Been convicted of drink driving? Here’s how you can find affordable car insurance to get you back on the road.
Everyone makes mistakes, and those mistakes can often have damaging consequences. If you’ve been convicted of drink driving, not only will you have to face whatever penalty the authorities hand out, but you’ll also face an uphill battle to find affordable car insurance. If you’ve got a DUI to your name, your insurer may raise your premiums or even exclude you from cover altogether.
However, it is still possible for drink drivers to find car insurance in Australia. Keep reading to find out how.
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Can I get car insurance if I'm a convicted drink driver?
Shopping for car insurance in Australia with a DUI on your record? The good news is that you’ll usually be able to find cover; the bad news is that it will usually be more expensive.
If you’re convicted of drink-driving, this could potentially affect your car insurance in a few different ways:
- No cover. Some insurers will flat-out refuse to cover you if you have had a drink- or drug-driving conviction within a certain time period, usually the last three or five years. Others may refuse to cover you if you’ve had multiple convictions within the same period.
- Higher premiums. Some insurers impose a premium loading to the policies of drivers with a DUI in Australia.
- Increased excess. Another strategy insurers use to minimise their risk is to increase the minimum basic excess that applies to the policy of anyone with a drink-driving conviction.
However, unless you’ve got a string of serious drink-driving convictions, you should still be able to find an insurer willing to provide cover. Not all insurers assess convicted drivers the same way, and a 2016 investigation by NewsCorp showed that one of Australia’s largest insurance providers does not place any significant premium increases on people convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
What does this mean for you? Well, if you’re looking for DUI car insurance in Australia, you’ll need to shop around for the best value for money.
How will a drink-driving conviction affect my car insurance costs?
The effect a drink-driving conviction has on your car insurance premium varies between insurers. It could lead to:
- Higher premiums. Many insurers impose a premium loading on your policy. It’s not a small loading either, and could be as much as 50% or more.
- A higher excess. Your insurer may only agree to cover you if you’re willing to pay an increased excess when you claim. This excess could be as high as $2,000 and could also apply for up to five years.
- No change. Some insurers won’t impose any premium increase when you return from a drink-driving suspension.
Why is drink driving such a big deal?
Why all the fuss about getting behind the wheel after enjoying a beverage or two? It’s simple: alcohol has been proven to be a major factor in a large proportion of fatal road accidents. Take these statistics from around Australia as a demonstration of just how dangerous it can be to drive while under the influence:
- According to Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission, in 2016 there were 34 drivers and motorcycle riders who lost their lives with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) greater than the legal limit of 0.05.
- In 2015, drink driving contributed to 57 fatalities on Queensland roads – that’s almost one in every four road deaths.
- Drink driving is a factor in more than 20% of all fatal crashes across NSW, resulting in the deaths of nearly 100 people every year
How to find the right policy
There are a number of steps you can take to increase your chances of getting cover in place if you have been convicted of drink driving.
- Get a quote. The only way to find out how your conviction will affect the cost of cover, or whether the insurer will even be willing to cover you, is to apply for a quote. Get quotes from multiple insurers to find out who will insure you and at what cost.
- Check what’s covered. Rather than simply choosing a policy based on its price, read the PDS to find out exactly what is covered. For example, is your car covered for its agreed or market value? What events are included in cover?
- Cover limits. It’s also worth checking the table of benefits to make sure whether any limits apply to cover. For example, what’s the maximum benefit payable for emergency repairs or for stolen or damaged personal effects? If the policy will pay for a hire car after theft, for how long will rental costs be covered?
- Optional extras. Can you add any extras to your policy for an additional premium? For example, you may want to join your insurer’s roadside assistance program.
- Exclusions. Next, check the list of general exclusions to make sure you’re fully aware of all the situations and circumstances that won’t be covered by your policy.
- Who is the underwriter? Read the fine print to see who underwrites the policy – is it a reputable company with a solid background in car insurance?
- How to claim. Finally, check with the insurer to find out what you’ll need to do when you need to make a claim. Is there a claims app for added convenience? How long do claims take to process? Does the insurer have a good reputation for processing claims quickly and efficiently?
By taking the time to compare your options and shop around, you should be able to find the most cost-effective option for your vehicle.
Tips for reducing your premiums
There’s plenty more you can do to help reduce the impact an Australian DUI conviction will have on your car insurance premiums. You can:
- Complete a drink-driving awareness course. Providers around the country offer a range of drink-driving awareness courses designed to educate drivers about the dangers of getting behind the wheel when under the influence. If you complete a course that’s approved by your insurer, you may be able to lower your premiums.
- Get a breathalyser fitted. Alcohol ignition interlocks are breath test devices that prevent a car from starting if your blood alcohol content is higher than zero. If you have one of these devices fitted to your vehicle, your insurer may be willing to offer you a reduced premium.
- Build a clean record. Even if your car insurance options are limited right now, you might be able to get lower premiums, or find a wider variety of insurers willing to cover you, after some time has passed. By simply being a safe driver and never getting behind the wheel when you’ve had anything to drink, you can ensure that the cost of cover will come down over time.
- Choose a lower level of cover. If the cost of comprehensive car insurance is too much, you might consider a basic policy that still includes important third party property damage cover.
- Use discounts to reduce costs. When looking at policies, you might want to factor in discounts you are eligible for when comparing costs.
- Be honest. Don’t try to lower your premiums by “forgetting” to tell your insurer about your DUI conviction. If you do, future claims could be refused and your insurer may cancel the policy altogether.
There are plenty of other simple things you can do to lower your car insurance premiums. Our guide to cheap* car insurance can help you find more affordable cover.
Will drink driving void my car insurance?
If you get behind the wheel of your car when you’re over the legal blood-alcohol limit of 0.05 (or 0 for L- and P-platers), your car insurance won’t cover you for any resulting claims. However, your cover could also be affected even if you’re under the legal limit – if you’re under the influence of alcohol or it is affecting your judgement, your insurer may refuse any claims.
The same goes if you hit the road while under the influence of any drug, while refusing to undergo an alcohol or drug test will also void your insurance.
With this in mind, if you’ve had anything to drink or you’re under the influence of any drug, stay safe and stay off the road.