If you’re shopping for life insurance, be aware that your driving record can affect the quotes you’ll get -- and even whether you can buy life insurance.

Among the information that life insurance companies pull for applicants is a motor vehicle record. Life insurers are generally looking for four main things:

  • DUIs.
  • Reckless driving convictions.
  • Moving violations, such as speeding.
  • License revocations or suspensions.

What do life insurance companies look for on a driving record?

Whether you have these problems, how many and how long ago will often help determine how much you’ll pay for life insurance. EverQuote examined the rules for driving records from 15 life insurance companies and found:

One DUI: Most companies will not give the best rates (called preferred plus and preferred) to anyone with a DUI/DWI conviction in the past 5 years.

Multiple DUIs: Multiple DUIs in the last four or five years can often mean a denial.

Reckless driving: Most companies give the same rating classification as a DUI. (See a variety of definitions of “reckless driving” below.)

Moving violations: Some companies will not give the best rates to people with more than two moving violations in the past three years.

What is reckless driving?

Each state makes its own definition of reckless driving, and it’s usually among the most serious traffic offenses. Many states define “reckless driving” broadly so that law enforcement officers can apply it to a range of serious situations. Here’s a sample of definitions of reckless driving from state laws.

Reckless driving in California

A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

Reckless driving in Florida

Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.

Reckless driving in Michigan

A person who operates a vehicle upon a highway or a frozen public lake, stream, or pond or other place open to the general public, including, but not limited to, an area designated for the parking of motor vehicles, in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty [of reckless driving].

Reckless driving in Pennsylvania

Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.

Reckless driving in New York

Reckless driving shall mean driving or using any motor vehicle, motorcycle or any other vehicle propelled by any power other than muscular power or any appliance or accessory thereof in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway.

Reckless driving in Texas

A person commits an offense if the person drives a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

What can you do if you have a poor driving record?

If you have a recent DUI, reckless driving conviction or moving violation, work with an independent life insurance agent who can shop among multiple companies for you. Even with a poor driving record, you can get multiple quotes to find a good deal.

You could also choose to wait until the driving record problem is five or so years behind you, to get better life insurance quotes. But keep in mind that by waiting you’ll be charged more for being older and for any health conditions you’ve developed.