With impaired driving convictions carrying license suspensions in most jurisdictions in Canada, obtaining car insurance coverage isn’t an immediate priority for a guilty driver. It will be a while before they’re in a legal position behind the wheel of a vehicle. When they are, costs of ownership for that next vehicle will be much higher due to their designation as a high risk driver.
Will a regular insurance company insure a convicted DUI offender?
If the conviction occurred less than three years ago, probably not.
Statistically, drivers with one DUI conviction are more likely to have accidents and additional convictions. Research suggests the chances are 3 in 10 that a DUI driver repeats within a decade.
Because of numbers like this, most insurance companies across the country build rules into their operations that they will not offer policies to drivers with convictions in the past three years. Only after that waiting period will they consider re-insuring.
Note that, in many jurisdictions, insurance companies set and declare their operating rules. In Ontario, for example, the Financial Services Commission approves these rules and the company must abide by them until subsequent rules get approval.
For the driver with an impaired conviction, this means that a company with the three-year rule on its books cannot deny coverage using that rule if the conviction is four years’ past. Drivers have the right to know why they are denied coverage under a company’s rules.
How does a driver with a DUI conviction get insurance?
Individual insurance companies retain the right to refuse clients based on DUI convictions, as long as they follow their self-declared rules. However, the insurance industry as a whole cannot refuse to cover a driver who is legally permitted to drive. So once a DUI driver has their license reinstated, the insurance industry must offer coverage, even if it’s less than three years since the conviction. It’s not an unusual scenario, since suspensions following first-time convictions are one year in all provinces and territories.
The high risk, DUI-convicted driver belongs to the residual insurance market, drivers and vehicles unable to obtain coverage through the regular auto insurance market. The private insurance industry created an organization called the Facility Association, to which all insurance companies belong and contribute.
The Facility Association doesn’t directly underwrite policies, but instead works with insurance companies and high risk drivers to create special policies outside of individual insurance company rules.
While all drivers, regardless of their history, can find insurance through the Facility Association, it comes at a cost. Drivers may see annual premiums exceeding $10,000 annually after DUI convictions. However, it may be the only alternative until time and trouble-free driving eventually reduce the effects of the conviction.
Note that the four provinces with public insurance plans – Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia – do not participate through the Facility Association. These provinces have their own methods to deal with the residual insurance market.
The regular insurance landscape changes frequently and some insurers specialize in high risk coverage. Drivers with DUI convictions may find companies willing to issue policies with shorter wait times. A quick, easy and anonymous way to search the regular market uses Quote Finder’s car insurance calculator. The calculator issues estimate only if there is a company willing to accept the DUI driver’s record. Choose ‘car insurance’ from the drop-down box at the top of the page.