford it. At this point, you would shop your insurance in California just as if you had not been canceled. Expect to pay up to 60 or 75% more for your coverage. Most of the name-brand carriers will not offer a quote, but many regional carriers will. In some situations, the driver may be required to file an SR-22 form with the California Department of Motor Vehicles which is how you show proof that you are carrying the minimum liability coverage. Typically the vehicle owner must file this form for three years following the date of the conviction; not every company is willing to do that, but Freeway offers this service.
Even if you feel embarrassed about your DUI conviction, it is important that you shop your new policy with an independent broker. Using a broker will save you time and money since they generally represent multiple carriers and can deliver the best deal. California’s independent brokers are self-employed and willing to put the needs of their client over the needs of the insurance carrier. They deal with drivers that may have blemishes on their driving records and are experts at finding the best value for their clients.
Pass on Optional Coverages.
Once you have an idea of the DUI surcharge that will be placed on your policy, it is time to consider whether you can afford the optional coverages that you are not required to carry. This is where your independent broker can go to work for you and help you understand what every optional coverage will cover so you can make an informed decision on whether it is necessary under the circumstances.
Consider opting against coverages like rental reimbursement, towing reimbursement, medical payments, or uninsured motorist. Of these, uninsured motorist coverage is the most important since it will pay for your injuries if you are hit and injured by another driver who does not have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance. You should take into consideration that approximately one in six drivers does not carry auto insurance and many that do carry insurance only carry the state minimum coverage.
Having a DUI conviction is expensive, but not that unusual. Unless your event involved a serious accident or death, the most severe consequences are likely to be financial. If this happens to you in California, then by all means, talk to Freeway to get some relief from the sticker shock that you’ll be facing when the conviction appears on your driving record.