Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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In a nutshell...

  • Car insurance policies may or may not cover accidents related to drunk driving
  • If you were the victim of a drunk driving accident, you may be able to sue if the other driver’s insurance company refuses to pay
  • Your insurance carrier may significantly increase your car insurance rates or cancel your coverage if you were the impaired driver
  • If you need coverage after a DUI, you can use a comparison tool to find a high-risk policy

If you’ve been involved in a drunk driving accident, you may be wondering if insurance will cover the damages and medical bills.

The answer depends on whether you were the impaired driver and the specifics of your insurance policy.

Make sure you have the coverage you need at a price you can afford. Comparing car insurance quotes has never been easier.

Just enter your zip code into our free rate tool above to get started for free.

Filing a Claim After a Drunk Driving Accident

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If you want your car repairs covered by an insurance company, you have to file a claim, regardless of whether one of the drivers was impaired.

The following lists a series of steps that should start directly after your car impacts another vehicle:

  • Stay at the Scene – Even if your car is still drivable after the accident, you have to stay at the scene until all the needed information is received and a police report has been filed.
  • Police and Medical Personnel – Call 911 and tell them you have just had an accident and the accident’s location. If anyone needs medical attention, tell the 911 operator that you need an ambulance.
  • Get the Other Driver’s Information – If the other driver is cooperative and reasonably uninjured, try to trade insurance and contact information. If they refuse, it can be retrieved later by getting a copy of the police report.
  • Take Pictures – If you are able, take pictures of the accident scene and the damage to your vehicle with your cell phone’s camera. You will need to give these images to your insurance company when you file a claim.
  • Make Sure a Police Report Is Filed – Once the police arrive, they will ask you and the other driver several questions. It is in your best interest to answer all the questions truthfully. The police may even interrogate anyone who may have seen the accident.
  • Tickets – If you or the other driver was impaired at the time of the accident, that driver may receive a ticket and/or be arrested for drunk driving. This information should be available in the police report, but if you notice the other driver being arrested and/or receiving a ticket, you should tell your insurance company when you file your claim.
  • Call Your Insurance Company – Once you are in a safe location, call your insurance company to report the accident and file a claim.
  • Wait for a Claim’s Determination – After you file your claim, the insurance company will investigate the accident to determine who was at fault and if they or the other insurance company will pay for any damages and medical bills.
  • If Your Claim Is Denied – If you are the impaired driver and your car insurance claim is denied, you may be able to appeal. If you are the non-impaired driver and the other insurance company refuses to pay for the damages, you may be able to sue.
  • If Your Claim Is Approved – If your car insurance claim is approved, the car insurance company will pay for property damage and medical bills.

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If You Were Not the Impaired Driver During the Accident

If you were not the impaired driver during the drunk driving accident, the drunk driver’s insurance policy should cover your medical bills and car repairs or the replacement of your vehicle.

If the drunk driver’s insurance company refuses to pay, you can sue the insurance company and the drunk driver for damages in civil court.

  • No-fault States – No-fault states limit your ability to sue drunk drivers. In general, these states require that the accident cost a certain amount of money before the civil lawsuit can proceed.
  • Negligence States – Negligence states do not set a monetary threshold before the drunk driver can be sued. You can sue the impaired driver regardless of the expenses incurred during the accident.

Your ability to sue may be dependent on the insurance laws in your state.

If You Were Determined to Be At-Fault for the Drunk Driving Accident

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If you were drunk at the time of a car accident, you could be subjected to civil and criminal penalties as well as higher future insurance rates.

The legal threshold for driving drunk is having a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08, and many states increase the penalties for higher BAC levels.

Here is a list of penalties that comes with drunk driving:

  • You Could Be Arrested and Your Car Could Be Impounded – Many states call for the immediate immobilization or impoundment of vehicles driven by drunk drivers.
  • You Could Go to Jail – If you are found to be under the influence of alcohol via a breathalyzer test or a field sobriety test, your next stop may be jail.
  • You Could Have Your Driver’s License Suspended – If you are convicted of drunk driving, your driver’s license could be suspended to a certain amount of time.
  • Your Car Insurance Claim Could Be Denied – If you file a claim with your insurance company and you are convicted of driving while drunk, your insurance company may deny your claim due to a clause in the policy that excludes damage caused by intentional conduct.
  • Your Insurance Policy May Be Canceled – After your drunk driving accident, your insurance carrier may determine that you are too high of a risk to keep insuring and cancel your insurance policy.

After a Drunk Driving Accident, You May Be Declared a High-Risk Driver

High-risk drivers are drivers that are considered more at-risk for getting into a car accident than the average driver.

High-risk drivers get speeding tickets, they fail to yield, they run stop signs and red lights, and they may be under the influence of alcohol while they are driving.

If you were convicted of driving while drunk, there is a good chance you will be reclassified as a high-risk driver.

Your insurance rates will dramatically increase. Depending on your insurance carrier and your policy, you could see your rates triple or quadruple, depending on the severity of the accident and the injuries sustained.

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Getting Car Insurance After a Drunk Driving Accident

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Regardless of whether your car insurance policy’s rates tripled or your insurance policy was canceled, you will still need to maintain coverage on your vehicle.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to mitigate the premium increases, including dropping your full coverage for a liability-only car insurance policy and using the services of a car insurance comparison tool.

Auto insurance comparison tools allow you to receive all of the available car insurance policies in your area, even policies for high-risk drivers who have been convicted of a previous DUI or DWI.

Comparison tools are also non-partial.

You will receive policy quotes for more than one insurance company so that you can find an auto insurance policy that meets your needs while still remaining budget friendly, and once you find the policy, you can usually purchase it directly online.

Compare car insurance quotes today by entering your zip code below!