Non-standard auto insurance is a term to classify insurance sold to drivers whose risk factors makes it difficult or impossible to obtain insurance at standard or preferred rates. Some companies work only in the non-standard auto insurance business, while others file rates that are tiered into non-standard, standard and preferred tiers.
Here are some factors that may put you in the non-standard auto insurance tier:
- You have a serious violation, such as a DUI, on your driving record.
- You have a number of accidents, claims or violations on your record.
- You let your car insurance policy lapse.
Most drivers who do not meet an insurance company's standard or preferred risk underwriting criteria will end up using a non-standard insurer to obtain the auto insurance coverages that they need.
Also, some drivers with little experience or high-value vehicles may find the best rates from an insurance company that specializes in non-standard coverage.
You don't necessarily need to be a non-standard driver to buy insurance from a non-standard insurance company. Sometimes these specialty insurers are able to offer a more competitive price. Some large, well known insurance companies own smaller non-standard insurance companies and offer non-standard policies through their agents.
As with most types of car insurance, there can be large variations in price when shopping for non-standard insurance. If you can keep a good driving record without claims you should be able to stay within the standard (voluntary) car insurance market and likely will obtain better insurance premiums.
5 tips for buying non-standard auto insurance:
1. Gather lots of car insurance quotes.
It's always wise to compare car insurance companies, even if you're shopping for non-standard car insurance.
If you are required to obtain an SR-22 form, your insurer will file the form with the state to prove you have coverage. Not all insurers provide this service, but many do. As you're getting quotes, verify with the companies that they offer the filing service. Keep in mind you'll have to pay a one-time filing fee, typically about $35, on top of the premium.
2. Consider your state's assigned risk pool as a last resort.
If you can't get anyone to insure you, some states have an assigned risk pool. Insurers are assigned uninsurable customers on a round-robin basis. Maximum rates are set by the state.
3. Make sure you compare car insurance quotes for the same coverages.
Shop for policies that mirror one another, so you compare quotes for the same coverage.
4. Watch out for exclusions and limitations.
Some insurance companies will place restrictions on your policy. For instance, there may be step-down liability limits for permissive drivers. Normally your liability coverage extends in full to people you give permission to use your car occasionally. With step-down provisions, the liability limits drop to the state minimum requirements for permissive drivers, even if you buy higher limits for yourself.
5. Shop for quotes at renewal time.
Perhaps your violations have dropped off your record, or, your credit has improved. If you've maintained a clean driving record, you may be able to jump back into the standard driver rates tier, so it's prudent to check when you are ready to renew your policy.