Car Insurance for High-Risk Drivers

Even as a high-risk driver, you can still find affordable auto insurance.

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What is high-risk car insurance?

Car insurance companies are built on anticipating and accounting for risk. If you’re a high-risk driver, you’re not an insurance company’s dream candidate. Your status as a high-risk driver — to an insurance company — is comprised of your behavior behind the wheel and non-driving factors. Your driving and claims records are primary indicators of your “risk level,” but other factors include age, credit score, and location.

Table of contents: cheap car insurance for high-risk drivers
  1. High-risk driving — driving rating factors
  2. High-risk driving — non-driving factors
  3. How do license points affect car insurance?
  4. How can I save on high-risk auto insurance?
  5. Where can I get a high-risk car insurance policy?
  6. FAQs

 


 


Am I a high-risk driver? Driving factors:

When an insurance company calculates your premium for your auto insurance policy, they assess driving and non-driving factors to determine how much risk you pose. Insurers typically look at the number of:


At-fault accidents

An at-fault accident — especially with a bodily injury payout — can be a major indicator of insurance risk. It’s not only a financial burden for the insurance company, which is responsible for damages through liability coverage but an ongoing accumulation of risk as they insure you moving forward. An at-fault accident increases car insurance premiums by about $767 per year.

Time after at-fault accident
Average increase
Increase at 6 months
$383
Increase at 12 months
$767
Increase at 3 years
$2,301


In most states, your car insurance rates will go up for three years following an at-fault accident. Below are car insurance premiums after an at-fault accident by popular insurance carriers.

Car insurance provider

6-Month premium

Allstate$1,508
Farmers$1,113
GEICO$998
Liberty Mutual$1,179
Nationwide$1,087
Progressive$1,386
State Farm$808
USAA$644

For more information, see our guide here.

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Speeding tickets

On average, you can expect your insurance costs to increase $337 per year after a ticket. Depending on the severity of the violation, the insurance consequences of a ticket will vary. Less severe violations — like speeding — have a smaller impact on insurance premiums. But don't be fooled: speeding tickets are seen as precursors of more serious incidents, resulting in raised insurance rates.

Length of time after ticket

Premium increase

Increase at 6 months

$168

Increase at 12 months

$337

Increase at 3 Years

$1,011


Like an at-fault accident, you can be charged for a ticket for three to five years after a ticket citation. Below are some average car insurance premiums you can expect by insurance carrier.

Insurance provider

6-Month premium after speeding: 11-15 MPH > limit

Allstate$1,140
Farmers$966
GEICO$758
Liberty Mutual$997
Nationwide$864
Progressive$1,033
State Farm$738
USAA$548

 

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Reckless driving

Insurance rates rise by an average of over $500 per six-month policy period after a reckless driving charge — or over $3,000 over the course of the three-year chargeable period. In many states, reckless driving is defined as driving dangerously and without care, potentially resulting in bodily harm and/or property damage, and is considered a major moving violation. A reckless driving charge is the fifth most expensive citation that affects car insurance.

Time after reckless driving charge

Average increase

Increase at 6 months

$519

Increase at 12 months

$1,038

Increase at 3 years

$3,114

The average premium after a reckless driving charge is $1,252 for a six-month policy. Your cheapest option, according to our data, is State Farm if you don't qualify for USAA.

Insurance provider

6-Month premium after reckless driving

Allstate$1,767
Farmers$1,432
GEICO$1,227
Liberty Mutual$1,275
Nationwide$1,481
Progressive$1,188
State Farm$965
USAA$681

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Racing

Because of the dangers associated with racing, this citation carries some very costly insurance consequences and is the second most expensive violation to affect car insurance premiums. Drivers charged with a racing violation were charged an additional $1,131 per year for auto insurance. Be smart — don’t race on public roads!

Time after racing charge

Average increase

Increase at 6 months

$565

Increase at 12 months

$1,131

Increase at 3 Years

$3,393

In our survey of top insurance companies after a racing citation, you can expect to pay about $1,268 per six-month policy. This rate is almost 64% more than what a driver without citations would pay for car insurance.

Insurance provider

6-Month premium after racing violation

Allstate$1,768
Farmers$1,304
GEICO$1,203
Liberty Mutual$1,275
Nationwide$1,563
Progressive$1,190
State Farm$975
USAA$862

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DUI

On average, your premium will increase $549 for a six-month policy after you’re charged with a DUI. This comes out to over $90 per month in excess premium. DUIs result in more property damage, bodily injury, and death benefit payouts than any other citation. Regardless of location, expect your premium to rise by about 71% if you’re charged with a DUI or DWI — not to mention any additional fees or legal ramifications. For more information and state-by-state cost breakdowns, check out our guide on DWI and auto insurance.

