Do I lose my insurance cover if I drive drunk?

There is a widespread idea that a drunk or otherwise intoxicated driver of a motor vehicle (motor vehicle) loses his insurance cover.


Is that correct?

First of all, an insurance law stipulation is required that the driver is not allowed to drive drunk or under the influence of drugs. There is no legal regulation, at least from an insurance law perspective. However, there is a contractual provision for this:

In the motor vehicle liability insurance conditions there is an obligation, i.e. a code of conduct. To this end, the liability conditions often state as follows:

“The vehicle may not be driven if the driver is unable to drive the vehicle safely due to alcoholic beverages or other intoxicating substances.”

In short: Drunk or under the influence of drugs, a vehicle may not be driven if I am no longer able to drive the vehicle safely.

This applies regardless of whether the vehicle is being driven in public transport or on private property. So there is an insurance regulation that the driver is not allowed to drive drunk or under the influence of drugs.


When will I no longer be able to drive the vehicle safely?

In the case of absolute driving incapacity (blood alcohol of at least 1.1 per mille), but also in the case of relative driving incapacity, i.e. with blood alcohol of less than 1.1 per mille, if there are additional circumstances that suggest an inability to drive. These can be, for example, driving errors or the behavior of the driver.

There are no limit values ​​for the use of drugs, so that it can be concluded that the driver is not able to drive based solely on the evidence.

So if you drive stoned or drunk in a car, you are violating a contractual obligation from motor vehicle liability insurance.


What are the consequences?

The willful breach of an obligation generally leads to the insurer being exempt from providing benefits, cf. Section 28 VVG. However, there is a special feature here in motor vehicle liability insurance. According to Section 117 VVG, the insurer remains fully obliged to pay the injured party.

Example:

T drives home in the vehicle after a boozy evening. After 6 large beers and 4 schnapps, he realizes that he is actually no longer able to drive his vehicle safely. However, since he thinks he “knows the short way in sleep”, he sits down behind the traffic jam. On the way, T collides with G’s parked vehicle due to a driving error caused by drunkenness. In this case, G’s vehicle is damaged in the amount of € 20,000.00.

Even if T has intentionally violated an obligation here, G will receive compensation for the damage in the amount of € 20,000.00 from T’s liability insurer (VR). This is stated in Section 117 VVG. Now VR could come up with the idea and claim back the damage in the amount of € 20,000.00 from T, after all, T has deliberately violated the obligation. However, T must pay a maximum of € 5,000.00 to VR. Why?


Recourse by the insurer limited to € 5,000.00

Another peculiarity in motor vehicle liability insurance must be observed here. Recourse by the insurance company is limited to a maximum of € 5,000.00 in the event of a breach of this obligation. This results from § 5 KfzPflVV.

This means that the drunk driver also retains his insurance cover in the event of a breach of an obligation. The injured party has a claim in full against the insurer. However, the drunk driver must reimburse the insurance company for a maximum of € 5,000.00.


Conclusion:

So even if you drive a car drunk or under the influence of drugs, which you should generally refrain from, you will not lose your insurance cover in your motor vehicle liability insurance, but you will have to participate in the damage up to a maximum of € 5,000.00.

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