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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Let’s face it, if you are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), your car insurance premiums will go up significantly. There are a few things that you can do to lower your car insurance rates a bit, even after a major incident like a DUI. Three of the most effective things you can consider to lower your insurance rates are paying fines and penalties, taking a driver safety course, and changing to a safer or cheaper car.
Whether you have a perfect driving record or you are a high-risk driver, you can find the best car insurance rates today by entering your ZIP code into the FREE search box found here!
Paying fines and penalties should be your first priority after a DUI, since your driving record will not start to improve until those are resolved. You may start to look a bit safer as a driver after taking a driver safety course and your insurance company may reward you with lower rates.
After a DUI it will be time to trade in the hot rod for a safe sedan if you want to save money on car insurance. Cheaper cars with better safety ratings get better rates.
Other Events That Can Raise Your Insurance Cost
In addition to a DUI or DWI, other events are sure to raise your insurance costs. An accident, particularly if you are at fault, will often result in a rate increase, sometimes a substantial one. Moving violations, such as speeding tickets will also be a bad mark on your driving record that may drive up your insurance rates, in some cases even if you get only a single ticket.
Suspicious or frequent claims such as your car is vandalized or stolen once a month will cause an insurer to charge you higher premiums or drop you. Switching to a more expensive or more dangerous car can also raise your insurance rates.
Where you live affects your insurance cost as well. If you move to the wrong area particularly if you move from the country to a city, you may end up paying more for insurance.
High-Risk Auto Insurance
If your driving record is too bad, you find yourself not only being asked to pay higher rates, but being turned down or dropped by insurance companies. This is because you may be considered too high of a risk to insure.
You should go to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and get a copy of your driving record in this case so that you can find out exactly what problems exist on your record. Next, you will need to find an insurer who offers high-risk auto insurance.
High risk auto insurance basically works the same as other auto insurance, with the exact same choices for coverage.
The difference is, since there is a higher risk to the insurance company, they charge a higher premium to the customer.
High-risk auto insurance can be quite expensive, so it is definitely in your best interest to get your driving record cleaned up quickly so you can go back to normal car insurance as soon as possible.
State Minimums for Auto Insurance
Most states require drivers to carry some sort of car insurance. Even the states that don’t have a formal insurance requirement will require that a driver show proof of financial responsibility. This means that a driver must prove that he or she has enough money in an account to cover the reasonable cost of an accident.
In California, for example, a driver must either have proof of insurance or an authorization letter from the California Department of Motor Vehicles authorizing them to drive as either self-insured or as a cash depositor.
For states which do have a formal insurance requirement, that requirement can vary by type and amount. Most states require liability insurance to some degree. No-fault states, meaning those that do not assign fault in the case of an accident for insurance purposes may also require you to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. As an example, Florida requires both $10,000 in property damage insurance and $10,000 in PIP insurance, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
What Happens if You Do Not Have Car Insurance
If you do not have car insurance and your state requires it, you could be in some trouble. States have different ways of enforcing their insurance laws. Some states may require proof of insurance before you can legally register your car.
Others states may have police check for proof of insurance when investigating an accident, performing a traffic stop, or even on a random safety check. This often results in large fines or license suspensions for people who are found to not have insurance. Some states have insurance laws in name only and do almost nothing to enforce them.
Even if your state does not have an insurance requirement, not having insurance could cost you a lot of money.
If you cause an accident and you’re not insured, you could be sued for damages to cars and other property damaged in the accident and you can be sued for medical expenses of those injured in an accident. Even in a no-fault state, you would be stuck paying for your medical expenses after an accident if you didn’t have insurance.
Type of Car Insurance to Carry
While most states will require you to carry liability insurance and perhaps PIP insurance, there are circumstances where you might want more. In particular, if you have a newer or more expensive car, you are probably going to want a collection of different types of coverage to make sure you are reimbursed for damages to the car, regardless of how they happen. In fact, if you borrowed money to buy a car, your lender will probably require extensive coverage.
In most cases, liability insurance will pay for damage to your car if another driver is at fault in an accident, but what if the accident is your fault, or even nobody’s fault. In that case, collision insurance is your best bet to cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle. If another driver causes an accident, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage will cover you if the other driver does not have enough insurance.
Comprehensive insurance is a nice catch-all insurance that covers situations not caused by an accident. Comprehensive coverage can help you if your car is stolen, vandalized, or damaged by fire or weather. Of course, once the value of your vehicle drops to a certain point, it will cost you more in premiums to have the extra coverage than the vehicle is worth.
Towing insurance is another popular add-on that people choose, mainly because it is often inexpensive. Keep in mind, however that is you already have towing provided through an auto club or through your car dealer, there’s no point in paying for it again from your insurance company.
Amount of Car Insurance to Carry
Determining how much collision or comprehensive insurance you need is pretty simple. You get enough insurance to cover the replacement cost of your car. Liability property damage insurance is a little trickier, since you need to guess how much damage you may cause when you cause an accident. One popular method is to take enough insurance to cover the replacement cost of a luxury car, thus preparing you for a possible worst-case scenario.
When it comes to injury liability insurance, an article on SmartMoney suggests that you should base your coverage on the amount of personal assets you are trying to protect. If you have no money in the bank and you don’t own anything of value, you don’t have anything to lose.
If you are sued you don’t need a high amount of personal injury liability insurance, you can take the bare minimum. However, if you own a large home and have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of investments, you’ll want to get a much higher amount of insurance so people don’t sue you for your assets.
For PIP insurance, the state minimum requirement is usually not very realistic when you consider the costs of medical treatment, lost wages, and other expenses. With that in mind, you may want to consider getting one and a half or two times whatever the state legal minimum is for PIP insurance.
An insurance deductible is the amount of money you will have to pay out of your own pocket after an accident before your insurance starts to pay. Your deductible has a major effect on how much you pay for car insurance.
There is an inverse relationship between your deductible and your car insurance premium. When your deductible comes down, your car insurance premium goes up and vice versa.
When setting your deductible amount, it’s important to be realistic.
You should set your deductible to be just about the highest amount of money you could afford to pay in an emergency without causing serious financial hardship. This will allow you to survive an accident financially while still keeping your insurance premium as low as possible.
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