What is Non-Standard Auto Insurance Coverage?

If you’re a high-risk driver, you’ll need non-standard auto insurance. Find out what this means for you.

Non-standard auto insurance policies provide coverage specifically for high-risk drivers who don't qualify for standard car insurance policies. The key difference between non-standard and standard coverage is cost. The coverage is the same, but non-standard insurance is quite a bit more expensive. Higher risk means higher rates.

Your reasons for needing a non-standard policy can range from being in a certain age range to having a DUI. Most states require drivers to carry minimum liability car insurance. A driver who has a high-risk auto insurance history may have a difficult time finding the required coverage. Non-standard auto insurance policies are available to make sure that drivers can have that coverage, despite their situation.

This article will cover:

What is non-standard auto insurance? 

Non-standard auto insurance is a type of policy reserved for high-risk drivers. Almost every state requires drivers to carry a minimum limit of auto liability insurance. Non-standard auto insurance policies allow high-risk drivers to meet those requirements. It's important to point out that while non-standard auto insurance may cost more, it doesn't mean more or better coverage. They both provide the same auto coverage, just at different prices.

Auto insurance providers categorize policyholders into three ranks based on risk level:

  1. Non-standard
  2. Standard
  3. Preferred

Non-standard is the most expensive rank of auto insurance, even if the coverage offered is no different from the other two types. The reason for the higher cost is based on a driver's personal factors, such as accident or insurance claim history.

High-risk drivers, by their nature, have a higher chance of filing a claim. In order for an auto insurance company to provide coverage for high-risk drivers, they need to charge higher premiums.

The next rank is standard auto insurance. Drivers with low-risk driving histories often fall into this category. If you have good credit and a low claims history, this is the category you'll probably fall into. The best ranking is preferred status. This is for drivers that insurers considered to be the lowest risk.

Who needs non-standard auto insurance?

You'll need a non-standard policy if you're a high-risk driver. Auto insurers focus on reducing risk, which means reducing the chance of having to pay out on a claim. If you have a high-risk auto insurance history, a standard policy will probably be unavailable to you.

Many people need a non-standard car insurance policy. Non-standard policies make up a considerable portion of the auto insurance industry. The amount of non-standard auto insurance policies underwritten increased from $12 billion in 2014 to $15 billion in 2018, according to AM Best. A large reason for this is the wide range of driver types that require it. These categories include:

Drivers with DUIs

Drivers with DUIs on their insurance records are among the highest risk from an auto insurance standpoint. Even if you live in New Hampshire, you will be required to have the minimum auto liability insurance to drive legally if you have a DUI on your record. Non-standard car insurance is usually the only option for such drivers.

Your insurance claims history

Claims in your auto insurance history are a point of concern for auto insurers. The more claims in your auto insurance history, the higher risk you are.

Driving without insurance

If you let your current auto insurance policy lapse, or you are driving without insurance to begin with, you will probably be put into a high-risk category that will require non-standard auto insurance.


Drivers under 25 and drivers 75 and older are often considered high-risk drivers. With younger drivers, this is due to inexperience. With older drivers, the high-risk status is often due to the decrease in reaction time and physical capabilities. Both age ranges are consistently considered non-standard auto insurance demographics.

Expensive and/or custom cars

Due to the repair and replacement costs of high-end vehicles such as sports cars or custom jobs, auto insurance companies often put the owners of such cars into a non-standard category regardless of their claims history. The payout on claims involving such cars is often very high, and insurers charge higher premiums to offset the cost.

What auto insurance companies offer non-standard insurance?

Many major auto insurance companies have a non-standard insurance department for customers who require it. The better-known auto insurers that offer non-standard policies include:

  • Allstate
  • The General
  • Nationwide
  • Progressive
  • Safeco
  • State Farm
  • Travelers

While they are more popular, going with one of the bigger car insurance companies may not be your cheapest route. Some independent car insurance companies specialize solely in non-standard policies and may provide a cheaper premium than the bigger companies. It's a good idea to compare quotes from multiple providers to see what all your options are.

Find non-standard car insurance quotes

As a last resort, all states and the District of Columbia have measures in place to make sure drivers can meet state minimum liability insurance requirements. If your high-risk driving history is extensive, finding auto insurance through a private insurer may not be possible. State-run risk pools are in place to help you get the coverage you need. This coverage is often very expensive and covers only minimum liability limits, so it shouldn't be your first choice. Check your state's insurance commission website for more details.

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