Protection Products

Ask An Underwriter: Can my client ever get past a DUI on their record?


It happens all the time. Your client has no serious medical impairments, takes no scary medications, and has excellent build, blood pressure and family history. You sit down to fill out the application and ask a few remaining questions, such as, “Have you been convicted of a DUI/DWI in the past?” 

This is when the case can go sideways. 

We all know the facts. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs places the driver, as well as others on the road, at risk. Yet, people continue to do it. In 2014, 9967 people died in drunk driving crashes – one every 53 minutes.* This is why motor vehicle reports are routinely ordered.   

In today’s market, a client with a DUI or DWI will not likely get best rates for five years. Even if the incident was a one-time mistake, as many are, statistics show the average drunk driver has driven drunk more than 80 times before the first arrest.* Insurance companies are statistic driven, so the actuaries tell them your client is indeed a higher risk.  

Most carriers will put a flat rating on a client with a DUI during the first few years, but we have carriers who are more forgiving as it relates to a one-time event. One in particular will allow a Table B rating, even if the event is less than one year out, as long as there are no other concerns and the client is over the age of 21.


One-Time Mistake or Serial Offender?

Of course, not all DUI’s are one-time events. About one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving are repeat offenders.* What should you do if this is the case? 

First, remember not all DUIs are looked at through the same lens. If your client had a DUI in his/her 20s, then another 30 years later while coming home from a business meeting, the first incident is often written off as “youthful indiscretion.” Underwriters know the brain of a 21-year-old is not as developed as that of a 45-year-old, so we can be understanding. In these situations, a cover letter is of the utmost importance. 

On the other hand, if we see a client with more than one DUI in his/her later adult years, we worry about alcohol abuse and will ask more questions. We will be looking very closely at medical, social, family and work history for any red flags of abuse. We will ask if the client still drinks and, if so, how often. We will want to know if client belongs to any organizations or has undergone any treatment. 

Our Alcohol Usage Questionnaire can help you get to the heart of the matter. This form questions alcohol use and/or abuse as well as the driving record. You may feel awkward asking these questions, but it is even more uncomfortable telling a client he/she has been declined after going through the entire underwriting process.    

No matter the situation, we encourage you to ask questions and get all the facts. Check out the resources below. If you have a specific scenario you would like to discuss, please reach out to me at


Learn More

*MADD Drunk Driving Statistics:

Ash Brokerage comprehensive questionnaire for DUI and Alcohol use/abuse:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Substance abuse


About the Author

Laura Dagle has been in the insurance industry for more 35 years, during which time she has been both a producer and an underwriter. As someone who has seen the business from “both sides,” she is keenly aware of your desire to have the smoothest process, easiest underwriting and best possible outcome. As a 20-plus year member of a 12-step program, she has a special interest in alcohol-related cases and an understanding of the complications as a result of its use or misuse.


Underwriting DUI Alcohol Life Insurance