Jessica Sautter is a Content Writer for CarInsuranceCompanies.com with a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Elementary Education with a Major in Reading and a Minor in Mathematics.

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager

UPDATED: Sep 11, 2020

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Key takeaways...

  • Having third-party auto coverage ensures that you have the protection that safeguards your assets after an accident.
  • If you’re in an accident, the claims adjuster may ask for a police report showing who was cited for what infractions.
  • If you were cited for a DUI at the scene of the accident, it could have an impact on if and when your claim will be paid.
  • The company may have to wait until you’re officially convicted of DUI before denying your first-party claim.
  • If you injure someone in a DUI accident, your third-party coverage will still pay if claims are made against you.

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can significantly impair your driving.

Unfortunately, about 1.5 million drivers are arrested nationwide for a DUI each year.

Even worse, nearly one-third of all traffic-related fatalities were caused by alcohol-impaired drivers. Those two facts are why states are cracking down on penalties given to DUI drivers.

You can’t turn back the hands of time and erase the mistakes that you’ve made. All you can do is change your habits and live life more responsibly.

If your mistake ended in both an arrest and an accident, you need to know what will happen to your auto insurance and how your insurer will handle any claims. Here’s a guide to navigating the claims process after a DUI accident.

If you’ve been convicted of a DUI and need better auto insurance rates, start comparison shopping today by entering your ZIP code above.

Table of Contents

Is an insurance company allowed to deny your claim?

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Just because you buy insurance doesn’t mean that you’re free to do anything that you want. Insurers have the right to safeguard themselves by putting special provisions and exclusions in their contracts.

It’s not common for reputable carriers to deny claims, but it does happen from time to time. Some legitimate reasons your claim could be denied include:

  • A lapse in coverage for failing to submit your premium payments on time
  • Filing a fraudulent or exaggerated claim
  • Filing a claim for damages or expenses when you don’t have the right coverage
  • Filing a claim for damage sustained while you’re driving your car for excluded business trips
  • Upgrading your car and filing a claim for the upgrades when you haven’t updated your coverage
  • Having a DUI accident and filing a claim for first-party medical payment benefits

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Why are you penalized for breaking some laws and not others?

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People make mistakes all the time. You could have a lapse of judgment and leave your car keys on the roof of your car. If that car winds up stolen because of the mistake, the mistake is usually forgiven and the claim will be covered.

Other mistakes behind the wheel are also often overlooked. If you run a stop sign, speed, or make an illegal lane change and then have an accident, you could still receive coverage even though you’ve broken the law.

Breaking the law is always frowned upon, but it doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be paying for your own repairs if you get cited for a driving infraction.

Getting a DUI is a different story. You’re not just rolling through a stop sign when you drive under the influence.

Since you’re showing a reckless disregard for human life, getting a DUI isn’t classified as the same type of offense as speeding.

Why do intoxicated drivers suffer fewer injuries than sober drivers?

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Not many DUI offenders get in their cars intending to hurt people. They’re in such an impaired state that they don’t think about what could happen to others.

If you’re in an accident because of your impairment, passengers in the other vehicle are much more likely to get injured than you are because their body tells them to tense up upon impact.

While it doesn’t seem fair, intoxicated drivers are 65 percent more likely to survive severe injuries because the alcohol acts as a buffer that inhibits the release of cortisol and other stress-related chemicals that can slow healing.

Since the likelihood that sober passengers in either car will be injured, having sufficient coverage is crucial.

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Will your liability coverage pay if you’re liable?

It’s no one else’s fault but your own that you chose to drive while you were impaired. It does seem fair to say that insurers would be justified to deny the claims presented against your policy.

Although, the insurance company denying a claim is not fair to the claimants who were injured because of the policyholder’s negligent decision making.

If an auto insurance company had the right to deny third-party liability claims made against their driver who was charged with DUI, it would defeat the purpose of having mandatory coverage requirements.

Victims who are injured by a drunk driver or who have to deal with a total loss deserve to be compensated. Claims made by a third-party against your bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverage will still be paid.

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Your Insurer Could Hold Others Liable

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Insurance companies don’t want to pay for your illegal acts, but they have to. As long as the collision was not intentional, the insurer is on the hook and may pay up to the limits you’re carrying.

After the limits are paid, the insurer then has the option to hold others negligent depending on the circumstance.

Not just anyone can be held liable for your mistakes. The insurance company would have to prove that someone was serving you alcohol and knowingly let you leave when you had the intention to drive.

Sometimes, insurers can collect from bars and hosts of parties on the grounds of shared responsibility. In this case, the bar’s liability or the host’s homeowner’s insurance will pay.

If you’re injured, will your insurer pay for medical bills?

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Some of your first-party coverage options will have more strict exclusions than your liability coverage. Since liability coverage pays others, there are only so many restrictions that insurers can have.

When it comes to paying you the first-party benefits that you have on your own policy, there’s a lot less leniency.

When you or passengers in your vehicle are injured in an auto accident, you typically would file a claim against either your medical payments coverage on your auto policy or your health insurance.

DUI accidents are typical scenarios. In many states, insurers can deny your health coverage claims if you were the intoxicated driver, leaving you in a bind since you’d have to pay the bills on your own.

Will the company pay to repair your vehicle?

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If you damaged your car while you were driving under the influence, it might not be covered. It depends on your contract and the coverage options that you carry.

When you have collision on your policy, damages that occur while the car is being driven are generally covered, but the fact that you were in the middle of an unlawful act could work against you.

The insurance company could argue that the damage to your own property would not be covered based on some standard contractual theories.

Some drivers will accept the claims denial and go on with life. If you do decide to hire a lawyer, you might find that the insurer is still obligated to pay for collision damages.

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Do companies help defend you in court if you’re charged?

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If you’re accused of a DUI resulting in greater bodily injury or property damage, you’ll have to go through the court process. The court process is completely separate from the claims process you’re dealing with.

If you decide to take the case to trial and hire a lawyer, don’t expect your insurer to help you.

The carrier is obligated to defend you against monetary claims made against you for injuries and damages. This obligatory defense is covered under the supplemental payments section of your policy.

Your insurer won’t pay for the legal defense needed to fight the DUI charge if you were arrested after the accident.

After the dust settles and the claim is closed, you still have to face the music.

Your insurance premiums won’t go up right away, but they will go up when your next renewal comes up. There’s even a chance the carrier will drop you.

Start getting quotes for coverage with a DUI online and find the best rate that you can as a high-risk driver.

Try our FREE online quote tool and compare at least three to four policies to find the best and most affordable auto insurance rates for you. Enter your ZIP code below.