Due to a traffic violation, ticket, or falling behind on important payments, your driver’s license may be temporarily suspended. You’re now prohibited from driving for a certain period of time until you can take the necessary steps to reinstate your license. At the same time, you may be wondering what will happen to your car insurance coverage if your license were to be suspended.
Finding or continuing insurance with a suspended license isn’t impossible nor overly complex. It’s just a matter of knowing what to do and the order of doing it. Often, the difficulty depends on the circumstances of the license suspension or any accompanying accidents. States require drivers to carry both insurance (minimum amount) and a valid license. Here’s how to stay on top of it in the event your license is suspended.
What would be a reason for license suspension and why?
A suspended license means the driver has been temporarily stripped of their driving privileges. States handle what specific circumstances will determine a license suspension differently depending on their laws.
Here’s what may result in a suspended license consistently throughout the country:
- Driving with no insurance. Regularly operating a vehicle without your state’s minimum required coverage can result in a suspended license. Inversely, it’s illegal to drive with a fake ID as well.
- DUI. Driving under the influence will usually result in temporary license suspension. Repeat offenders may lose it permanently. At the same time, underage drinking and refusing to take a breathalyzer if suspected can also revoke your driver’s license.
- Reckless driving. A history or a couple of instances of reckless driving may give the Department of Motor Vehicles all they need to revoke your license. Fleeing the scene of an accident, speeding, too many traffic violations, and vandalization of property are some reckless things that could get your license suspended.
- Failure to pay. Falling behind on your taxes or child support may result in a loss of driving privileges. Failure to file an accident report to the DMV at the time of one may also result in suspension.
- Special cases. A special case of license suspension will be if you’ve developed or have a medical condition that could impair your ability to drive. Additionally, not showing up to traffic court or your court-ordered driving safety course are also grounds for suspension.
When my license gets suspended, what happens to my car insurance?
Your suspended license will be brought to your insurance company’s attention when they look over your vehicle report at the time your policy is up for renewal.
In most cases, the insurance company will choose not to renew your coverage. If a driver with no license or a suspended one wants to apply, it’s a red flag of high risk to the insurers. They’re not only aware of the legality of driving unlicensed but also the risk of filing a claim for an unlicensed driver. Doing that is incredibly expensive for the insurance company, and most try to avoid it.
When it comes to insurance coverage, for the time being, suspended license holders are better off with a high-risk, local insurance company. Unless there are other people on your car’s policy, your insurance company may opt not to renew.
If a covered, licensed driver were to do something to have their license revoked like a hit and run, then they could expect their insurance rates to rise. The average premium increase for a suspended license would be 67% for up to 3 years. This is assuming that you’ve also received a ticket from the police for the specific traffic violation. That rate increase can go anywhere from $200 to $500 per year for some of the largest insurance companies.
What’s the best kind of car insurance for a driver with a suspended license?
Car insurance may be a requirement in your state, even if you’re not legally a driver anymore. It also plays a role in reinstating your license. There’s a couple of reasons why you should keep your coverage until your license is no longer suspended. As previously mentioned, perhaps your policy includes multiple drivers for a single car. At that point, you would have to be listed as the secondary driver as opposed to the primary. If you choose to put your car in storage for the time being, then comprehensive insurance would cover it should anything happen.
Staying with your policy will also help you avoid coverage gaps. Insurance companies tend to see coverage gaps as a high-risk liability and may be hesitant to sign you on. A lot of suspended drivers qualify for a restricted license which allows essential driving. The way to save on suspended license car insurance is to lower your coverage during a suspension. Since you won’t be driving, you may be able to temporarily drop collision coverage in favor of comprehensive. However, if you rent or lease your car, this may not be an option.
What’s a restricted license, and how does it work?
Sometimes called an occupational, hardship license, a restricted license allows those with a suspended license to drive for essential purposes.
A restricted license covers drives to:
- Work. If your license is suspended and you’re without transport to your job, daily drives to your workplace are covered by a restricted license.
- Doctors’ appointment. Any other medical appointment or check-up is essential and covered by a restricted license.
- Court. While showing up in court to have your license reinstated, you’d be entitled to drive a vehicle under your name there.
- Transport dependents. If you managed a carpool to your workplace and others relied on you for transportation, you may still drive them.
Keep in mind that restricted licenses are entirely based on the case and severity of your suspended license. Your driving record, suspension, and the reason why you would need a work license are all part of the application. Some insurance companies may also be hesitant to cover a driver with a restricted license. Some of the smaller, non-standard insurance companies specialize in that coverage.
How do I get my suspended license reinstated?
The first step to reinstating your suspended license is to pay any associated fees and complete any driving courses that may be required. From there, you must:
- Have a clean driving record. If you have safe driving habits, then now is not the time to change them. A clean driving record shows you’re making the changes to be a safe driver.
- Meet with a Secretary of State hearing officer. Informal hearings are mandatory for drivers with suspended licenses with no injuries or fatalities. Formal hearings are required for more serious cases. These would be the court appearances.
- Have proof of financial responsibility. As required by state law, you’ll need to provide financial responsibility of the minimum required insurance. Insurance companies file what is known as an SR-22 which certifies just that. It may also be called a Certificate of Liability Insurance or an FR-44 in some states.
- Pay a reinstatement fee. The fee you pay to receive your reinstated driver’s license depends on the state you live in. It can range anywhere from $70 to $1,000. It also depends on offense number and severity.
What if I lease or rent my car? Would I still be able to lower my insurance after a license suspension?
Car lenders or the bank dictate which insurance coverage you receive when driving one of their cars. Since you’re not the car’s owner at the time of your license suspension, trying to lessen your coverage may result in more dictated coverage. In that event, you would have to pay that insurance at a much higher premium.
You’d be able to lower your insurance for a car you own. Putting the car in storage and dropping collision insurance while maintaining comprehensive coverage is an example. You’d be paying less, and your vehicle will be covered legally and while it’s not in use.
The idea behind insurance for drivers with suspended driver’s licenses is for them to keep their car affordably covered until they get their license back again.
A final word of advice would be to not cancel your insurance policy in the event of a license suspension. For reasons we’ve just gone over, insurance is a requirement in reinstating a driver’s license. To avoid those high rates, consider placing the car in storage under a comprehensive policy or applying for a restricted license. Meanwhile, take all the steps you just learned to get your license back.