Will Your Car Insurance Pay for Bail?

Last Updated on May 26, 2020

You may be surprised to discover that car insurance could pay for bail.

It’s true: there are certain situations where drivers can use car insurance to cover bail. If you are caught committing a crime while driving, then you might be placed in prison until you pay bail. In this situation, your car insurance could cover your bail up to a certain limit.

Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about how car insurance pays for bail.

Will Your Car Insurance Pay for Bail?

Most Car Insurance Covers Bail

Yes, your standard car insurance policy should cover bail. Check your policy documentation to verify. There should be specific language explaining how car insurance covers bail, including the maximum amount of bail that can be covered by car insurance.

Your policy might state that it covers up to $1,000 for bail, for example.

Your car insurance policy will only cover bail related to driving. If you are charged with a crime after an accident, for example, then your policy could cover bail. Or, if you are charged with a crime for a traffic violation (like excessive speeding), then car insurance may cover bail.

How to Get Car Insurance to Pay for Bail

If you are charged with a crime and placed in prison, then you might need to pay bail to be released.

In this situation, you may contact your car insurance company to pay for your bail. Your car insurance company may have a limit of $500 to $1,000, while you or someone else covers your remaining bail out of pocket.

Generally, you will not be thrown in jail for a standard traffic violation or accident. However, you may be imprisoned for more serious offenses – say, if you injured someone else while driving intoxicated. You’re unlikely to go to prison for a speeding ticket.

Insurance Only Covers Certain Types of Bail

Your insurance policy lists restrictions on the types of bail covered. Understandably, your insurance will only cover bail for driving-related incidents. Your insurance cannot cover bail if you are arrested for murder, for example.

Similarly, insurance will not cover bail for insurance fraud or international acts.

If you are charged with insurance fraud because you lied to your insurance company, then your insurance company will not likely cover your bail. You might be charged with insurance fraud if you fabricated an accident, reported your car stolen when it really wasn’t, or deliberately damaged your car for insurance money, among other incidents.

Other Criminal Costs Covered by Car Insurance

Many drivers are surprised to learn that car insurance covers bail and other related criminal expenses.

If you are required to go to court as part of your insurance claim, for example, then your insurer will compensate you for any lost wages. Your car insurance company may require you to appear in court if another driver is suing you and your insurance company. In this situation, you can receive compensation for any work you missed.

Or, if you were put in prison after a traffic violation, and you are appearing in court because of that conviction, then your insurance company could compensate you.

Many insurance policies also cover legal expenses. Your car insurance liability coverage could cover the cost of hiring a lawyer if you are sued after an accident, for example.

In all of these situations, your car insurance will cover you up to the limits of your policy. If you have $100,000 of liability coverage per accident, for example, then your car insurance could cover bail, legal costs, and other expenses up to that limit.

How Car Insurance Bail Coverage Works

Car insurance covers bail through liability coverage. Liability coverage is one of three core components of car insurance, including collision coverage and comprehensive coverage. Collision and comprehensive coverage are optional in every state, while liability coverage is required in all states but two (New Hampshire and Virginia).

Liability coverage covers any damage you inflict to other people or property while driving. If you hit a pedestrian, for example, then your liability coverage could cover medical bills and other costs for that pedestrian. Similar rules apply if you cause an accident and are found at-fault: your liability coverage covers the cost of repairing the other vehicle, as well as any medical bills of the other driver and passengers.

Bail falls under liability coverage.

Because liability coverage is required in almost every state, you’re probably covered for bail. Even in states where liability coverage is not legally required (New Hampshire and Virginia), most drivers buy liability coverage anyway for protection.

Liability insurance limits vary between states. Some states require just $20,000 of liability coverage, for example, while others require $50,000 or more.

Legal defense fees and similar expenses all fall under liability coverage.

Check your policy documentation to verify coverage. Your policy should list the specific amount of bail covered by insurance. Most policies cover between $500 and $2,500 of bail, although some policies are only limited by your maximum liability coverage.

Situations Where Car Insurance Covers Bail

Generally, if you are convicted of a crime while driving and are imprisoned as a result, your car insurance will cover bail.

Most drivers will never have to use their car insurance bail coverage. However, here are some common situations where car insurance may cover bail:

DUI: If you are convicted of driving under the influence, then your car insurance will pay for any damages you caused while driving, and it could pay for any legal costs resulting from your DUI – including bail.

Reckless Driving: Reckless driving is a more serious charge than speeding. Reckless driving can lead to suspension of your license or even imprisonment. However, even if you injure other people, damage property, or are imprisoned while driving recklessly, insurance will cover your costs.

Other Criminal Convictions: Car insurance will cover costs relating to virtually any criminal conviction while driving, up to the limits of your policy.

Final Word

Check your car insurance policy to see if it covers bail. Most car insurance policies cover some amount of bail – say, $500 to $1,000. Most car insurance policies also cover certain legal expenses, lawyer fees, and more.

Being convicted of a crime while driving can be messy. Contact your car insurance company to ensure you are receiving the compensation you are owed based on the terms of your insurance policy.

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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