Do I have to declare criminal convictions for car insurance?

You must declare a criminal record for your car insurance because convictions like a DUI will affect your car insurance rates. Your credit score and ZIP code also play into your rates.

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Reviewed byJoel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Jul 1, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Certain criminal convictions involving moving violations, such as a DUI or DWI, can increase the cost of your car insurance rates
  • The major car insurance companies subscribe to a database run by private credit reporting agencies to verify the information you provide on your car insurance application
  • Car insurance companies will really only be concerned with criminal convictions that affect your credit score or your driving record

When car insurance companies offer you a quote for car insurance, the most important things they want to know about your personal background are your credit score and your driving record.

If you have a criminal conviction, such as a DUI or a DWI, that involves driving, then this would be more relevant to the price that you pay for insurance.

In fact, if you have a DUI or a DWI, you might find it harder to get (or afford) the insurance that you are required to have.

Find car insurance to meet your situation. Enter your zip code in our FREE comparison tool above!

Car Insurance Coverage after a DUI or DWI Conviction

The most common types of criminal convictions that result in drivers having to pay more for their auto insurance premiums are DUIs or DWIs.

Along with these crimes, drivers may have a suspension of their driver’s license that appears on their criminal record.

Auto insurance companies consider this as an indication of higher risk behavior on the part of the driver.

If a certain amount of time has passed since your criminal conviction for a DUI or a DWI, then this may have less of an effect on the price that you pay for car insurance.

Also, another thing to keep in mind is that driving without the necessary car insurance is illegal.

When you apply for an auto insurance policy, the insurer will ask you if you have current auto insurance coverage and will be able to check in an insurance database to verify that fact.

If you do not have current coverage, this is also considered risky behavior and could result in you having to pay more, at least temporarily, for your auto insurance policy.

In addition, any criminal conviction that has a negative effect on your credit score could be something that increases the price you have to pay to get auto insurance coverage.

Car insurance companies rely on reports from independent credit reporting agencies to assess the relative risk of each driver that applies for coverage.

Most criminal convictions will not affect your credit score.

Things like having to file for personal bankruptcy or any judgments against you will have a bigger impact on your credit score than most types of criminal convictions.

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Finding Insurance After a Criminal Conviction

If you have a criminal conviction that involves a moving violation and are having a tough time finding the legally required insurance in your state, a good place to consult is your state’s department of insurance.

Your state might have a system in place through which higher-risk drivers can obtain the required insurance at a higher cost.

Another thing to remember is that having a criminal conviction on your personal record does not affect whether your car insurance company will pay out a claim on your policy.

They are entirely separate matters because your car insurance company is concerned specifically with the terms of your policy.

As long as the information you submit in your application is truthful and accurate, the auto insurance company cannot avoid paying out your claim just because you have a criminal conviction on your personal record.

SR-22 Insurance Requirements After a DUI Conviction or Suspension of Your Driver’s License

Some states require an official certificate of your financial responsibility in maintaining the required car insurance coverage.

This is typically referred to as SR-22 insurance and is required after a conviction for a DUI.

This almost always means that you will pay more for insurance. The good news is that your insurance company will handle all of the official paperwork in documenting that you have the required car insurance coverage.

You may also be required to get SR-22 insurance if you have had your license suspended for any period of time.

The length of time that you are required to carry SR-22 insurance will depend on the severity of your violation and your previous record.

In most cases, the SR-22 insurance requirement lasts for three years.

As long as you do not have any violations during that time period, you are free and clear to obtain the standard auto insurance policy after that.

Ways to Reduce Your Rates After a Criminal Conviction

You may have some opportunities to reduce the amount that you pay for auto insurance.

You can do the following to find cheaper rates:

  • Shop around
  • Look for discounts
  • Talk to your agent

If you are not successful in getting a reasonable quote from the first auto insurance company you speak with, keep looking around.

Shopping for different quotes is not time-consuming at all and can make a big difference in your monthly bill.

Some companies offer drivers discounts for taking a driving safety course. If you have moving violations on your driving record or criminal convictions involving a vehicle, then this could be an effective way for you to get a discount.

Talk to your auto insurance agent about what options are available in your area.

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Wrap Up on Criminal Convictions and Getting Car Insurance

While auto insurance companies may be able to look into your criminal record, the only types of criminal convictions that matter for your driving record are those that involve your driving history.

The car insurance company will not deny you coverage just because you have a criminal conviction on your record unrelated to driving.

If you are having trouble getting approved for a car insurance policy after being convicted of a DUI or DWI, you can contact your state department of insurance for options for insurance coverage for high-risk drivers.

Keep in mind that car insurance companies also consider your credit score when offering you quotes for insurance along with a long list of other factors in your personal background.

Compare rates today by entering your zip code below!

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