UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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If you commit a crime while driving, then you might be charged and placed in jail. You must remain in prison until you pay your bail.
Will your car insurance cover bail if you commit an offense while driving? Are there any situations where your insurer will cover bail? Or are you required to pay for bail out of pocket?
Yes, Standard Car Insurance Policies Cover Bail Up to a Certain Limit
Many drivers are surprised to learn that a standard car insurance policy covers bail.
Most car insurance policies have a section that specifically explains bail. The policy might state that the insurer will pay “up to $500 for the cost of bail bonds required because of an accident, including related traffic violations.”
Let’s say you were driving drunk. You got pulled over and were charged with a DUI. You spend the night in prison and must pay bail to be released. You contact your insurance company, and your insurance company posts bail up to the limits of your policy.
For a minor offense, bail might be $1,000 or less, in which case insurance could cover most of it. For more serious offenses, however, insurance may only cover a small portion of the total bail amount. In this case, you will need to pay the remaining bail out of pocket.
Insurance Policies Exclude Coverage for Intentional or Fraudulent Acts
All insurance policies have exclusions forbidding coverage for intentional or fraudulent acts. You cannot set your car on fire and make an insurance claim, for example. You cannot report your car stolen when you really sold it to a chop shop.
If you are in jail because you willfully committed a crime that damaged your vehicle, then your insurance company might deny your claim, and you will not be able to claim bail.
You May Be Able to Claim Other Jail-Related Costs Through Car Insurance
Car insurance should cover bail, but it can also cover other jail-related expenses.
Some car insurance companies, for example, will reimburse you for lost wages if you have to appear in court. If the other driver is suing you and you need to appear in court, for example, then the insurance company will reimburse you for any wages you would have normally earned. Similarly, if you are in court to defend yourself against a traffic violation that led to your imprisonment, then your insurance company might reimburse you.
More importantly, most car insurance policies also cover legal costs if you end up in court. Your car insurance company should cover your defense fees if you are sued, for example, as well as other court costs.
Talk to your insurance company to ensure you’re getting the maximum possible payout from your jail situation.
Some Insurance Companies Cover Bail Up to $1,000
Most car insurance policies cover bail of $250 or $500. However, some car insurance companies cover bail up to $1,000.
Amica, for example, offers up to $1,000 for bail bonds on every policy. Amica also reimburses lost wages if you have to appear in court.
Does My Car Insurance Cover Bail?
Car insurance falls under liability coverage, which means any driver with legal car insurance should have bail coverage.
Liability insurance is legally required in all states but two (New Hampshire and Virginia). Additional car insurance coverage, including collision coverage and comprehensive coverage, is optional in every state.
Fortunately for you, things like bail, legal defense fees, and similar costs all fall under liability coverage. If you have car insurance that meets the legal minimum limits in your state, then your car insurance should cover bail.
Most insurance policies cover bail up to a certain limit. If you need to pay bail after an accident or traffic-related violation, then your insurance policy should cover bail of $250, $500, or $1,000, depending on your policy.
However, car insurance will not cover bail if you intentionally commit an act that damages your vehicle, nor will they cover bail if you engage in fraud. In both of these situations, your car insurance claim – and bail claim – will be denied.