You’re arrested while driving drunk. What should you tell your insurer? What impacts do impaired driving have on your car insurance premium? Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Do I need to inform my insurer that my driver’s licence has been suspended or revoked?
Yes, you need to inform your insurer quickly:
- when your driver’s licence has been suspended (usually for 90 days) because you were arrested for impaired driving;
- when you have been convicted of impaired driving and your licence has been revoked;
- when you are shopping for a new car insurance policy and you have already been convicted of drunk driving.
Were you thinking of telling your insurance company nothing? Bad idea! It can easily check on your driving record with the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) and your past could come back to haunt you if you have made a false declaration, or if you “forgot” to inform your insurer of a change in your circumstances.
Will my car insurance premium increase because I lost my licence?
What’s certain is that an arrest and conviction for driving under the influence increases your risk factor in the eyes of your insurer. And a higher risk means a higher premium.
What if you are not convicted following your arrest? Then there should be no impact on your premium. On the other hand, there will be one as soon as you are found guilty. This increase can be very significant: your premium could even triple! See the scenarios for the financial consequences of impaired driving for two drivers, especially the impacts on their private auto insurance premiums.
Every insurer has its own criteria for increasing premiums in such situations. Several factors are taken into consideration, including the driver’s age, driving record, etc., but also the level of seriousness of the infraction. So if you were stopped at a roadblock, and thus there is no aggravating factor, your premium will rise significantly, but it will increase even more if you caused an accident while you were impaired at the wheel or if you are a repeat drunk driving offender.
And remember that your premium could remain elevated for the next four to six years after your conviction.
Can I be insured even if I have a criminal record for driving under the influence?
If you are convicted of driving while impaired by alcohol, you will have a criminal record. When you regain your right to drive, you can be insured but it may be harder for you to find an insurer.
Again, it all depends on the risk you represent for insurance companies. Your premium will rise considerably for a first offence, but if you did not cause an accident, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding an insurer. On the other hand, if you have several convictions over a few years, or if you caused an accident, some insurers could refuse to cover you. You’ll then have to turn to a specialized insurer.
You can see that impaired driving has a big influence on vehicle insurance premiums. Be careful: there are many myths about the body's ability to eliminate alcohol. So when you drink, think about a safe way to get home.