Being arrested for DUI causes a significant amount of DUI penalties; from legal consequences including fines, costs, license suspension, probation, or even jail time, to personal and emotional consequences involving negative effects on the relationships with family and friends. Many also understand that their auto insurance may also be affected by a DUI, but to what extent? What about life insurance or health insurance eligibility and premiums, are they affected? Experienced PA DUI lawyers can advise clients on insurance issues as they relate to a DUI offense. The following is some insight into the insurance issues that are sometimes presented as a result of a DUI in PA.
PA DUI and Health Insurance
While every health insurance plan has its own nuances, health insurance claims made as a result of a DUI are typically not affected due to the fact that the claim was DUI related. That being said, there previously were many factors that went into determining the eligibility of someone for health insurance coverage, specifically if an individual has a history of alcohol abuse, including prior DUI offenses. Under such circumstances health insurance coverage could have been denied. However, since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, such history of alcohol abuse is deemed to be a “preexisting condition” and is no longer allowed to be considered when determining the eligibility for health care coverage.
PA DUI and Life Insurance
Life insurance, many times an individual’s largest asset, may also be affected by a DUI. Existing life insurance policies are generally safe, meaning that even if an insured is arrested for DUI their premiums do not change and the benefits will still be paid even if the insured died resulting from a DUI accident they caused.
However, when first submitting an application to be approved for life insurance insurance companies want to know whether an individual has previously been arrested for DUI. Many reputable life insurance companies include a unique rating for individuals with DUIs known as a “flat extra.” This means that, while the insurance company may approve an individual for coverage, the insurance company will charge that individual a set extra amount per thousand dollars of life insurance he or she purchases.
For example, if an individual receives a DUI in Pennsylvania and then applies for $500,000.00 in life insurance, the insurance company may say, “ok, you are approved for coverage, but due to your DUI, we are going to require that you pay a $2.00 flat fee extra on the policy.” This means that since the individual purchased $500,000 in insurance, $2.00 would be added for each $1,000.00 purchased, totaling a $1,000.00 “flat extra.” This amount is typically evenly distributed over their monthly premiums, thus increasing their monthly amount paid by approximately $83.00.
This “flat extra” does not typically last forever (a few years at the most), but does depend on the severity of the DUI charge. Once an individual has a “period of stability” (a time period with no DUI offenses), this extra fee can be removed, but again, every company is different.
PA DUI and Auto Insurance
The most commonly known fact about having a DUI on an individual’s driving record is that it often impacts auto insurance premiums. However, to what extent? Experienced PA DUI lawyers commonly explain the following:
- If buying a new policy or are looking to renew a policy, auto insurance companies generally request and review an applicant’s driving record before insurance rates are set. While each case is viewed differently by the insurance company, an individual with a DUI conviction is typically labeled as “higher risk” and are charged accordingly.
- If an individual is already a policy holder and receives a DUI, he or she will have to file an SR-22 vehicle liability insurance document with the PA Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or their auto insurance company does this automatically. An SR-22 is a statement of financial responsibility that serves as proof that an individual has the proper amount of insurance that PA requires and is required to reinstate his or her driving privileges following an uninsured car accident or conviction of another traffic-related offense, such as a DUI. Having an SR-22 often puts an individual in the “higher risk” category with auto insurance companies, which means rates could increase and remain higher several years after receiving a DUI.
DUI Lawyers | The Martin Law Firm
Experienced DUI lawyers at The Martin Law Firm frequently explain to first-time DUI offenders not only the legal ramifications of their DUI, but the above-discussed collateral affects, as well. These are important considerations and it is in your best interest to speak with skilled DUI lawyers regarding any DUI offense in Pennsylvania. For more information on Pennsylvania DUI, visit our DUI Law Firm Blog or contact The Martin Law Firm at 215-646-3980.