How DUI, DWI Violations Like the Tiger Woods Incident Affect Life Insurance Costs

Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI) are the offenses of driving a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or other drugs – including recreational drugs and those prescribed by physicians – and professional golfer Tiger Woods is becoming intimately familiar with the problems DWI can create for a driver rendered incapable of operating a motor vehicle.

DUIs (Driving Under the Influence) and DWIs (Driving While Intoxicated) are often seen as purely auto insurance issues, but these violations could also affect life insurance.

But Tiger Woods will find there are other unexpected consequences of a DWI as well.

When applying for a life insurance policy, insurance companies will review a number of factors to determine your insurability and potential premium. Your health history is only one factor in that process.

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Behavior factors – such as potentially dangerous hobbies, history of injuries, drug and alcohol usage – are also considered. At this time, insurance companies will also examine your criminal background and driving record, as these are also indications of potential high-risk applicants.

DUIs and DWIs fall under this category, as substance abuse in combination with the operation of a vehicle is represented as high-risk factors. The probability of premature death is greater for these candidates, as reckless or hazardous activities are linked to a shorter lifespan.

In order to combat the increased risk that DUIs and DWIs pose for insurance companies, your life insurance premium rates will be adjusted accordingly.

If have a history of either a DUI or DWI, rates will be based on the following:

  • Number of DUI and DWI incidents
  • Severity of those events
  • Date of the last incident
  • Any efforts at rehabilitation since the last incident

As you may assume, the more recent and more frequent the incidents are, the higher the premium rates will be. A recent incident, in combination with a high frequency, could result in extreme rates.

Similar to health-related risks, the further into your past, the more favorable the insurance company will be when reviewing your application.

On the other hand, a very recent incident could result in an application being declined as the risk is too high for the insurance company. This is most likely the case if the applicant has a history of other DUI and DWI incidents.

Underwriting criteria for DUI and DWI vary from one company to another; however, as a rule of thumb, life insurance companies want to see that a DUI or DWI is a minimum of two years old.

Another important factor is an attempt at rehabilitation. Life insurance companies are interested if an applicant has taken positive steps to ensure this won’t happen again. The completion of driving courses and substance abuse programs are two ways of showing positive change.

– Photo courtesy Keith Allison

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