How Do Insurance Companies Find Out About a DUI?

Last Updated on February 17, 2021

Getting a DUI will raise car insurance premiums. In most states, a DUI raises premiums by 40% to 100%, and you could pay higher premiums for up to 10 years.

But how do insurance companies find out about DUI convictions?

Typically, insurance companies discover a DUI by checking your driving record or contacting the DMV. You are not legally obligated to report a DUI to your insurance company, although your insurance company will periodically check your driving record to verify your information.

Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about insurance companies discovering DUIs – including how to pay lower insurance rates even if you have a DUI.How Do Insurance Companies Find Out About a DUI?

Table of Contents:

Insurance Companies Regularly Check your Driving Record

As a licensed driver in your state, you have a driving record. This driving record is called your Motor Vehicle Report, or MVR.

Your insurer will periodically check your MVR to verify your information, check your driving history, and see if you have any recent convictions.

Most insurance companies check your MVR every 6 to 12 months – or every time you renew your policy.

Any convictions from the previous 6 to 12 months will appear on your MVR, and those convictions will impact your insurance premiums moving forward. Because of this, you should periodically check your MVR for any inaccuracies.

A single DUI should raise rates by 40% to 100% immediately. If you have multiple DUIs, at-fault accidents, speeding tickets, and other incidents within the lookback period, however, it could lead to higher rates – or even complete cancellation of your insurance policy.

The DMV Does Not Notify your Insurance Company

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or your equivalent state organization will not notify your insurer about the DUI.

The insurer does not receive a notification from the state DMV, the police, the government, or any other body.

Instead, your DUI is technically “undiscovered” until your insurer pulls your Motor Vehicle Report.

Depending on the timing of your DUI, you could avoid paying higher insurance premiums for months after your DUI. Unfortunately, due to SR-22 and FR-44 requirements, your insurance company will raise premiums immediately after a DUI.

SR-22 and FR-44 Insurance After a DUI

In most states, drivers with a DUI need SR-22 or FR-44 car insurance.

After being convicted of a DUI, the DMV may suspend your license and registration. To reinstate your license and registration, you may need to provide an SR-22 or FR-44 certificate, which verifies you have valid car insurance coverage.

To obtain an SR-22 or FR-44 certificate, you need to notify your insurance company. Your insurance company will provide the SR-22 or FR-44 certificate. However, as a higher-risk driver, you may need to pay higher rates for your current auto insurance plan.

In other words, your insurer may not immediately discover your DUI, but they will immediately discover your SR-22 or FR-44 requirement.

In this situation, your insurer will pull your driving history, see your DUI, and you’ll pay higher rates for the near future. Or, the insurer may even deny your request for car insurance.

Not all states have SR-22 or FR-44 requirements. Some states only require SR-22 or FR-44 certificates after a second or subsequent DUI. If you are required to obtain SR-22 or FR-44 insurance after your DUI, then the DMV will notify you of the requirement.

Can I Avoid Telling My Insurer About My DUI?

You are not legally obligated to inform your insurer of your DUI conviction.

Most states do not have a law requiring drivers to notify their insurer of DUI convictions or other incidents.

Instead, it’s up to your insurance company to do its due diligence, verify your driving history, and check your Motor Vehicle Report.

However, it’s generally a good idea to be honest with your insurer about your DUI conviction. If you require SR-22 or FR-44 insurance, your insurer will quickly discover your DUI anyway. And, lying to your insurance company can lead to denial of future claims.

Your Insurer Could Deny Renewal After a DUI

If this is your first DUI on an otherwise clean record, then your insurer is unlikely to cancel your policy.

However, if you have multiple DUIs or at-fault accidents, then you could face steeper penalties. Your insurer could deny renewal of your policy after a DUI, forcing you to look for other insurance companies.

In some cases, high-risk drivers with multiple DUIs are unable to obtain insurance from the open marketplace. Instead, they need to work with non-standard insurance companies or request insurance through your state’s assigned risk pool to get coverage.

Don’t Withhold Information from your Insurance Company

If you withhold information about your DUI, or the DUI of any driver in your household, to your insurance company, then you could face issues.

An insurance company could deny a future claim if they prove you lied to them about a DUI conviction or other issue.

The insurance company may refuse to pay a claim or accuse you of insurance fraud, for example, if they prove you knowingly hid information about high-risk drivers in your household.

Let’s say your husband has a DUI. You apply for car insurance, and you avoid listing your husband on your policy to avoid higher insurance premiums. Your husband continues to drive your vehicle regularly. If your husband gets into an accident, then insurance could deny your claim. You did not tell your insurance company full details about risk, so they can deny your claim.

For all of these reasons, it’s best to be honest with your insurance company when handling DUIs.

Be Upfront When Searching for a New Policy

In most states, a DUI stays on your record for 3 to 5 years. In some states, DUIs remain on your record for 7 to 10 years – or even longer.

It’s important to be honest with your insurance company when shopping for car insurance. If you are buying a new policy from a new insurance company, then you need to tell that new insurance company about your DUI convictions. Most insurers ask on the application form.

If you do not tell your new insurance company, then you could get lower rates on your initial application – but your new insurance company will discover the DUI later after checking your driving record.

Compare Rates to Pay Lower Car Insurance After a DUI

If you were recently convicted of a serious offense, like a DUI, then it’s a great time to compare rates. In fact, many experts specifically recommend comparing rates after a DUI conviction, at-fault accident, or another serious incident.

Some insurance companies treat DUIs as seriously as multi-fatality accidents. Other insurance companies treat them less severely.

Some insurance companies immediately double your rates after a single DUI conviction, then keep rates high for a decade.

Other insurance companies raise rates by “only” 40%, then drop the DUI from your driving record after 3 or 5 years of clean driving.

That’s why comparing rates is important. Different insurance companies treat DUIs in different ways. By comparing rates today, you could save thousands of dollars on car insurance over the next few years.

Final Word on Insurance Companies Finding Out About DUI’s

Insurance companies learn your driving history – including your DUI convictions – by checking your driving record and contacting the DMV.

Most insurance companies check your driving record every time you renew your policy. Any convictions within the previous 6 to 12 months will appear on your driving record. Those convictions will impact your premiums moving forward.

To pay lower prices even with a DUI conviction, compare insurance premiums today.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for InsurancePanda.com and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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