Are you a high-risk driver with a terrible driving record? Don’t despair, many auto insurance companies offer cheap car insurance to high-risk drivers!
As far as most insurance companies are concerned, there are three types of drivers.
The best drivers are known as “preferred risk.” Those with good but imperfect driving records are called “standard risk.” The rest are the bad drivers that are tossed into a “high-risk” category.
What do you have to do to be labeled a high-risk driver? Anything that suggests you’re more likely than the average policyholder to file a claim that will cost your insurer money. That includes crashing your car or getting driving citations like speeding or running a red light. In turn, they’ll charge you more for car insurance. In fact, high-risk drivers can pay up to four times as much for the same insurance. No matter what your driving record looks like, QuoteWizard can help you save money on your car insurance.
How do people end up categorized as high-risk drivers? Here are some common examples below:
More of a guideline than a rule, this generalization is based on the little information that’s publicly available. Insurance companies tend to not share this kind of data.
That said, getting more than a couple of tickets in a relatively short time span will cause your rates to go up. This includes moving violations like speeding, running a red light, etc. You may be labeled a high-risk driver if you get too many traffic tickets, and you'll pay higher premiums.
Unlike moving violations, causing an accident doesn’t have a “three strikes” style policy. Unfortunately for those prone to car accidents, you can be moved from preferred to standard risk if you cause a car crash.
In fact, most insurers will label you high-risk if you’re responsible for just one accident. This is especially true if the wreck causes injury, or worse. Even if you’re lucky enough to avoid a high-risk driver label after causing an accident, you’re still not out of the weeds. You’re still virtually guaranteed a rate increase.
QuoteWizard analyzed insurance rate data from Quadrant Information Services. The data compares drivers with clean records to drivers with a single accident on their record. It shows that average insurance rates rise by a whopping 26 percent after just one accident!
Fortunately, that 26 percent rate increase isn’t a guarantee for all drivers. It depends on a few factors, including your specific insurance company. According to the Quadrant rate data, these companies have the lowest rate increases after one accident:
|American Family||18 percent|
|Note: Average rate increases are based on non-binding estimates provided by Quadrant Information Services. Your rates may vary.|
Some driving citations are inherently more dangerous than speeding or running a red light. You may be labeled and treated like a high-risk driver if you’re pulled over for one of these “serious traffic violations”:
It might not be a surprise that getting a DWI can put you in the high-risk category. And a QuoteWizard study found that drivers pay an extra $830 per year for car insurance after a DUI.
In this case, your conviction will affect a lot more than just your car insurance rates. Along with heavy fines and penalties, you’ll have to file an SR-22 or FR-44 form with your state’s department of motor vehicles. Your license may be suspended. Your current car insurer may cancel your policy as well.
Tickets and infractions aren’t the only things that can give you a bad driving record. Sometimes, all it takes is for you to obtain too many points on your driver's license.
Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut rule as to how many points you can get before your premiums increase. Different insurance companies and states deal with the issue in different ways.
That said, the more points you get on your driving record, the more likely you are to be labeled a high-risk, and the more likely it is that your rates will increase.
On a more positive note, you may like to hear that many states now have laws that limit what an insurer can look into. When it comes to these sorts of things, many states only allow companies to look at information from the past three years when calculating your rates.
While being considered a high-risk is mostly a function of your driving record, sometimes it’s not.
Case in point: if you add a teen to your auto insurance policy, you may have to deal with the consequences that go along with being considered a risky driver.
This is because drivers aged 16 to 19 are much more likely to be in a wreck than any other age group.
Of course, those who don’t start driving until later in life can have similar problems. A lack of experience behind the wheel and a lack of insurance history can cause you to pay higher rates too.
Aside from these examples, any of the following can also move you from preferred to standard risk, or even high-risk:
The following explains how your driving record can mark you as high-risk driver and how that can increase your insurance rates.
Without a doubt, one of the first problems you’ll encounter as a high-risk driver is a spike in premiums. They could increase as much as three to four times the rate of a preferred driver.
Because car insurance pricing is so complex, the amount of the increase depends on a number of factors. For example, which company insures you can be a big factor. Also, the car you drive, where you live, and many more elements come into play here.
If a car insurance company decides that you’re too high of a risk—due to multiple traffic infractions in a short amount of time, or even just one severe traffic violation—they might revoke your policy altogether.
This can be a double whammy for many bad drivers, who may then find it difficult to obtain coverage elsewhere—especially affordable coverage.
If you find yourself seemingly uninsurable thanks to being declared a high-risk driver, you may want to—or have to—turn to high-risk car insurance (also known as non-standard car insurance).
The bad news: high-risk or non-standard car insurance policies usually are more expensive than policies for lower-risk drivers.
Now, for the good news: it shouldn’t be too hard to track down a company that will sell you this type of auto insurance.
For instance, many well-known insurers are willing to write non-standard policies. Also, some of the companies that don’t insure high-risk drivers themselves often own subsidiaries that specialize in non-standard insurance.
Something to watch out for if you end up shopping for non-standard car insurance is that not all insurers are created equal. So, do your research and make sure you choose a company that will pay off claims promptly and will provide you with decent customer service.
What can you do to get the most affordable car insurance possible, even if you don’t have a perfect driving record?
