Driver’s license suspensions happen.
However, once your license is suspended, you cannot legally operate a motor vehicle.
So, when you can’t drive, how are you supposed to insure a car? After all, your driving history is one of the top considerations when determining your rate, but also you need to submit a valid driver’s license to get a policy.
You are in a sticky situation. However, depending on the reasons for the suspension you may have a workaround to keep your vehicle insured while you wait out your suspension. If your policy were to lapse, you might have to deal with the consequences of a gap in coverage – which means penalties and higher premiums.
Auto Insurance Companies are Unlikely to Renew or Keep a Policy if Your License is Suspended
An auto insurer will not issue a new policy or renew a policy for a driver who cannot drive. Furthermore, your suspension increases your risk to that company. For some companies, that is enough to cut their losses and not take you.
Most driver’s license suspensions occur for risky driving behaviors, which is why insurers are quick to drop someone with a suspended license. For example, common reasons for a suspended license include a DUI, multiple reckless driving violations, driving without insurance or too many points against your license.
The more risk, the more likely an insurer will have to pay claims for accidents, which is money lost for them.
So, the goal is to show the insurer that you are a valuable customer to keep on, and not pay a budget-breaking premium in the process.
Do You Qualify for a Restricted Driver’s License?
Even though you have a suspension, you may qualify for a restricted driver’s license. You will need to consult your state’s department of motor vehicles. Also, if criminal charges were part of the reason for your suspension, you may be required to go through the district attorney’s office as well. The DMV may require pre-approval from the district attorney before issuing a restricted license.
Even so, restricted licenses work as they sound: you can only use them in highly specific situations, and any violation of that use will result in a suspension (and possibly criminal charges).
Some reasons you may obtain a restricted license after a suspension include:
- Medical conditions that require frequent doctor’s visits.
- Maintaining gainful employment when public transportation options are too limited to help you get to and from work.
- You have dependents that require your assistance getting places (with a DUI this may be difficult to receive).
Regardless, the reason for your suspension will dictate whether you successfully receive your restricted license, and you may only be permitted to drive to and from the doctor’s office and nothing more.
Restricted Licenses Might Not be Enough
Even if the state issues a restricted license, it is no guarantee the insurer will keep you on, give you a policy, or renew your policy.
Do You Need to Insure a Vehicle Only?
Perhaps you do not need to drive, but you still want insurance coverage for a vehicle while it remains parked or while someone else in your household utilizes it.
In this case, you have a few options:
- Put the policy in the family member’s name that will use the car. You cannot drive, but the party who can legally operate the vehicle can put the insurance policy in their name. This helps you avoid the extra costs of a high-risk insurance policy. If the person driving the car is not on the title, you may still run into issues using this method.
- Request a policy for parking your vehicle only. If no one will operate the car, but it will remain parked on your property, you may get an individual policy for that parked, inoperable vehicle. Not all insurance companies offer these policies. In this case, you would not need collision insurance. You would, however, need comprehensive in case your vehicle was stolen, vandalized, or damaged in a storm. Having a non-operational policy will prevent you from paying more for gaps in coverage.
Shop Around and Consider High-Risk Policies
If you receive a restricted license, your insurer may still drop you from their policy. Luckily, you can purchase insurance under high-risk plans. These do cost more, and if your license is reinstated permanently, you may still be required to have an SR-22 form.
In this case, your best option is to try obtaining quotes from multiple providers. The more quotes you receive, the better your chances are of unlocking premiums that will not break the bank.
Likewise, the high-risk policies may offer discounts if you roll over other insured products, such as multiple vehicles (including those that do not require a high-risk coverage) and homeowner’s insurance.
Bottom line speak with an agent and explore your options. Explain the reasons for your suspension, your concerns, and hopefully, the agent can find a policy that works to keep you covered even if you cannot drive for a few months (or even years).