How your motor vehicle report (MVR) affects your life insurance rates

Your driving record helps insurance companies assess how much of a risk you are.

Logan Sachon

Logan Sachon

Published October 18, 2018

There are many factors that influence your life insurance rate — your health, your age, the amount of coverage you’re purchasing — but for many people, one of the most surprising is your driving record.

During the underwriting period, when the life insurance company assesses your risk, the insurer will look at your driving record to see if you’re a risky driver. But don’t worry – this isn’t a black box. In fact, we can tell you exactly what the life insurance companies will be looking at when they decide your rates: your motor vehicle report (MVR).

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What’s in your motor vehicle report (MVR)

Your motor vehicle report (MVR) — also known as your driving record — is a report card for your driving. This is what your life insurance company will look at during the underwriting period. The MVR is also used to determine other types of insurance rates, including renters insurance, homeowners insurance, and of course, auto insurance.

Your MVR features officially documented violations, such as:

  • Traffic citations
  • Vehicular crimes
  • Accident reports
  • Driving record points
  • DUI/DWI convictions

Your MVR features violations from as far back as five or seven years, depending on your state.

So what’s on your MVR? It’s not as readily accessible as your credit report (which also affects your insurance ratings), but you can order your MVR from your state’s licensing agency.

How your MVR affects your life insurance rates

When you apply for life insurance, the insurance company sets your rates by assessing your risk of dying during the policy you’re purchasing. They do this by compiling your risk factors and assigning you a classification that will determine your monthly premiums.

Each insurer has different standards and even terms for their classifications, but essentially: the riskier you are, the worse your classification will be and the higher your premiums will be.

In order to get the best classification at most life insurance companies, you need to have absolutely no DUIs (driving under the influence) or DWIs (driving while intoxicated) on your record in the past five years. Some insurers even increase that to seven or 10 years. You also cannot have any record of reckless driving or a license suspension.

Typically, you also cannot have more than two moving violations in the last three years. You’ll get marked for a moving violation any time you break a law while the vehicle is in motion. Examples: speeding, failing to stop for a pedestrian, failure to use a seatbelt.


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How to buy life insurance if you have a DUI, DWI, or multiple violations on your MVR

If you have recent or multiple DUI, DWI, or moving violations, you won’t be able to get the best possible rates on your life insurance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to get covered. Insurance carriers vary in how they view your driving record. Some carriers may offer you coverage with a lower classification (higher premiums); others will also charge you an extra flat fee per year (a few dollars per thousand dollars of coverage is possible).

If you have a recent DUI, the best course of action is to start the process, get quotes, and talk to a licensed life insurance agent, who can look at the full picture of your application, including your driving record, and make a recommendation for which carrier is likely to give you the best rates.

Life insurance rates if you have multiple moving violations on your MVR

Most life insurers won’t give you the highest classification if you have two or more moving violations in the last three years. Depending on the company, that three years may be upped to five years.

Some life insurance companies won’t give you a policy at all if you have more than two moving violations on your record.

The life insurers with less strict standards are still pretty strict – instead of accepting no more than two moving violations, they may accept up to three moving violations in exchange for a much higher monthly premium.

Life insurance rates if you have a DUI, DWI, or reckless driving on your MVR

Life insurance companies are very strict about DUIs and DWIs. Not only can you not get the best classification and rates, some companies won’t give you life insurance at all if you have a DUI or DWI on your record in the last five years.

Luckily for drivers who have changed their behavior, other life insurance companies are not as strict. They knock that five years down to two or three as the classification gets lower, making it easier to get life insurance despite past transgressions.

Same goes for reckless driving – while not all life insurers specifically look at reckless driving violations, the ones who do hold it up to the same standards as DUIs and DWIs.

If you have a DUI, DWI, or a reckless driving violation on your driving record in the last five years, an independent agent can help you choose the best carrier for your application.

We pulled quotes for a healthy 34-year-old male in Virginia for $500,000 policy with a 20-year term. Then we pulled quotes if he’d had DUI five years ago and if he’d had one two years ago. Note that some carriers require more info before they’ll quote for this situation; a Policygenius agent could provide more information after your initial application.

Sample monthly premiums

Companyno DWIDWI 5 years agoDWI 2 years ago
Banner Life$21.55$21.55N/A
Lincoln Financial$31.41$31.41$57.62
Mutual of Omaha$21.66$21.26N/A
Pacific Life$21.30$21.30N/A

Further reading

Understanding how life insurance rates change by age

The cost of life insurance can increase by as much as 12% each year you put it off. See real life examples here.


How does the underwriting process work?

Life insurance rates are set largely based on the results of the underwriting process. Find out what exactly carriers look for.


Should you pay my life insurance premiums annually or monthly?

How often you pay your life insurance premiums can have a big impact on how much you spend on your policy.


Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.