Length of time after DUI conviction

Average increase

Increase at 6 months

$549

Increase at 12 months

$1,099

Increase at 3 Years

$3,297


If you’ve been charged with a DUI, your cheapest insurance carrier might be USAA or State Farm.

Insurance company

6-Month premium after DUI

Allstate$1,817
Farmers$1,316
GEICO$1,323
Liberty Mutual$1,317
Nationwide$1,546
Progressive$1,002
State Farm$987
USAA$876

 

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What makes you a high-risk driver? Non-driving factors:

Many factors influence car insurance rates — some of which are unrelated to your driving history. Non-driving red flags commonly used by car insurance companies include:

 

Poor credit

To an insurance company, your credit score is a reflection of what kind of driver you will be. Studies by the FTC have shown that drivers with low credit scores are more likely to file a claim than are drivers with better credit — and when drivers with poor credit do file claims, they lead to more expensive payouts. Any time more risk is involved, your insurance company will protect itself by charging an inflated premium.

FICO credit tier

Average 6-month premium

Very poor (300-579)

$1,447

Fair (580-669)

$1,159

Good (670-739)

$966

Very Good (740-799)

$812

Exceptional (800-850)

$674


If you have poor or low credit, consider the following insurance providers as a good jumping-off point for your search for affordable car insurance.

Insurance companyVery poor (300-579)Fair (580-669)
Allstate$1,692$1,148
Farmers$1,293$898
GEICO$1,087$697
Liberty Mutual$1,921$1,074
Nationwide$1,059$840
Progressive$1,658$1,018
State Farm$1,435$804
USAA$1,199$651

If this policy of using your credit score to determine your insurance premium seems unfair to you, you're not alone. California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts do not follow this practice. These states consider credit score car insurance profiling a discriminatory practice. For more information on finding car insurance with bad credit, see here.

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Age

As far as driving is concerned, youth equates to inexperience — and this means risk. Insurance companies see teenage drivers as high-risk due to their lack of driving experience, which correlates to an increased likelihood of filing a claim. If you’re a young driver looking for car insurance savings, check out our guide here.

Below are samples of rates comparing six-month premiums between young adults in their 20s versus adults in their 40s.

Insurance companyDrivers in their 20sDrivers in their 40s
Allstate$1,273$989
Farmers$1,064$795
GEICO$750$583
Liberty Mutual$1,053$718
Nationwide$949$676
Progressive$1,081$781
State Farm$853$624
USAA$659$479

 

Location

Because insurance is priced by zip code and regulated by your state, your location impacts car insurance rates. Living in a state with onerous insurance regulations — such as Michigan or other no-fault insurance states — can impact your premium regardless of your driving record.

State6-Month premium
Michigan$1,548
Louisiana$1,189
Florida$1,154
Kentucky$1,104
Rhode Island$1,051

 

Insurance coverage history

Gaps or lapses in your auto insurance are seen as red flags by insurance companies. Drivers with uninterrupted histories of carrying car insurance with high coverage levels are seen as more financially responsible than drivers with coverage lapses.

Insurance history6-Month premium
None$876
6 Months$813
1 Year$803
3 Years$781
5 Years$766


Looking at the data above, a driver with the same current coverage but no insurance history pays over $100 more for car insurance than a driver with five years of insurance history. If your insurance company sees you as financially responsible, they will reward you with a lower premium. Certain insurers won't even draft a policy for a driver who hasn't maintained continuous coverage for the past six months.

 

Vehicle use

The way in which you use your vehicle can impact your insurance rates. If you use your vehicle for rideshare or commercial purposes, your insurance company might deny coverage outright based on the risk. Using your vehicle in high-density areas — and driving more miles — warrants the premium increase.

Vehicle use

6-Month premium

Farm$732
Pleasure$774
Work/commute, less than 10 miles$777
Work/commute, 10-15 miles$779
Work/commute, 15+ miles$782
Business$859

See more info here to see a comparison of pleasure use vs. commuter car insurance.

 

Vehicle type

Owning a high-performance vehicle is considered by insurance companies as an added risk. Vehicles that are capable of off-roading, reaching high speeds, or have rare or valuable parts are seen as a risky investment to an insurance company.

