6 Reasons You Might Need High-Risk Car Insurance

Updated February 23rd, 2022

High risk car insurance: man driving a car

No one wants to pay more than they need to for car insurance, but if you’re classed as a high-risk driver, then you may have a hard time finding low insurance premiums. That’s because car insurance companies use a range of factors — including your age, driving record, and even your credit score — to decide how much to charge you.

Fortunately, if you know what those factors are, you can take some steps to lower your premiums — or avoid being classed as a high-risk driver in the first place.

Here’s everything you need to know about high-risk car insurance, as well as where to find the lowest car insurance rates where you live.

What is High-Risk Car Insurance?

High-risk car insurance is essentially a non-standard auto insurance policy for drivers that are considered high-risk. Insurance companies may charge higher premiums to drivers that they think are more likely to get into an accident or file a claim.

But “high-risk” isn’t something that gets stamped on your driver’s license; it’s up to each car insurance company to determine whether or not you fall into a high-risk category.

Some factors are out of your control — such as your age — while others are things that you can work to improve over time, such as your driving history or credit score.

You can still get insurance coverage as a high-risk driver, but you may have to shop around a bit to get the best rates. You can use this handy tool to find affordable car insurance near you, or read on to learn more about high-risk car insurance.

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6 Reasons You Might Be Considered a High-Risk Driver

High risk car insurance: student driver putting on her seatbelt

Knowing whether or not you’re likely to be considered high risk is the first step to finding the best car insurance coverage. After all, if you don’t know how many speeding tickets or moving violations you have, it’s hard to know what type of insurance you need.

Here are six things that can influence the cost of your car insurance policy. 

1. Young or First-Time Driver

If you’re a young driver or you’ve just gotten your driver’s license, then there’s not much you can do: Insurance providers will consider you a high-risk driver by default.

The good news is that if you avoid car accidents and driving violations, your premiums will eventually go down.

Still, in the meantime, you can expect to pay more for insurance than your parents or other experienced drivers, even if you have a clean driving record.

2. Multiple Traffic Violations or Accidents

The second thing that can increase your car insurance premium is your driving history. A single infraction won’t automatically class you as a high-risk driver, but if you’ve gotten into multiple car accidents or been pulled over for reckless driving more than once, then insurance companies are more likely to charge you for high-risk auto insurance.

In some states, speeding tickets stay on your record for five years or more, but in other states, it’s only one or two years. Once your driving violations drop off your record, then you may be eligible for standard insurance rates again.

3. Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

It’s a different story if you have a DUI conviction, which can raise your insurance rates by as much as 30-60% and may make it harder to find car insurance at all.

You may also need to maintain an SR-22 certificate in order to reinstate your license and show that your insurance policy meets your state’s requirements.

4. Poor Credit Score

Insurance companies don’t just look at your driving history. They also look at your credit score to determine whether you’re likely to file a claim. If this sounds a little unfair, you aren’t the only one to think so: A few states, such as California and Washington, have taken steps to prohibit this practice.

Still, if you don’t live in one of those states, you can expect most insurers to check your credit score when you request an auto insurance quote.

5. Gaps in Insurance

Another thing that auto insurance companies look out for is whether you’ve maintained continuous coverage. If you’ve let your car insurance lapse, then they may require you to get a high-risk policy, even if you’ve never been in an at-fault accident.

This is because they consider you less reliable than someone who has never canceled their insurance and always pays on time.

6. Expensive Car

Finally, the type of car you drive can also determine how much you pay for insurance. For example, it typically costs more to insure a Tesla than other types of electric cars. Expensive cars, sports cars, antique cars, and other specialized motor vehicles often result in higher insurance premiums.

Even if your dream car has advanced safety features and driver-assist systems, this may not lower your insurance premiums, because of the higher cost of repairs.

How to Avoid Paying High-Risk Car Insurance

Now that we’ve gone over the bad news — that some aspects of high-risk car insurance are out of your control — what about the good news? Is it still possible to get cheap car insurance as a high-risk driver?

When it comes to car insurance, time is your friend. The longer you can keep a clean driving record and good credit report, the less you’ll pay for insurance. Here are four steps you can take to save money on high-risk car insurance:

1. Learn Defensive Driving

Some car insurance companies offer a discount to drivers who have taken a defensive driving course or other road safety classes.

These are cheaper and less time-consuming than you may think. The AARP even allows drivers to take their Smart Driver course online.

Keep in mind that this isn’t a surefire way to lower your insurance costs, and discounts may only be available for certain age groups, such as drivers over 55, or with certain insurers. 

2. Maintain a Good Driving Record

The easiest way to avoid paying for high-risk car insurance is to drive safely. If you don’t have any driving violations on your record, then you’ll get better insurance rates.

Even if you do have minor traffic violations, they won’t stick around forever. Once your speeding tickets drop off your record, ask your insurer to lower your rates (or shop around for a different company that won’t see the infractions at all).

3. Pay Attention to Your Credit Score

If you live in a state where insurers are allowed to check your credit history, then you can lower your car insurance by improving your credit score. By paying your bills on time — including your car loan, if you have one — you’ll demonstrate to insurers that you’re a reliable customer both behind the wheel and in your financial life.

4. Consider Non-Owner Car Insurance

What happens if you move overseas for a while or decide to sell your car before buying a new one? Will you be charged higher rates in the future if you cancel coverage? One way to avoid this is by buying non-owner car insurance during that period.

This way, you’ll avoid a lapse in coverage, and you’ll be able to borrow a friend’s car or use a car-sharing program without the risk.

Choose the Right Car Insurance Company

Happy woman driving a car

If you’re a high-risk driver, the best way to get an affordable car insurance policy is to shop around for the best rates. Some insurers don’t offer high-risk policies at all, while others specialize in them. The best plan for you will depend on what level of coverage you need and whether or not you’re okay with a high deductible.

Our convenient search tool makes it easy to compare car insurance quotes and find the best insurer for high-risk drivers in your state.

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