You might find getting a standard auto insurance policy difficult if you’ve racked up any tickets or accidents. 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 non-standard policies are likely more expensive and less comprehensive than standard coverage, meaning you’ll want to invest some time shopping for the most affordable auto insurance for high-risk drivers.
- Who is considered a high-risk driver?
- What is high-risk car insurance?
- How much does high-risk driver insurance cost?
- Cheap car insurance companies for high-risk drivers
- How to get auto insurance for a high-risk driver
- What happens if you’re denied coverage as a high-risk driver?
- How to lower your high-risk car insurance rates?
- Frequently asked questions: High-risk drivers
- Resources & Methodology
Who 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 high-risk if you have any of the following:
- Multiple speeding tickets or other traffic infractions on your record from the previous three to five years.
- An injury or a high-cost accident on your record from the previous three to five years.
- A conviction for driving under the influence.
- You are a young or inexperienced driver on your policy.
- A high-performance sports car. See CarInsurance.com’s list of the most expensive cars to insure to see how vehicle choice can impact your rates.
- A poor credit score. A few states — California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and Michigan — prohibit insurance companies from considering a customer’s financial payment history in setting its rate.
- A recent lapse in auto insurance coverage.
What is high-risk car insurance?
High-risk insurance is auto insurance coverage for drivers with bad driving records, a history of accidents, traffic infractions and poor credit. It includes liability coverage, which covers damage to others and is required by law. High-risk car insurance also includes collision and comprehensive coverage, covering your 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 likely offer less coverage.
A high-risk policy might limit who can drive your car. It might specify that only drivers on 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 total 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, read the fine print to 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 much does high-risk driver insurance cost?
Drivers pay an average of 90% or $1,733 annually more for their auto policy if they have three DUIs on their record. A driver with a ticket for talking on a cell phone will pay an average of 27% or $509 more yearly on auto insurance.
Any exact hikes will, of course, depend on your profile and will vary by insurer. Every auto insurance company uses its own formula to assess risk.
A high-risk driver typically pays more for auto insurance. How much more depends on your overall record and why the car insurance company considers you a high risk in the first place.
See the table below to determine how much your insurance rates may go up after certain infractions in your state.
Note: California, Massachusetts and Hawaii do not use credit scores to determine car insurance rates.
Cheap car insurance companies for high-risk drivers
Car insurance can be a costly expense for drivers, particularly those who are considered high-risk by insurers. Whether due to a history of accidents or other driving infractions, insurers often consider high-risk drivers a liability and charge them higher premiums.
However, just because you’re labeled as a high-risk driver doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. A little research may help you secure affordable car insurance that meets your coverage needs.
The following carriers offer cheap car insurance rates for high-risk drivers.
How to get auto insurance for a high-risk driver
The auto insurance market is competitive, including the non-standard auto insurance market. So it pays to get quotes from several insurance companies before choosing a high-risk policy.
Some major car 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:
- The General, a subsidiary of American Family Insurance
- Direct Auto Insurance, a subsidiary of Direct General Insurance Group
- Titan Insurance, a subsidiary of Nationwide Insurance
- Dairyland Insurance, a subsidiary of Sentry Insurance
- Geico Casualty, the high-risk branch of Geico
- Infinity Insurance, a subsidiary of Kemper Corporation
- SafeAuto Insurance
- GAINSCO Auto Insurance
- Bristol West Insurance
- Affirmative Insurance
- Alliance United Insurance, a division of Kemper Corporation
- United Automobile Insurance Company
- Access Auto Insurance
What happens if you’re denied coverage as a high-risk driver?
You might have to turn to a state-assigned risk pool if you cannot find high-risk insurance coverage. But these are a last resort. Most states will ask you to show that car 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.
How to lower your high-risk car insurance rates?
Car insurance for high-risk drivers is more expensive, but there are ways to lower your car insurance costs.
Maintain a good driving record: A history of accidents or traffic violations can increase your insurance premiums. Maintaining a good driving record by following traffic rules and regulations can reduce your risk profile and insurance premiums.
Improve your credit score: Some car insurance companies use credit scores to determine rates, so maintaining a good credit score can help you get a better deal.
Sign-up for a defensive driving course: Many auto insurance companies offer cheap rates to drivers who take a safe or defensive driving course – but whether you can get a discount also depends on your state’s rules.
Know when to switch insurers: High-risk drivers should compare insurance quotes when their policy is up for renewal. Shopping around can help high-risk drivers get a cheaper policy if the rates get too high.
Frequently asked questions: High-risk drivers
Who is considered a high-risk driver?
Drivers with a history of traffic violations, such as speeding or reckless driving, are considered high-risk, as are those with a DUI conviction or previous accidents on their record.
Additionally, drivers who have made multiple insurance claims or have poor credit may also be considered high-risk. Inexperienced teenage drivers, who may lack driving experience and are statistically more likely to be involved in accidents, are labeled high-risk by insurance companies.
What is the cheapest insurance company for high-risk drivers?
USAA has the cheapest car insurance rates for high-risk drivers, at an average annual premium of $2,183, based on 2023 CarInsurance.com data. However, USAA offers its services only to those in the military or their immediate family members. Nationwide and Geico also provide cheap car insurance to high-risk drivers.
How do you avoid high-risk driver auto insurance?
Avoiding high-risk auto insurance typically involves maintaining a clean driving record, improving your credit score and not driving under influence. While car insurance rates vary based on your individual factors, maintaining a clean driving record is one of the most effective ways to avoid rate increases.
Resources & Methodology
Progressive. “What is high-risk auto insurance?” Accessed March 2023.
CNBC Select. “Have a bad driving record? Here are the best car insurance companies for high-risk drivers.” Accessed March 2023.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners. “Consumer Insurance Search Results.” Accessed March 2023.
CarInsurance.com commissioned Quadrant Information Services to field rates for high-risk drivers. The data is based on the profile of a 40-year-old male driving a 2021 Honda Accord and carrying a full coverage policy with limits 100/300/100 and a $500 comprehensive and collision deductible.
We have used the parameters; DUI first offense, two speeding tickets, one bodily injury accident and bad credit to create the profile of a high-risk driver. To analyze the data, we have compared 5,000,736 insurance quotes of 27 company groups across 515 cities and 1,467 ZIP codes in the U.S.