High-Risk Car Insurance: How to Find Affordable Coverage
What is High-Risk Car Insurance?
It’s just a fact: car insurance companies try to limit insurance claims in order to save as much money as possible.
As a result, they group drivers into risk categories by scoring them against factors like age and auto-related offenses. When an insurer decides you meet the description of a “high-risk” driver, it can block your access to quick, simple, and affordable coverage.
This is because auto insurance companies view your policy as a potentially expensive investment. In some cases, they are unwilling to take on the possibility that you will get into an accident or need to make a claim.
If they do accept a high-risk driver, insurers may charge much higher rates, which can burden many policy seekers. Otherwise, they may reject the application entirely or cancel an existing policy, making a real need for car insurance unique to high-risk applicants.
Even though high-risk car insurance isn’t preferred, it is a “non-standard” form of insurance tailored specifically to drivers who need coverage but can’t qualify for regular car insurance.
Insurance companies who offer these special policies decide to accept the chance that you might file claims or get into an accident. They offer you a break so you can access coverage fairly.
As we cover this form of insurance, you’ll see if you might count as a high-risk driver and learn how you can navigate the world of car insurance for the lowest rates and best, most complete coverage. Along the way, we offer tips to lower your premiums, help your application chances, and access essential insurance.
How Much Does High-Risk Car Insurance Cost?
A high-risk driver can expect to pay twice as much or more than “low-risk” drivers every month. Of course, this may not reflect your actual rate because car insurance always varies based on factors like age, credit, driving record, location, car, profession, and more.
High risk auto insurance, like traditional vehicle coverage, will also vary based on the type of insurance and level of payout limits you select. If you elect to get full coverage over the minimum level required by the state, it could potentially cost double by including a combination of greater liability protection as well as collision and comprehensive insurance. Some states will ask more of you, and you may have your own standards to meet for avoiding financial damage and possible liability in case of an accident.
While a lot differs from policy to policy, it’s still possible to see how being considered high risk can impact the cost of car insurance. If you have poor credit, an at-fault accident, or DUI on your record, it’s helpful to see how your rates for car insurance compare to drivers who may not have been found at fault for an accident or carry a clean driving history.
As a younger driver with an at-fault accident on your record, you can expect to pay almost double the annual cost of car insurance than a driver with good credit and a history of clean driving.
A 40-year-old driver will pay slightly less than a younger driver since those in their twenties often sit in an age-based risk category. An older driver will also not pay as much for also having a lower credit score than the “ideal” policyholder.
Compared to the same “low-risk” driver, a young policy seeker will see even larger quotes when categorized as high risk because of their credit – they often pay at least double, if not more.
But, the greatest impact on high-risk rates comes from drivers with DUIs or DWIs on their driving report: drivers in their twenties pay much more than double the traditional amount regardless of age.
The only way to know for sure what to expect from a high-risk car insurance policy premium is to shop for cheap quotes from Compare.com. Just enter your ZIP below to get dozens of free quotes in just minutes.
Are You Considered a High-Risk Driver?
Car insurance companies might consider you a high-risk driver based on factors like credit score and age, but traffic violations count more than anything. These high-level concerns include being in accidents that resulted in serious injury or death and many other possible offenses.
If you’ve received certain tickets, been ruled at-fault in accidents, or have charges of driving under the influence, then you will almost certainly be grouped as a high-risk driver for as long as insurance companies think it’s relevant.
Driving-Related Factors that Might Make You a High-Risk Driver
Some factors on your driving record could stop you from getting your preferred auto insurance policy. Whether it’s speeding, recklessness, a large number of license points on your record, or something else, let’s review some of the ways car insurance companies will assess your driving history and calculate a risk score.
If you’ve received a speeding ticket, this will factor into your risk category and could cause your premium to jump. How much it will affect you depends on how seriously you were speeding, where you were when you got the ticket, and how the insurance company does its calculations.
While a speeding ticket (or a number of them) could mean the difference between moderate and high risk, it won’t increase your premium by the same amount with every insurer. This is why it’s important to search for the fairest car insurance companies and compare the most competitive quotes with Compare.com. To get your free quotes, just enter your ZIP code below.
When you are involved in a driving incident and considered at fault, it means you took some kind of action (or failed to), which resulted in the accident. Even if you don’t receive a formal ticket as a result, an insurance company can determine on their own that you’re responsible for the cost of the accident and required to pay. And, there are several common ways that drivers find themselves named responsible for accidents.
For example, rear-ending the vehicle in front of you when driving aggressively or following a car too closely assumes that you are at fault for the incident. More obviously, driving under the influence almost always makes it clear that you are responsible for the accident since being intoxicated casts a shadow on your version of events and doesn’t look good to the court or insurance companies. Then, there are cases of ignoring signals and signs as well as texting or using your cellphone while driving.
