Monday, July 11, 2011

How DWI & Violations Can Affect NYS Car Insurance

Or You can run but you can’t hide...

Insurance companies are typically not notified or contacted following a drinking driving incident (DWI arrest) unless there is an accident or until a driver’s license is suspended or revoked (cancelled) by the NYS DMV. License suspensions for DWI in NYS typically do not begin until the arraignment (initial appearance) in Court, this is called a “suspension pending prosecution.”

If there is a drinking (drug) related accident it is likely that your car insurance company will do one of three things: drop you (no coverage), raise your rates substantially, or place you in a new category (undesirable/ high risk pool/ minimal coverage).

If it is a no accident DWI or DWAI: When and IF (the big if) your insurance company checks (runs) your driver’s license history (usually every one to three years) they will likely increase (substantially) your premiums or drop you as a customer at your next renewal date. I had one client (under 21) whose insurance went up to $7,500/year. BTW The boy’s father dropped him from his policy, and household not the insurance coverage.

Whenever an insurance company has a brand new customer looking to get car insurance, or an existing customer who requests a change (either up or down in coverage, or a new car, or a car exchange) in policy, the insurance company will typically run a new (recent) driving record check. NYS calls these driving “abstracts.” On the abstract are infractions, violations, DWI, suspensions, revocations, changes, PIRP (point insurance reduction programs), with the dates of the convictions/actions to your license. Currently you can get a copy of this at any DMV for $10.
Speeding tickets, reckless, accidents, and careless driving affect insurance premiums greatly. Company to company, the change may be an additional $300 to $700 more per year for three (yes, 3) or more years. They say, "Speed kills," but it also "costs." 

NYS is a member of the Driver License Compact (45 states belong), and also connects and logs onto a National License Registry. If you change states (relocate) then the new state will likely get a full driver license history from NYS. So you can run but you can’t hide from your history. Some states require that you show an insurance carrier your drinking driver history, this is called a SR-22, and if anything happens to license (like a DWI suspension) the carrier is notified immediately about your suspension.

Even though NYS DWI and DWAI convictions do not have any points associated with them they have something referred to by the DMV as negative units. These will be on your unseen (the DMV has their own system) record, and will affect future car insurance premiums. It is especially important that you avoid any future additional moving/driving violations. If your insurance company raises your premiums, changes your coverage pool, or drops you, you should “shop around.” Insurance these days is a highly competitive industry, and many companies (without name brand recognition) would be happy to take your premiums even with a DWI on your record.