Car insurance with a criminal record

A driving conviction doesn't mean you're uninsurable.

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If you’ve been convicted of a driving-related misdemeanor or felony, it is still possible to get car insurance, but you’ll likely have to pay a higher premium.

How does a criminal record affect car insurance?

It depends on the offenses and the insurer. For example, some insurers will slightly increase premiums for people with DUI convictions, while others will refuse to cover them at all.

Typically, only driving offenses will affect your car insurance rates. That’s because a DUI or reckless driving conviction shows a driver is at higher risk of getting in an accident, and insurers charge more for riskier drivers. Crimes that don’t involve driving, like theft or assault, won’t typically affect your rates at all, since they won’t show up on your driving record.

It doesn’t have to be a criminal offense, either. Minor infringements like a speeding ticket or running a stop sign can also impact your car insurance.

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Can car insurance companies see my driving record?

Yes. Insurance companies will pull your motor vehicle report (MVR) after you apply, which will show them any recent tickets, accidents, suspensions or convictions such as drunk or reckless driving.

If the information you give on your application doesn’t match your MVR, an insurance company can either change the price you were quoted or deny your application.

Can I see my driving record?

Yes, most states will allow you to request a copy of your MVR. You can go to your local DMV or Secretary of State and ask for a copy. Some states will also let you order a copy online.

How can I save on car insurance with a criminal record?

To cut down on costs:

  • Shop around. Get quotes from as many insurers as possible to get the best rate.
  • Reduce your coverage. Reducing your coverage can help lower the price of your policy, but only if your current coverage limits are too high. Consider dropping collision and comprehensive on an older car.
  • Raise your deductible. You can also save money by choosing a higher deductible if you’re purchasing collision or comprehensive insurance, but don’t agree to a deductible you won’t be able to afford.
  • Buy a different car. Some cars are cheaper to insure than others, and higher safety ratings, anti-theft devices and lower values all help lower insurance rates. If you’re in a real bind, you might do your wallet a big favor by downgrading.
  • Take a driving class. Sign up for a defensive driving class to show insurers that you’re serious about being a safe driver, and it can drive your premiums down.

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How long does it take for a criminal offense to get removed from my driving record?

A civil infraction stays on your record for 10 years, but a misdemeanor will stay on your record forever. However, while insurers will be able to see any driving-related convictions, they won’t be able to increase your rates for misdemeanors after a certain period.

For example, an offense like a speeding ticket won’t affect your rates after two to five years, depending on the state and type of infraction. It will no longer show up on your record after ten years.

A DUI, hit-and-run or suspended license will always show up on your driving record when an insurer pulls up your history. But insurers won’t be able to charge you higher rates after a certain period, typically ten years.

Bottom line

If you’ve been convicted of a driving-related offense in the past, you’ll have to pay higher premiums to get insured — but a single mistake doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get back out on the road. Take steps to show insurers that you’re serious about being a safe driver and compare car insurance providers to find the best rate.

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Frequently asked questions about car insurance with a criminal record

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