Reckless Driving Charges
Many forms of reckless driving charges exist according to your local state law and insurance companies’ own definitions. Generally, reckless driving signals that you were operating your vehicle in a way that puts other people or their property at risk.
These charges can ignore whether you were intentional or unintentional in driving dangerously and be reason to mark your record with a misdemeanor conviction or more if it resulted in serious injury or death.
Some examples of reckless driving overlap with at-fault accidents like not obeying traffic signs, car signals, and stop lights. But, others include swerving on the road and driving on sidewalks or in places not designated for driving. Mostly, reckless driving describes any action that involves danger to others, such as tailgating, unsafe lane changes, weaving, and illegally passing.
Since charges for reckless driving can result in fines, points on your license, impounding, suspension, and even an arrest—they mean a decision from insurance companies that make it necessary to get high-risk car insurance.
But that doesn’t mean you’re out of options – you can still shop for a helpful quote from trusted insurers that cater to drivers with an imperfect history.
DUIs or DWIs
You probably know a DUI or DWI means a driver was driving while impaired, intoxicated, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While each term has a slightly different meaning, they all sway insurance companies seriously when deciding on your car insurance offer (or denial in some cases).
The severity of the offense depends on your state, and the impact on your coverage and premiums varies by company.
Some states include other infractions like operating under the influence (OUI) and while intoxicated (OWI), so you should also keep in mind that the specific circumstances could change the consequences for your insurance to different degrees.
Driver’s License Points
Infractions such as tickets and traffic violations sometimes add negative marks to your record. If too many points add up in the time set by your DMV, a license can be suspended by the state. Each state has its own point system, and some choose not to use them at all to record moving violations and “demerit” your driving history.
Points are highly important to insurance. The fewer points you have, the more advantageous for your high-risk status. Violations don’t result in the same number of points, so you’ll have to reference your state’s policies to learn more about how importantly a traffic ticket for speeding 10 miles over the limit could compare to driving while under the influence. That will give you a better idea of the quotes you’ll be offered.
Other Factors that Might Make You a High-Risk Driver
In addition to driving-related factors, insurance carriers will also evaluate the risk of your personal and car profile as a potential policyholder. This means that your age, vehicle, credit, and insurance history (especially with lapsed coverage). Each factor below presents the possibility of creating the need for a special, high-risk policy for you to access insurance, and each can have a drastic impact on your car insurance rates.
Young drivers tend to get more traffic violations than more mature drivers. That’s why insurance companies factor age into defining applicants as risky, regardless of whether they already have infractions like DWIs, points, or other negative marks on their record.
Some cars are more desired than others, and, as a result, they are stolen more often. Others are more likely to get into accidents or result in serious bodily injury and property damage. Some are safer vehicles to drive and help you save. Insurance companies collect all this information to calculate if your car will increase the chance of a claim. Some of the riskiest cars include:
- Honda Civic
- Ford Pickup
- Chevrolet Pickup
- Toyota Camry
- Nissan Altima
- GMC Pickup
- Dodge Pickup
- Jeep Cherokee
Sometimes, the difference is simply your vehicle model. You can really save by choosing a new car carefully and making an informed decision about which car suits the needs of your lifestyle, budget, and desired premium. Check which cars are most stolen and get into the most accidents before you buy.
Low creditworthiness tells insurance companies that you may not always pay your premium—out of necessity or not—and that your auto insurance coverage might dangerously lapse. This could cost the insurance company more money than they’re comfortable with, and they can choose to make you a high-risk driver on that basis alone. They may also choose not to offer you coverage at all.
Despite this, you can always find a car insurance company to offer car insurance in some way when you shop for the cheapest auto insurance and look at non-standard insurers and policies. Compare.com works with dozens of these “non-standard” insurance companies – just enter your ZIP code below and start comparing rates for free.
Spotty Insurance History
If you find yourself needing to neglect your car insurance premiums and you lose coverage (even temporarily), insurance companies mind. Since this increases your risk in their eyes, you might see an 8% increase in your car insurance premium if under 30 days. The longer the lapse though, the greater the impact on your risk, and you could pay 35% more with a lapse over a month.
How do Car Insurance Companies Calculate Risk?
Auto insurers are thorough when deciding how risky it will be to insure you and your car. When you apply, they will ask for plenty of information regarding almost every aspect of you as a driver, including:
- Credit score
- Home location
- Driving record
Some insurance factors will work in your favor – like having a decent credit score, being over 30, and working as a teacher, for example. Others won’t help your risk when you’ve needed to skip bills in the past, you’re under 25, or work in certain jobs that don’t come in the positive light or tend to drive odd hours, like doctors, firefighters, or government workers.
But, they also look intensely at outside factors like your car’s model, how much you drive, and whether you have had gaps in your coverage. This is why premiums and offers vary from driver to driver, and why people in certain neighborhoods, with traffic tickets, and in cases of lapsed insurance vary so widely.
What if Car Insurance Companies Deny You Coverage?
