How Can a DUI Affect My Vehicle Insurance Coverage in Florida?
St. Petersburg / Clearwater / Pinellas DUI Attorneys – DHSMV Form FR-44 Requirements
The financial demands that result from a conviction of driving under the influence may not be limited to the paying of DHSMV administrative fees, DUI school, court costs, and the costs of legal representation. Beyond these expenses, individuals convicted of DUI can in most cases, expect to have their insurance coverage “canceled” by their insurance company. As a result, they may be required to seek coverage through a new insurance company at dramatically increased rates. An agent for a national insurance company recently advised that insured drivers who have been convicted of a DUI but have otherwise relatively clean driving records can expect to see fee increases of $2,000 per year or more through their new insurer. For those drivers convicted of DUI who have a significant past history of traffic offenses, the high risk auto insurance premium can be anticipated to be much greater.
Can my insurance company cancel my policy entirely if I’m convicted of a DUI?
Yes, insurance companies doing business in Florida have the statutory right to cancel your policy if you’re convicted of driving under the influence. Section 627.728 of the Florida Statutes states that an insurer can cancel a policy after providing proper notice if the driver’s license or motor vehicle registration of the insured individual has been suspended or revoked during the policy’s coverage period.
If my license has been suspended or revoked for a DUI, how long will I have before my insurance coverage can be cancelled?
Florida Statutes Section 627.728 requires that your insurance company provide you with written notice at least 45 days before your policy is canceled. Because of this, the vast majority of insurance companies provide their customers with exactly 45 days notice before terminating their policies. Please note that this notice requirement only applies to cancellations associated with suspensions or revocations of drivers licenses and vehicle registrations. Cancellations based on non payment of premiums require only a ten day notice period.
What should I do if my insurance company sends me notice of their intended cancelation of my policy following a DUI conviction?
If your insurance company has canceled your coverage following a DUI conviction, you will have to “shop around” and look for companies willing to insure drivers that have DUI convictions reflected on their driving records. Some nationally-recognized insurance companies such as Progressive Insurance have a reputation for routinely offering insurance coverage to drivers with DUI convictions. However, there are other auto insurance companies with strict guidelines that prohibit the issuance of insurance policies under these circumstances.
What if I have multiple convictions for DUI and experience difficulty in finding an insurance company that will accept me?
The legislatures of Florida, Hawaii, Michigan and Missouri have all issued government required “pooling” mechanisms for “High Risk” drivers to enable all drivers to secure insurance coverage, despite their checkered driving record. Typically, a person seeking insurance through the “high risk pool,” must have, within the past sixty days, been declined an auto insurance policy or have been offered an insurance policy at a rate higher than the high risk pool premium being offered.
What kind of insurance rates can I expect to pay following a DUI conviction?
In 2007, the Florida legislature passed Section 324.023 of the Florida Statutes, which requires individuals convicted of DUI to provide proof of “increased financial responsibility” in the form of liability insurance for bodily injury or death. Specifically, the law requires that those individuals convicted of DUI have the following coverage:
$100,000 covering bodily injury to or death of one person;
$300,000 for similar death or injury liability for two or more persons in a single crash; and,
$50,000 to cover property damage resulting from any one crash.
$350,000 (combined single limit policy)
This “300/100/50” requirement, along with the negative ramifications of the DUI conviction provide the insurance company with an ample rationale to raise your rates. They will justify the premium increase by saying that they are now being required to extend greater coverage to a driver more at risk.
What is an FR-44 Form?
In order to have your Florida driver’s license reinstated, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles requires you to submit verification of your increased automobile and liability insurance (the 300/100/50 requirement) mentioned above. Proof of this increased insurance coverage must be provided through the Florida Uniform Financial Responsibility Certificate, or commonly know as the “FR-44 form.” DHSMV requires individuals submit the “FR-44” form to the department’s main office in Tallahassee. See December 19, 2007 DHSMV correspondence from Deborah Todd, Chief, DHSMV Bureau of Financial Responsibilty
Will DHSMV send me a letter requesting the FR-44 form?
In most cases, if the Pinellas County Clerk of Court has done their job in forwarding a transmittal to the DHSMV informing them of your DUI conviction, DHSMV will send you a letter requiring you to send the FR-44 form within thirty days of the date contained on the correspondence.
Won’t my insurance company cancel me if I inform them about my DUI conviction or request an FR-44 form?
Generally yes, but not always. Insurance companies clearly have discretion to cancel policies of customers that have had their licenses suspended or revoked. However, because of the perceived greater risk and increased coverage for individuals convicted of alcohol-related driving offenses, most insurance companies may not want to continue coverage. Of course, there are always exceptions, and some insurance companies will retain individual policyholders if they are longstanding customers and their insurance agent personally “vouches” for them. Although it might be seen as unfair, most insurance companies view a policyholder’s need for an FR-44 as a “red flag” that the driver was convicted of a DUI and could therefore be a potential high-risk liability to the company.
How long can I be expected to be penalized with increased insurance premiums because of my DUI conviction?
As required by Florida law, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles requires individuals convicted of driving under the influence to maintain an FR-44 form and its increased coverage for a period of at least three years. However, many insurance companies will continue to charge higher premiums for a five year period following the conviction date.
What if I don’t inform my current insurer about my DUI Conviction… Will they discover the information on their own?
Don’t be convinced that you can avoid cancellation by not telling your insurance company about your DUI related suspension or revocation. Although insurance companies don’t typically routinely search their customer’s driving records, an agent from a national insurance company related that the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles periodically sends written requests to insurance companies asking them to verify that a particular insured person is complying with the higher coverage requirements mandated by Florida Statute 324.023. Thus, from a practical perspective, your insurer could be inadvertantly placed on notice of your DUI conviction through a request for coverage confirmation by DHSMV.
Like any other moving traffic violation, a “reckless driving” conviction could cause an increase in the premium you pay for auto insurannce coverage. However, a reckless driving conviction does not carry nearly the same negative stigma and significant financial ramifications associated with a DUI conviction. Likewise, having your DUI charge reduced to a reckless driving offense would eliminate the need to carry Florida mandated increased insurance coverage. It would also eliminate the need to file an FR-44 form. The bottom line? Side-stepping a DUI conviction can avoid many of the difficulties associated with increased insurance premiums or outright cancellation.
Arrested for DUI in Pinellas County? We Can Help!
At the Law Offices of Russo Pelletier & Sullivan, we represent clients charged with DUI offenses arising out of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Palm Harbor, Largo, St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island, Gulfport, Pasadena, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores, Redington Shores, Madeira Beach and Belleair. We are former state prosecutors and attorneys who are breath test operators. You can always count on our lawyers to closely scrutinize all of the evidence in your case.
We understand that a DUI arrest is a stressful situation. We encourage you to watch our video to learn about how our training in field sobriety testing and breath testing could help. We can properly evaluate your Pinellas County DUI case and discuss efforts to reinstate your driving privilege. Some of our clients present DUI cases that are good candidates to have the charge reduced from DUI to reckless driving. Other times, where the evidence may be stacked against the client, we can show the client how “Getting a Head Start” through early preparation by attendance at DUI School & accomplishing other tasks before court can save them time and money.
Free Consultations: (727) 578-0303
For All Other Criminal Defense Matters: www.defensehelp.com
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