Are You Insured If You Drink And Drive?

Here's an interesting news development: in South Africa, if you drink and drive, you are considered uninsured!

Surprised? Well, it's not the only country where you could be in big trouble. In Canada, if you are found to be operating a car under "illegal" circumstances, your insurance could be deemed invalid. So, not only could you land in jail, you could also suffer severe financial stress due to getting behind the wheel with alcohol in your system.

You might think that couldn't happen because you have no fault insurance where you live. While no-fault is the standard in most of Canada -- which means that your own insurance pays your claim -- you could end up being sued by the insurer for the other driver if you've been charged with drinking and driving. That means that the other person's insurance company will come after you to cover their expenses. In a serious accident with personal injuries, those costs could be in the millions.

Most people think "just one drink" won't do any harm. You could be wrong in that assumption too. Depending on a number of factors -- including your size and whether you have food in your stomach to slow down your absorption of alcohol and whether you've had gastric bypass surgery -- you could be well over the legal limit with just one drink.

Here's more sobering news: you may not even be able to get insurance after a drunk driving conviction. Without insurance, you are effectively barred from the road. If you can get insurance, expect the rates to be astronomical.

While I can't find any US state that is also allowing insurers to deem a driver "uninsured" if caught driving under the influence of alcohol, don't be surprised if the US soon follows suit. A number of other countries, including England and Australia have also enacted similar regulations, allowing insurers to sue drivers who drive drunk.

This puts the onus back on the driver to ensure that they are capable of handling a car when they get behind the wheel. Don't be surprised if the same kinds of regulations are brought into effect regarding drug use.

Monique L. Attinger

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