You’re not alone if your application for car insurance gets denied. High-risk drivers are all kinds of people in all kinds of circumstances. Your safety as a driver and your credit score or car are not the only reasons for not being offered car insurance by an auto insurer.
You might be denied if you haven’t driven in years or if you’re a first-time driver without much experience. Other reasons might be that you simply live in a high-risk area or drive a car with a greater chance of being stolen. However, you’ll never be denied based on protected categories like your marital status, gender, or sexual orientation.
If you get denied, consider high-risk insurance at the lowest rates to continue to drive legally. There’s no reason to be discouraged by the rejection of your application or not getting an offer from a company you prefer. Keep looking for low auto premiums with Compare.com.
Which Car Insurance Companies Offer High-Risk Car Insurance?
Most companies will take on a certain level of risk, but each has its own unique limit. As you look for the best car insurance for you, your profile, and your car, look into many different companies to see what level of liability, damage, and injury coverage you can qualify for from both traditional and non-standard names in the industry.
Some of the best insurers of high-risk drivers are well-known:
Others may be less recognizable, but they offer competitive and well-rated policies for drivers who need coverage after a denial. Insurers like Bristol West and Dairyland may also be able to undercut bigger names with insurance with equal limits and a lower premium.
How Can You Find the Right High-Risk Plan for You?
The main goal of high-risk drivers is to minimize their premium costs. Because insurance companies boost premiums when you’re more likely to make a claim, the best way to find the right car coverage plan is to use a tool that can compare many different quotes at once.
Rather than request quotes individually, you can look quickly at all the available policies and select the one that fits your lifestyle and your state requirements with ease, saving you both time and money.
Do You Need an SR-22?
If you are a high-risk driver because of a traffic violation or auto-related charge such as recklessness, being at fault, driving without insurance, or a DUI—your state might require an SR-22. This is a certificate of financial responsibility (CFR) that shows the state that you meet the legal requirements of insurance for driving in their jurisdiction. Look at your state’s requirements to learn more about whether you need one.
Ways to Save on High-Risk Car Insurance
Since higher risks come with higher costs, it’s important to limit how much you spend each year with short-term and long-term solutions for cutting costs. We’ve found that the following ways of discounting car insurance really help policy seekers in high-risk categories save money.
Take a Defensive Driving Course
Defensive driving classes, in some states, mean an automatic discount on car insurance for low- and high-risk drivers alike. Some of these discounts reach up to significant percentages with some insurers.
Take Advantage of Discounts
There are a huge number of potential discounts available to high-risk drivers, just like any other person looking for insurance. You can cut premiums with bundled policies, by being a student, insuring multiple cars, and staying incident-free for a certain amount of time.
Consider “Non-Standard” Companies
Smaller insurers offer attractive rates and policies for high-risk drivers. Whether you have negative marks on your driving record or get grouped in for another reason, see the competitive pricing and plans from non-standard insurers just to be sure. Unlike the big names, these carriers specialize in insuring high-risk drivers, which means they might offer you much better rates.
Shop Around and Compare Rates
You can always find a better deal on car insurance. While there’s no sure way to predict what the best deal will be since every driver and insurance company fits together differently, we make it easy to find the lowest rates for the best coverage for you. High-risk drivers like you can find cheap auto insurance when they look around and compare quotes with Compare.com. Just enter your ZIP code below and you’ll be well on your way to comparing free quotes from dozens of the best companies in your area.
High-Risk Car Insurance FAQs
How many tickets or accidents can you have before you’re considered a high-risk driver?
Tickets and accidents matter, but each state and insurance company will decide by how much. In many states, tickets and accidents count against your license. Insurers may then weigh the ticket and accident heavily. Car insurers also factor in the number of tickets as well as who was responsible for the accident to determine if you are high risk.
What do you do if your car insurance company drops you?
If your insurer is no longer willing to carry the risk of you making a claim, then you’ll have to start shopping for new insurance to continue driving legally. But don’t worry, you still have options. Start to compare quotes and shop around for the lowest auto insurance premiums in your high-risk category – there’s a company out there for every driver, regardless of their record.
Who insures high-risk drivers?
From large household names to small, non-standard insurers, many companies insure high-risk drivers. Some of the best are Progressive, Acceptance, GEICO, and 21st Century Insurance.
What is the best insurance company for high-risk drivers?
According to our analysis of the market, GEICO is a top insurer for high-risk drivers that offers a healthy amount of savings to most. However, the best insurance company for one driver might not be the best for another. The only way to guarantee you find the best policy for you and your unique needs is to compare quotes from multiple companies.
How long should you stay on high-risk insurance?
Until you’re able to change the reasons you’re considered a high-risk driver, you’ll probably need the insurance plan. Since insurers consider credit scores, driving records, home location, car models, driver age, and more—changing one or more of these factors over time can mean that you can get a standard, low-risk policy and save a lot of money.