For anyone who was just arrested for a DUI, today’s story could save them — or mom and dad if they are on a family member’s policy — thousands of dollars of auto insurance premiums.
An arrest for DUI is completely avoidable, making a strong statement about self-control, judgment and caring about the welfare of others — including whoever pays the auto insurance premium
On top of penalties associated with that DUI, “everyone knows” that automobile insurance rates will immediately be going through the roof, if your company doesn’t promptly cancel you instead.
But is that really so? How would you answer this question?
“If arrested for a DUI, the law requires me to immediately notify my auto insurance company.”
Hint: What “everyone knows” is often far from correct.
Even many lawyers do not know the right answer
“The amount of wrong information out there about a DUI and auto insurance is, if you will pardon the play on words, staggering, according to Laguna Hills-based Kristopher Beaulieu.
He is an insurance agent with Breathe-Easy Insurance Solutions, specializing in a little known — but extremely valuable–type of auto insurance tailor-made for high-risk drivers — such as a DUI or reckless driving — and which protects their current insurance premium. We’ll tell you how this works in a moment, but first an answer to our question:
There is no legal obligation — none at all — to inform your auto insurance company or your agent that you have been arrested, plead guilty, or even convicted of a DUI.
The only way an insurance company is notified of an alcohol related offense is when they run a Motor Vehicle Report, perhaps at renewal, every two to three years, or on a random basis. But most often, if you tell them.
“In fact, next to getting that DUI in the first place, telling your agent about it is the most costly mistake you could make,” Beaulieu maintains, and we confirmed that by phoning insurance agents around the country, repeatedly hearing:
“The first call we make after a customer tells us he got picked up for a DUI is to the insurance carrier. The rate increases at renewal — often double or triple — are slightly related to increased risk. Rates are raised because the company can — making a DUI tremendously profitable for agents and the carriers.”
Beaulieu observes that, “Many attorneys who specialize in DUI defense instruct their clients to notify their agent, in order to obtain the SR 22 Certificate of Insurance which DMV requires to be filed, showing that the client has auto insurance.”
But there is a better way — of which lawyers are now just becoming aware.
Less costly way to obtain the SR-22
The SR-22 Certificate of Insurance can be issued by your own insurance company, but then they know about the DUI.
But, what if you could legally obtain that certificate from a different insurance company that specializes in these types of policies, while keeping your own insurance in force? That way, you as an individual driver would be covered by one small policy — for the state’s required limits — in addition to your existing coverage, for the amounts of insurance you’ve paid for.
“That’s what SR-22 insurance accomplishes,”Beaulieu explained recently to a group of lawyers who specialize in DUI defense. The staff of You and the Law was invited to attend this seminar — which received approval of the State Bar of California as Continuing Education credits.
We were simply blown away by the fact that none of these experienced trial lawyers had ever heard of this perfectly legal way of helping their clients drive insured and saving a great deal of money. The reason, we learned, is that this type of insurance product has been on the market only about six years and very few agents sell it.
How does it work? What are the savings?
“The cost is from $250 to $750 a year, and means that you now have two different policies for different things,” Beaulieu explained.
“SR-22 covers just you for liability, not the car you are driving, and to satisfy the DMV, must remain in force for the typical three years of probation. Realizing that the average yearly increase in insurance premium for a DUI is over $2,500, the longer your primary insurance does not know about the DUI, that money stays in your pocket.
“The other plus is that what you save enables you to keep that primarily policy active,” Beaulieu concludes.
Breathe-Easy Insurance Solutions is not the only insurance brokerage which offers this type of insurance, but we are impressed with their level of knowledge and customer service.
We suggest searching online, “SR-22 Insurance” to become better informed and locate agencies which also offer this product.