“Under the influence” of drink or drug driving. Are you insured?

Most people would agree that those convicted of drink or drug-driving offences should be excluded from insurance cover as a deterrent. But do the same exclusions apply to those driving under the legal limit for alcohol or taking prescription drugs?

Some years ago, insurers Zurich and Allianz introduced policy wording that excluded anyone under the influence of drink and drugs - including drivers with minimal alcohol or prescription drugs in their system, thereby potentially invalidating their insurance. The Association of Chief Police Offers clarified that ‘under the influence’ meant being ‘over the legal limit’ and insurers quickly realised the exclusion was having unintended consequences and removed it entirely.

Today, if you are involved in an accident and have consumed alcohol, but are ‘under the limit’, your insurer will generally provide cover. If you are ‘over the limit’, there will be consequences, in terms of penalty points, convictions, fines, disqualification and difficulty in getting future insurance cover.

Significant exclusions
A section in your motor policy entitled ‘Significant exclusions and limitations’ includes the phrase: ‘Injury resulting from you driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to a level which would be an offence in the country where the accident occurs’. Basically, this means your insurer will not pay any more than their legal liability if you are driving under the influence or convicted of drink /drug-driving. Under the Road Traffic Act, this means they will pay out for a third party claim, but not for your vehicle or injury to yourself if you are ‘over the limit’.

Passenger cover
As a passenger involved in an accident the insurance company may exclude passenger claims if they can prove you were new the driver was drunk.

The impact on your premiums if you have a conviction
A conviction for drunk/drug-driving will impact your insurance premium and some insurers may refuse to insure you. Legally, you must inform your insurer of your conviction for a minimum period of five years. (Some convictions can last for up to eleven years.) Steps you can take to lower an excessively high premium include going on a Drink Driving Rehabilitation Scheme, opting for ‘black box’ telematics insurance, restricting your mileage, improving security or downgrading your car.

As your broker, Mathews Comfort will look at your existing policy and advise on any exclusions in place. Likewise, if you have a conviction pending, we can advise you on your options. Please call us today on 01865 292929 or email info@mathewscomfort.com


Geoffrey Miller Solicitors: Insurance Exclusions – When can my insurance be void? https://motoroffence.co.uk/insurance-exclusions-when-can-my-insurance-be-void/
Insurer confusion over drinking and driving, BBC News  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17489887
Drink/drug driving conviction insurance help https://www.moneysupermarket.com/money-made-easy/drink-driving-conviction