The Bankrate promise
At Bankrate, we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. To help readers understand how insurance affects their finances, we have licensed insurance professionals on staff who have spent a combined 47 years in the auto, home and life insurance industries. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation of . Our content is backed by Coverage.com, LLC, a licensed entity (NPN: 19966249). For more information, please see our .
Having your driver’s license suspended may lead to several stressful consequences, including potential rate hikes or even a policy cancellation from your insurance company. However, you may still be able to get the coverage you need while working to get your license reinstated.
Reasons why your license may be suspended
A suspension of a driver’s license results in the temporary withdrawal of your privilege to drive. Reasons for license suspension may vary by state, but some of the most common include:
- Driving under the influence (DUI) or while intoxicated (DWI)
- Reckless driving
- At-fault accidents
- Unpaid traffic tickets
- Accumulation of a high level of driver’s license points
- Driving without insurance
- Lapse in auto insurance coverage or driving without insurance
- Medical complications such as epilepsy, cognitive decline or consciousness disorders.
Application of different state laws and the policies of the driver’s current insurer will establish the requirements that must be met for license reinstatement, as well as whether or not higher premiums will be paid.
Consequences of a suspended license
Unlike revocation, which is permanent, you may be able to drive with a suspension after complying with certain insurance requirements; these vary from state to state.
The most common insurance requirements that a suspended driver must comply with are similar in most states. Some examples of these requirements include:
- SR-22 requirements: An SR-22, often referred to as a certificate of financial responsibility, is not itself an insurance policy. It is a form that is typically filed with your state by your insurance company indicating that you are complying with the state’s minimum auto liability insurance requirements. If your license is suspended, you may need to file an SR-22. Not all carriers offer SR-22 filing, so you may need to switch to a carrier that provides this service.
- FR-44 requirements: Similar to an SR-22, an FR-44 form is required in only some states to demonstrate that you have secured and carry auto insurance with higher liability limits than those required by the state. An FR-44 may be required with suspensions involving alcohol or drugs and typically has much greater minimum liability requirements.
- Insurance cancellation and nonrenewal: Though state laws vary, most policies do not permit auto insurers to cancel insurance unless there has been fraud or non-payment of premiums. On the other hand, auto insurers are usually permitted to refuse to renew coverage after a suspension. Nonrenewal does not have the same strict criteria as cancellation, so even if your policy is not canceled, your carrier may refuse to renew your policy when the term ends.
My license is suspended. Can I still get insurance?
A suspended license does not necessarily mean that a driver can not obtain insurance. Although you may not be able to drive, you will likely still need to maintain insurance on your vehicle to avoid a lapse in coverage. However, it may be more difficult to find insurance, especially at an affordable rate.
Seek non-standard providers
When you have a hardship or other form of restricted license, you will typically be considered to be a high-risk driver by most insurers. If your current insurance policy is canceled or nonrenewed, you may need to seek coverage from a high-risk insurance company. There are a number of auto insurance companies known for extending coverage to high-risk drivers. These may be worth exploring if you’re having difficulty finding coverage or need a carrier that will file an SR-22:
- The General — This carrier is available in all 50 states and offers SR-22 filing.
- Geico — Although a well-known national carrier that deals with high-risk drivers, options may be limited depending on the reasons for license suspension.
- State Farm — Voted our 2023 Bankrate Award winner for Best Car Insurance Company for High-Risk Drivers.
- Bristol West — Offers coverage options for high-risk drivers, including SR-22 and FR-44 filing.
Will a license suspension increase my car insurance rates?
Car insurance companies calculate a driver’s rates based on the likelihood that the driver will file a claim. Many of the reasons for license suspension may classify you as a high-risk driver and increase your rates accordingly.
How much and for how long a license suspension impacts your insurance may depend on a few different factors, including the reason your license was suspended in the first place, the carrier you choose, and your personal rating factors. For example, you will likely see a more significant rate increase for a suspension following multiple DUI convictions compared to a suspension due to medical reasons.
How to get cheap car insurance with a suspended license
Obtaining cheap auto coverage with a suspended license may require more research and effort, but many general cost-saving strategies still apply. You’ll likely want to start by comparing quotes from multiple companies to see which might give you the lowest rates for your circumstances.
- Improve your credit score: Most states allow car insurance companies to consider your credit history when determining rates. Improving your credit score by paying bills on time and keeping your credit utilization ratio low may help you get lower rates.
- Maintain a clean driving record: Even if you have a few marks on your driving record, practicing safe habits and avoiding tickets and accidents may help you find low rates moving forward. Most insurance companies only consider speeding tickets and accidents for three to five years when determining rates.
- Look for discounts: As your circumstances change, you may be eligible for more car insurance discounts. If you’re exploring new carriers after a license suspension, you may also want to look for potential discounts with each option. Some common options include bundling discounts, paid-in-full discounts, defensive driving course savings and professional affiliation discounts.
- Explore a telematics program: Telematics programs track your driving in real-time and adjust your premium based on demonstrated driving habits. Enrolling in a telematics program may encourage you to practice safer driving and could save you money. Note that some companies may increase your rates if you demonstrate unsafe driving practices.
- Adjust your coverage selections: Reducing your car insurance coverage types and limits will likely reduce your premium. If your license is suspended and nobody is driving your vehicle, you could consider maintaining just comprehensive coverage while your car is in storage.
- Adjust your deductibles: If you are still having difficulty affording car insurance, you could consider raising your deductibles, which would likely decrease your premium. However, most insurance experts recommend keeping your deductibles at a rate low enough that you could comfortably pay them out of pocket.
Frequently asked questions
Depending on the cause of your suspension, you will likely see your car insurance rates increase even after your license is reinstated. Even though you can drive legally, the insurance company will still likely view you as riskier to insure if the suspension was the result of unsafe driving habits or driving without insurance. For example, if your license is suspended due to multiple speeding tickets, you will likely see surcharged rates for three to five years following the incidents, even if your license is reinstated.
The process of reinstating your license will likely depend on the reason for license suspension. The best way to navigate reinstatement is likely to contact your state’s department of motor vehicles.
Criteria for license suspension vary by state law, but in many states, your license may be suspended for driving a vehicle registered in your name without meeting the state’s minimum insurance requirements. States where you can potentially have your license suspended for driving without insurance include California, New York, Florida and many more.