As a driver, you can forget about greed and gluttony. Instead, you need to beware of other deadly sins that could mean you'll have a devil of a time when it comes to purchasing auto insurance. If you commit one of these sins -- which range from driving under the influence to letting your auto insurance lapse -- you can expect your insurance rates to soar. Having one of these black marks on your record can mean your insurer will move you from being a standard or preferred driver, who pays lower rates, into the high-risk category.
Driving under the influence
Perhaps the deadliest sin of all when it comes to jacking up your auto insurance rates is a DUI conviction. You'll typically be considered a high-risk driver by your auto insurance company for between three and seven years if you have a DUI on your record. Some states have laws on the books that require your insurer to consider your DUI for a certain number of years when the company sets rates. (See “ DUI and car insurance: What comes next?”) "It's not unusual to assume someone with a DUI would pay twice as much for insurance as someone without a DUI, all things being equal," says David Suarez, director of marketing for Mercury Insurance. In fact, based on an analysis of rates from six major insurers commissioned by Insurance.com through Quadrant Information Services, the average increase after a DUI is 82 percent. Where you live makes a difference, and so does your car insurance company. After a DUI conviction, a sample California driver - a 40-year-old man with a previously clean record insuring a new Honda Accord -- could pay as little as $2,605 or as much as $5,366 a year, depending on his ZIP code and his insurer.
While reckless driving laws vary from state to state, it generally means driving in "willful or wanton disregard" for the safety of people or property. Several states classify reckless driving that injures another person as a felony.