Will a criminal record affect my auto insurance?

A criminal background check may negatively impact your car insurance. Finding good rates on auto insurance with a criminal record is not easy. Read on to learn more about your options.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Jun 7, 2022

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Things to Remember

  • Insurance companies conduct credit and criminal background checks on applicants
  • Criminal records give insurance companies a look into an individual’s history beyond what a driving record presents
  • People with felonies often pay higher insurance rates than people with clean criminal records

It is common for insurance companies, including GEICO, to look into the personal history of insurance applicants, and a criminal background check could negatively affect your insurance rates. A criminal record can potentially impact your ability to land the job you want, or it could affect your marriage and lifestyle. 

Unfortunately, auto insurance with a criminal record is also affected. It can impact how an insurance company sees you in terms of risk, leading to higher rates. It is still possible to find affordable car insurance, but cheap high-risk auto insurance isn’t common, and it will take a little more effort to find.

Getting Auto Insurance With a Criminal Record

If you have a criminal record, you should know that auto insurance companies do check police records. Several types of criminal background checks can be done. An insurance company may choose to run a criminal county or federal criminal background check. A company will also verify an applicant’s motor vehicle report and run a credit check. While you may consider this personal information and want limited use of your criminal record, insurance companies must determine how much of a risk you present as a driver. A credit check shows financial responsibility, and a motor vehicle report shows prior accidents and violations.

From a criminal record, an insurance company can review felony charges and serious situations involving driving under the influence. A DUI charge on your record will create a significant rate hike, as evidenced by the following table of rates.

Company Clean Record RateOne DUITotal Increase
American Family$2,693.61$4,330.24$1,636.63
Liberty Mutual$4,774.30$7,613.48$2,839.18
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The greater your number of DUI violations, the higher your insurance rates climb. Finding the best auto insurance for drivers with a DUI will take some effort. Criminal traffic offenses also impact the cost of auto insurance. 

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How long does a criminal record affect car insurance rates?

When an insurance company checks your history, such as a GEICO criminal record check, issues with DUIs, reckless driving, or hit-and-run charges will be brought to light. Though some traffic violations and charges drop off a driving record after three to five years of the occurrence, this isn’t the case with a criminal record. These stay for a lot longer, and charges that never resulted in conviction can be included.

Felony convictions can last for years without expunction or nondisclosure requirements on a DUI conviction. Classifications among misdemeanors, unclassified, felonies, or repeat offenses can stay on a record from five years up to a lifetime.

Car insurance companies follow a standard look-back period on a driving record, which is generally between three to five years. Speeding tickets and other violations tend to roll off the record during this time, but criminal charges are discovered through the criminal background check.

If you have served your sentence for a crime, you could petition to have your record expunged. Though the laws vary across the nation, the end result of an expungement is the court wiping your record clean.

What is a criminal charge?

There is a difference between being charged with a crime and being convicted of a crime. These differences will also impact the cost of car insurance. If a criminal proceeding takes place, you can expect the following:

  • To be charged with a crime
  • To be arrested for the charges issued
  • To face possible conviction from a jury or judge

A criminal record will show court hearings, even if you are charged but not convicted of DUI. Each company places a different weight on DUI charges and convictions. Still, the idea is that a previous situation involving risky driving behaviors can lead to you needing to purchase high-risk insurance.

What is a high-risk insurance rate?

Insurance companies assess a potential insured’s risk when processing an application. Those with higher risks are assumed to cost the insurance company more money than the average, safe driver. As a response to this risk, insurance is more costly for those who have engaged in irresponsible driving behaviors or have a record of instability.

For some individuals with several incidents on their criminal or driving records, an insurance company may deny coverage completely. These individuals could even be specifically listed on a policy as uninsured.

Unfortunately, your criminal record could impact more than just your car insurance rate. If you share a policy with a spouse, parent, or another individual, the rate may increase for the policyholder. In geographic regions with high crime rates, you could face a more expensive insurance rate because the insurer is trying to mitigate the general risks of the location despite your innocence or participation.

Are there multiple auto insurance options for high-risk or banned drivers?

Some insurance companies specialize in offering car insurance to drivers who are considered high risk. Reading through car insurance company reviews will help you find the best auto insurance companies for high-risk drivers and understand what you can get for your money, but you should expect to pay much more than the average insured.

If your criminal record or driving record has led to the suspension of your license, you may have a harder time getting insurance coverage. While you wouldn’t legally be allowed to drive with a suspended or revoked license, most states require registered vehicles to have car insurance. You may still find coverage available using an approved driver who insures the vehicle.

The Bottom Line on Auto Insurance With a Criminal Record

You may not be able to do anything about your past driving record or your criminal history. However, with time, the situation could improve to where you are eligible for lower car insurance rates.

Practicing safe driving habits, obeying all traffic laws, and avoiding criminal activity can help you avoid high insurance rates and lower your risk as a driver.

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