How does a felony affect your car insurance?

Insurance companies don’t run a criminal background check, but some felonies and misdemeanors, like a DUI, also show up on your driving record and affect your insurance rates.

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By

Rachael Brennan

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

Published|4 min read

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There are lots of things that impact your car insurance rates, from your credit score to points on your license, but some people may be surprised that having a criminal record, even a felony, doesn’t necessarily affect how much you pay for car insurance

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A driving-related felony, however, is a different story. Anything that shows up on your MVR (motor vehicle record) can affect your car insurance, or even make it hard for you to find affordable car insurance at all.

Key takeaways

  • Felonies and misdemeanors can affect your car insurance only if they impact your driving record. 

  • There are several misdemeanors that will show up on a driving record, including a first DUI, reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, and driving without insurance.

  • Driving-related felonies may impact your insurance rates, including vehicular homicide or manslaughter, repeat DUIs, a hit-and-run, or insurance fraud.

  • Drivers with a DUI or a hit-and-run on their record may need to purchase a high-risk auto insurance policy instead of standard coverage.

Does a felony affect your car insurance?

Felonies can affect your car insurance if they also impact your driving record. Offenses like robbery and assault can both earn you a felony charge, but your car insurance company isn’t concerned about those things. 

However, if you’re found guilty of vehicular homicide or insurance fraud, you can expect to pay significantly more for car insurance (if you can find a company that will insure you at all.) That’s because anything driving-related will show up on your driving record, which auto insurance companies check when figuring out what your car insurance rates will be. 

A driving-related felony may also mean you need your car insurance company to file an SR-22 or FR-44 form on your behalf, which nearly always means higher rates. 

There are several driving-related felonies that may impact your insurance rates when you go to apply for coverage, including: 

  • Vehicular homicide/manslaughter

  • A second or third DUI/DWI (in most states)

  • Hit-and-run

  • Insurance fraud

Every state has different laws, so some offenses may be a felony in one state and not in another. For example, all DUIs are considered misdemeanors in Maryland, no matter how many you get, but a third DUI (or beyond) is considered a felony in Louisiana. [1]  

Does a misdemeanor affect your car insurance?

It can, depending on the misdemeanor. Some misdemeanors, like getting your first DUI or driving without insurance, are reported on both your driving record and your criminal record. Insurance companies do care about misdemeanors that increase your risk behind the wheel, so both of those would lead to higher car insurance rates.

But other misdemeanors don’t matter to your insurance company at all. For example, your insurance company doesn’t know (or care) if you were in possession of a controlled substance or if you got caught spray painting graffiti on someone else’s property. 

As long as your misdemeanor doesn’t make you more likely to file a claim, your insurance company isn’t interested.

There are several misdemeanors that show up on your driving record and may affect your car insurance rates, including:

  • A first DUI/DWI

  • Reckless driving

  • Driving with a suspended license

  • Driving without insurance

It is important to remember that laws vary from one state to the next, so the same infraction may be considered more serious in one state than it is in another.

Do insurance companies check criminal records?

No, insurance companies aren’t checking criminal record information when setting insurance rates or deciding whether or not to offer coverage to a specific person. 

However, there are some felonies and misdemeanors, like a DUI or reckless driving, that show up in both your criminal record and your driving history. Anything that appears on your MVR can have an impact on your rates — sometimes to the tune of hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year.

Where to buy car insurance with a criminal record

Some of the largest insurance companies, like GEICO, Progressive, and Allstate, will likely offer coverage for high-risk drivers, even if you have a driving-related felony on your record, though at much higher rates than drivers with a clean driving record. 

The chart below shows average rates for some common misdemeanors and felonies at five of the top car insurance companies in the country:

CompanyDriving with a suspended licenseDriving with an open containerDriving with expired registrationDUIHit and runRacingReckless driving
Allstate$2,964$2,367$2,329$3,047$2,975$2,995$2,904
GEICO$2,184$2,158$1,384$3,044$2,852$2,735$2,586
Progressive$2,692$2,295$2,473$2,273$2,707$2,736$2,673
State Farm$1,607$1,412$1,334$1,652$1,556$1,595$1,548
USAA$1,965$1,614$1,320$2,103$2,161$2,058$1,579

If you aren’t able to purchase a policy through one of the major car insurance companies, there are companies that sell policies specifically for high-risk drivers. Additionally, some states have a high-risk insurance pool designed to provide minimum levels of coverage for drivers who can’t get insurance anywhere else.

→ Read for more options if you can’t afford car insurance

How does high-risk auto insurance work for felons?

Insurance companies aren’t usually concerned about your criminal record — unless your criminal record is related to your driving history. Drivers with a DUI or a hit-and-run on their record may find themselves unable to get traditional car insurance, which means they may need to purchase a high-risk auto insurance policy.

High-risk coverage, also referred to as non-standard car insurance, is car insurance for people whose driving profiles put them into a high-risk category. High-risk insurance is usually significantly more expensive than a traditional policy and it may come with coverage restrictions, such as limits on who is allowed to drive your car.

Frequently asked questions

Do insurance companies check police reports?

No, insurance companies aren’t checking police reports or criminal records for their customers. However, insurance companies do check your driving record, which has information about some criminal activities, like traffic violations and DUIs, that they use to help set your rates.

Is an arrest the same as a conviction?

No, an arrest is not the same as a conviction. A person who is suspected of committing a crime can be arrested, but that doesn’t mean they are guilty and there may or may not be a record of their arrest that can be accessed later. Someone who is convicted of a crime has been found guilty in a court of law and now has a criminal record.

Can a convicted felon sell insurance?

This depends on the felony. Federal law prevents people who are convicted of felonies involving breach of trust and dishonesty from selling insurance. However, if your felony is not related to financial dishonesty, it likely won’t impact your ability to sell insurance.

Does having a felony affect your credit score?

No, having a felony doesn’t impact your credit score. That said, there are many things that do impact your credit score that may be associated with a felony conviction. For example, people who are incarcerated for a felony are more likely to default on loans, which will cause your credit score to go down.

Methodology

Policygenius has analyzed car insurance rates provided by Quadrant Information Services for every ZIP code in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. 

For full coverage policies, the following coverage limits were used:

  • Bodily injury liability: 50/100

  • Property damage liability: $50,000

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist: 50/100

  • Comprehensive: $500 deductible

  • Collision: $500 deductible

In some cases, additional coverages were added where required by the state or insurer.

Rates for overall average rate, rates by ZIP code, and cheapest companies determined using averages for single drivers age 30, 35, and 45. Our sample vehicle was a 2017 Toyota Camry LE driven 10,000 miles per year.

Rates for driving violations and “poor” credit were determined using average rates for a single male 30-year-old driver with a credit score under 578.

Some carriers may be represented by affiliates or subsidiaries. Rates provided are a sample of insurance costs. Your actual quotes may differ.