If you’ve racked up any tickets or accidents, you might be finding it difficult to find a standard auto insurance policy. Fortunately, you still have options. As a high-risk driver, you should be able to qualify for insurance from a growing number of companies serving the nonstandard market. Unfortunately, however, these nonstandard policies are likely to be more expensive and less comprehensive than standard coverage, meaning you’ll want to invest some time in shopping for the most affordable auto insurance for high-risk drivers.

What is considered a high-risk driver?

A high-risk driver is someone whom the insurance company determines is more likely to file a claim — in other words, to cost the insurer money down the road. To cover that risk, the insurer charges a higher premium. In addition, the insurer may offer fewer perks, or less coverage.

You will likely be considered a high-risk driver if you have any of the following:

What is high-risk car insurance?

High-risk insurance includes liability coverage, which covers damage to others and is required by law. And it can include collision and comprehensive coverage, which covers your own car damage and hospital costs.

But because the insurance company is taking a bigger financial risk by covering a high-risk driver, the insurance will likely have two characteristics: The premiums you pay will be higher, and the policy will very likely offer less coverage. A high-risk policy might:

Limit who can drive your car. It might specify that only drivers named in the policy can drive the vehicle. Or it might exclude all drivers of a certain age, typically under 25. High-risk policies also might include step-down provisions that reduce liability coverage amounts for your policy if the driver is not named on the policy.

  • Come with frequent checks of your driving record.
  • Cover repairs at a depreciated rate, rather than providing you with a check to cover the full cost of repairs.
  • Not provide coverage if you are sued for punitive damages.
  • Not offer perks such as accident forgiveness.

When shopping for a high-risk policy, be sure to read the fine print so you know what is and is not covered. You can also search for complaints and financial information about companies online at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

How to get auto insurance for a high-risk driver

The auto insurance market is competitive, and that includes the non-standard auto insurance market. So it pays to get quotes from several insurance companies before choosing a high-risk policy.

Some major insurance companies might be willing to write a high-risk policy, but your odds of getting coverage are better through a nonstandard insurance company. Companies that cater to high-risk drivers include:

Can’t find high-risk insurance?

If you still cannot find high-risk insurance coverage, you might have to turn to a state-assigned risk pool. But these are really a last resort. Most states will ask you to show that insurance companies have repeatedly rejected you first. Then the state’s department of insurance will assign an insurance company to provide insurance for you. This is called insurance on the shared market, and premiums tend to be especially high — two to three times higher than the national average. Very few insured drivers — only 1 percent nationally — have to buy in the shared market.

How much does high-risk driver insurance cost?

You will have to pay more for high-risk driver auto insurance. How much more depends on your overall record, and why the insurance company considers you a high risk in the first place.

A CarInsurance.com rate analysis found that nationally drivers will pay an average of 255% more for their auto policy if they have three DUIs on their record, $5,080 annually instead of $1,430. A driver who has a ticket for talking on a cellphone, meanwhile, will pay an average of 16% more, or $1,655 instead of $1,430. Any exact hikes will, of course, depend on your profile and will vary by insurer. Every insurance company uses its own formula to assess risk.

To get a sense of how much some infractions are likely to raise your insurance where you live, enter your state in the search field below.

State Average Rate DUI Rate DUI % Increase 2 Speeding Tickets 2 Speeding Tickets % Increase 1 Bodily Injury Accident 1 Bodily Injury Accident % Increase Bad Credit Bad Credit %
North Carolina$836$3,206284%$1,49178%$1,16139%$1,02523%
North Dakota$1,365$2,14357%$2,06351%$1,55314%$1,86437%
New Hampshire$865$1,776105%$1,28248%$1,14032%$1,63789%
New Jersey$1,348$2,49985%$1,94945%$1,72828%$2,00148%
New Mexico$1,125$1,78759%$1,35320%$1,35821%$1,71853%
New York$1,336$2,14460%$1,61321%$1,69927%$2,41481%
Rhode Island$2,117$3,50265%$2,71028%$2,72429%$2,84734%
South Carolina$1,055$1,56648%$1,23417%$1,36229%$1,75967%
South Dakota$1,080$1,52041%$1,39629%$1,53042%$1,71559%
West Virginia$1,534$2,52364%$1,84120%$1,82719%$2,34453%


*CarInsurance.com commissoned Quadrant Information Systems to field rates for 10 ZIP codes in each state for a male driver, age 40, with a policy including $100,000 in liability coverage per person injured, up to $300,000 per accident and $50,000 in property damage, with comprehensive and collision at a $500 deductible. The average rate is for a clean record; the other rates show how much the base rate increases for the infraction, on average. California, Hawaii and Massachusetts state auto insurance laws prohibit use of credit scores when underwriting policies.

 How long are you considered a high-risk driver?

How long you remain classified as a high-risk driver will depend on the infraction, the laws of your state, and the insurance company. For example, points for a speeding ticket will fall off your record in one year in Nevada. Get a DUI, though, and insurance companies will keep your rates high for up to 10 years or longer. Most other driving infractions will typically stay on your record for three to five years.

Experts advise that you call your insurance company every year to ask if you qualify for a reduced rate or a discount. Maybe you are logging fewer miles or our credit score has improved. Maybe one of your traffic tickets has finally come off your record. Does the insurer give a discount to your alumni association or another group you belong to? Will completing a safe-driver course reduce your rate?

In the meantime, to quicken the time until you’re back on the standard-driver list, drive carefully and do not let your insurance lapse.

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Contributing Researcher

Chris Kissell is a Denver-based writer and editor with work featured on U.S. News & World Report, MSN Money, Fox Business, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Money Talks News and more.