There’s no way around it: if you’re a high-risk driver in the eyes of an insurance company, you need to buy high-risk insurance. Unfortunately, many companies refuse to cover high-risk drivers. You may have experienced this first hand if you’re like the thousands of drivers who had their coverage cancelled after too many tickets or accidents.
Fortunately, there are many insurance companies that specialize in high-risk or non-standard insurance. They sell policies specifically for drivers who may struggle to get standard coverage. There are the ten best companies for high-risk insurance:
With their affable military mascot gracing television screens during commercial breaks across the country, The General is perhaps America’s best-known high-risk insurance company. And for good reason. The General sells policies “for drivers that have had a history of driving violations or accidents, have not kept their insurance in force or have less than perfect credit.” Regardless of your risk-level, the company says “you can still find a good price for your auto insurance needs.
Infinity sells four types of insurance: auto, life, business, and home. And their car insurance offerings include policies for high-risk drivers. One drawback is the fact that Infinity insurance policies are only available in a few select states.
As a subsidiary of Farmers Insurance, Bristol West sells high-risk insurance policies in most states. As their antiquated website suggests, they've been in the business since 1973. With their lengthy history and affiliation with Farmers, you can feel secure knowing that Bristol West has the necessary financial strength. Plus, their low down payments and flexible billing options are helpful to drivers with spotty driving record.
Safe Auto sells non-standard insurance like SR-22 and minimum coverage policies. Unlike other non-standard companies, Safe Auto policyholders can benefit from several discounts. Their website offers easy quotes and helpful insurance resources.
Geico has a company branch specifically for high-risk and non-standard drivers called Geico Casualty. When you purchase a policy through Geico, they’ll automatically assign you to Geico Casualty if you’re high-risk. And since Geico is known for affordable policies (and their green gecko), they’re a great option if you need to save some money.
With some 70 years in the business of insuring cars, National General has experience in the field. And that experience includes insuring high-risk and non-standard drivers. Their emphasis on customer service is a plus, especially for high-risk drivers who may not find that luxury with other companies. That includes lifetime repair guarantees, emergency expense allowance, and free car inspections after a claim.
Take the hint from the name: Acceptance accepts all kinds of drivers. Yes, that includes high-risk drivers with questionable driving records, and more:
Keep in mind that Acceptance only offer auto insurance in 17 states.
Wisconsin’s own insurance company has been in the business for over 60 years. Today, they sell several policies, including for drivers who struggle to find coverage elsewhere. One benefit for high-risk drivers is Dairyland’s pay as you go option. Plus, Dairyland offers several helpful discounts.
Victoria sells high-risk insurance in 27 states. Victoria is a subsidiary of Nationwide. That partnership ensures the company has the resources to protect your car. The company offers low down payments and flexible billing options.
Shopping around is important for many reasons. The biggest one has to do with how your auto insurance company treats you. Some companies will treat bad drivers poorly or cancel coverage completely, but others may treat you better.
So, spend time shopping around. Compare auto insurance prices for high-risk drivers from at least three companies. Doing so allows you to see which ones will offer you the best price and the best coverage. Then, use that information to decide which provider and policy will best fit your budget and your needs. Comparing quotes can help you save money on car insurance, no matter how bad your driving record is.
Also, don’t just do this once; do it regularly. In fact, Matt McColm, owner and operator of InsureBud in Quincy, Washington, suggests that “if you find yourself in a situation of being labeled a high-risk driver … shop your policy every six months, as the incidents leave your record. Insurance companies have different underwriting rules, so what could be affecting the price of your insurance today could change in six months.”
Doing what’s needed to minimize driving infractions, violations, and accidents is the best way to improve your driving record. This will better your chances of getting affordable car insurance.
That may require you to seek professional help. In the auto insurance world, this refers to defensive driving school, safe driving school, or even “driver’s education.”
Sometimes the best thing to do is to wait. You may have to be patient until the traffic infractions are off your record. After all, these are likely the reason you’re unable to get affordable car insurance, or get insurance at all.
That may require you to sit tight for a while—for several years, in fact. While many states only allow insurers to look at the last three years of a person's driving record, others allow them to look further back.
Regardless, you’re going to have to be patient. Do your best not to get any more tickets or citations before you’re in the clear with insurance companies.
“Time is the biggest factor to reducing these negative factors for underwriting,” McColm says. “You will not be a new driver forever. A traffic citation will reduce in cost, the further away from the date it occurred.”
A: This really depends on the infraction and the insurance company. Some insurers will consider you a high-risk after a single accident or traffic violation, especially if it’s serious. For instance, if you cause an accident and someone is injured or killed as a result. Other insurers will continue to classify you as a “preferred risk” or “standard risk” until you’ve accumulated three or more speeding tickets.
A: Again, this depends on the insurance company. However, it’s most likely that you’ll be treated as a high-risk driver if you spend any time at all without coverage. Obviously, you may not have much control if your insurer drops you because of too many tickets or an accident. When you do have control over it, though, make sure not to cancel your current car insurance policy until your new one starts.
A: Why, at QuoteWizard of course!
Unfortunately, the best answer to this question is “quite a bit more than people whose insurers consider them to be standard or preferred risk.” If you’re looking for a more specific answer, various reports suggest that bad drivers can expect premiums up to four times higher than those of lower risk drivers.
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