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Among all factors that can impact car insurance, getting a license suspension can have particularly complicated consequences. There are a number of reasons that a driver’s license will be suspended. Specific factors will vary from state to state but the most common reasons include:
- Driving under the influence (DUI) or while intoxicated (DWI)
- Reckless driving
- At-fault accidents
- Unpaid traffic tickets
- Accumulation of a high level of driving points
- Driving without insurance
- Lapses in auto insurance
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
A suspension of a driver’s license results in the temporary withdrawal of your privilege to drive. Unlike revocation, which is permanent, you can 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.
- SR-44 requirements – Similar to an SR-22, the SR-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. Usually, the SR-44 is required with suspensions involving alcohol or drugs and have much greater minimum liability requirements.
- Insurance cancellation and renewal – 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.
Insurance options with a suspended license
A suspended license does not mean that a driver can not drive or obtain insurance. It just means that both of these will be a challenge, and in some states, very difficult. For example, most states permit a driver with a suspended license to get insurance by obtaining a hardship or other form of restricted license. These may involve showing a significant need to drive to and from work or school, assist an ill close family member, or attend important medical appointments. Nevertheless, it is likely that many popular national car insurance companies will not offer insurance in these situations.
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. An option to obtain coverage when you have a suspended license and are driving on a restricted license is to seek assistance from a high-risk insurance provider. In fact, some of these carriers may even reach out to you in these circumstances.
Of course, the ultimate goal will be to take the necessary steps to have the suspension lifted and get your regular driving privileges reinstated. In the meantime, high-risk insurance may be the only option — although it is typically very expensive. There are a number of auto insurance companies more willing to deal with high-risk drivers than others.
- The General — noted for its assistance with high-risk drivers.
- Allstate and Nationwide — These well known, national carriers deal with high-risk drivers but may be more limited based on the reasons for license suspensions.
- Erie — Although limited geographically in availability to drivers, this carrier also has a reputation for dealing with high-risk drivers.
Obtain an SR-22 or FR-44
These two forms and others — such as an Operator’s Certificate — are required by most states to ensure that there will be a source to pay claims against the high-risk driver. Submitting these forms as required in various states is evidence of the suspended driver’s financial responsibility and shows that auto insurance with sufficient limits has been obtained.
It is important to check with your state as minimum coverages required in these instances vary. Although less utilized, pay particular attention in states such as Florida and Virginia, which require FR-44 forms. These typically require limits significantly higher than SR-22s. Many insurers will work with suspended drivers to help sort out more common SR-22 issues. It may be more difficult to find the help with FR-44 forms and it may be helpful to contact your local DMV for additional assistance.
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 the strategies for finding affordable coverage generally work well in these cases also. Above all, obtain a number of quotes for comparison and with each make sure to ask about all of the available options for affordable coverage for high risk drivers. Here are some options:
- Telematics program discounts – Increasingly, some car insurance companies are willing to help you prove to them that you are a safe driver. These devices track your driving habits, with the goal of eliminating hard stops and sudden acceleration, and insurers offer discounts based upon improvement in these areas.
- Personal App to improve driving – Although this won’t directly help with insurance rates, these devices help high risk drivers develop better habits by measuring similar driving patterns to telematics. It is for the drivers own benefit but is always helpful in the long run.
- Defensive driving course discounts – These courses are available throughout the country and many insurers will give discounts based upon successful completion.
- Bundling – Most insurance companies offer a discount for purchasing two or more policies. One of the most common combinations is home and auto.
- Compare providers at renewal – It can always be helpful to compare your current premiums at renewal with other carriers’ offerings. Since your original decision, it is almost certain that some companies have changed their underwriting procedures or introduced additional discounts. This comparison is particularly important for high risk drivers who are working with higher than normal premiums.