Exclusions on motor insurance if you are under the influence

Are you insured if you are “under the influence” of drink or drugs?

Motorists who cause accidents due to being ‘under the influence’ of alcohol or drugs should not be able to make a claim! Right?
Most people would agree with this as a deterrent to drink driving, where drivers are over the limit, but should the same exclusions apply if you take prescription drugs or are under the legal limit for alcohol?

A few years ago, wording began to creep in to motor insurance policies excluding anyone ‘under the influence’ of drink and drugs. This included anyone taking prescription drugs or with minimal alcohol in their system and meant their motor insurance could be invalidated.

The Association of Chief Police Officers clarified their position stating that being ‘under the influence’ meant being ‘over the legal limit’ and insurers such as Zurich and Allianz, recognising that the exclusion was having unintended consequences, removed it completely.

Today, if you are involved in an accident and have consumed alcohol, but are under the limit, your conduct is not considered illegal and insurers will usually continue to provide you with cover.

If you are over the limit of alcohol consumption, there are more negative implications, such as motoring convictions, penalty points, fines, disqualifications and the difficulty of getting future insurance cover. You may also find it difficult to get your insurance company to pay out for your vehicle if you’re involved in an accident.

Significant exclusions and limitations

Most insurance policies now include a section entitled ‘Significant exclusions and limitations’, explaining the various scenarios in which your insurance is either limited or invalidated. This 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’.

This means insurers will not pay any more than their legal liability under the Road Traffic Act for any claim where the driver of the car insured by them is found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs or convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The Road Traffic Act states that insurers still have to pay out for third party claims, even if an insurer tries to exclude a motorist from cover on the grounds of being under the influence of drink or drugs.

If insurers exercise this option your own losses will not be covered, and more worryingly, the insurer can then seek to recover their costs from you


The insurance company may also exclude passenger claims if they can prove the passenger was aware the driver was drunk.

Impact on premiums

If you are convicted of a drink or drug-driving offence, you must tell your insurer about your conviction, which will impact your insurance cover and cost, until the conviction becomes spent.

Some insurers may refuse to insure you and others may price their quotes so high they are effectively refusing to insure you.

Check your policy for exclusions

As your broker, J Bennett & Son is happy to check your motor insurance policy for the possibility of exclusions and if you wish to check for exclusions or are facing the possibility of a conviction, talk to us today on 01494 450450 or email us at insure@jbennett.co.uk



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