Vehicle type

6-Month premium

Sedan$1,137
Truck$865
SUV$967
Van$844
Luxury$1,045
Hybrid/green$1,055

 

License points and your insurance

Many states use “points" systems to score driving violations. Each violation is tied to a specific number of “points” that stay on your record for a length of time dependent on your state and the severity of the violation. If you earn a certain number of points, you can lose your license.

However, your insurance company doesn’t cite points directly — they use your Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) to see the information that comprises your points total. Your MVR will provide a comprehensive list of any tickets you have been issued, as well as any traffic collisions. Although points on your driver's license can be reflective of a high premium, they do not lead directly to higher premiums.

If you're looking for further information regarding points on your license and actual premiums, see our guide here.

 

How to save on high-risk car insurance

Below are some quick ways you can save on car insurance as a high-risk driver.

Exercise caution before filing collision claims

Collision claims are meant to repair damage to your vehicle when you collide with a fixed object — like another vehicle, a wall, a pole, etc. As we demonstrated above, these claims can drastically increase your premium. But depending on the value of the damage, you could pay more than in premium surcharges than the out-of-pocket expense. If you're unsure whether to file a claim, follow our guide below.

  • Get an estimate for the out-of-pocket expense at a local repair shop.
  • Use our State of Insurance analysis to see how much an at-fault accident would raise rates in your state. Consider that value cumulatively over three years.
  • Compare the out-of-pocket expenses to the rate increase plus your deductible. If it is cheaper to pay for the damage yourself, do that. 

For example:

You back into your mailbox and cause $1,300 worth of damage to your vehicle. In the state of California, the average collision claim with this amount of damage raised rates $1,412 per year. Over three years, this increase would be multiplied to $4,236. If you have a $500 deductible, your total amount paid for this single claim would be $4,736. In this situation, you would save yourself $3,436 by paying out-of-pocket. For more information on whether to file a claim or not, see our guide here.

Take a defensive driving course

Take the course before the ticket is reported to your insurance company. Although this solution won’t help if you already have the ticket on your record, it’s something to keep in mind in case you are considering signing up for an expensive class. The skills you learn in your course may actually help you become a safe driver, thus avoiding traffic violations and accidents.


Improve your credit score

Improving your credit score from poor to excellent can save you more than $1,500 per year on auto insurance! On average, you can save about 17% with every credit score bracket you move up to.


Wait for your violations to expire

Stay on top of when your violation will expire. When the clock runs out, contact your insurance company to ensure you’re not being charged for the violation after the period has passed. Your insurance rate will be “re-run” every six months, but if your violation subsides prior to that, you need to reach out to your company directly. Chances are they will not adjust the rate unprompted.

Go car-free for a while

At the end of the day, it’s hard to undo mistakes you have already made. If you’re a high-risk driver, you’re going to be paying quite a bit more for car insurance. If you can’t afford car insurance currently and can get by with public transportation, a bicycle, or rideshare services, try going car-free. Bear in mind, you will not be able to legally drive your vehicle without insurance coverage. However, this could be a good solution if you’re out of options and low on money.


Compare rates

This is the best thing you can do. Not all insurance companies will rate or charge you for your violations equally. As you can see with the insurer data we displayed above, there is a lot of variation between companies. The only way to know you're getting the best rate possible is to compare auto insurance quotes near the end of every policy period. Enter your ZIP code below to get started.

 

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Where can I buy high-risk auto insurance?

Because of the risk some drivers present, there are instances where no auto insurance company — not even non-standard insurers, which specifically cater to the high-risk category of drivers — will issue you a policy regardless of how much you're willing to pay. In these unique circumstances, assigned risk insurance comes into play. Assigned risk insurance is a last resort for drivers with very poor driving records seeking car insurance.

In order to qualify for assigned risk insurance, you need to prove you've tried and failed to get insurance multiple times and have been denied based on your driving record. Once that happens, an insurance agent will submit a report to the state notifying them that you need assigned risk insurance. Unfortunately, assigned risk insurance is typically expensive.

Being “too risky” for an insurance company isn’t a definable quality. Your best bet is to find affordable high-risk auto insurance is to shop around and compare quotes

Below are some companies that cater to high-risk drivers: 

 

FAQs

 

What is high-risk car insurance?

High-risk car insurance is really no different than normal car insurance. What is different, however, is the driver. Insurance companies aren’t eager to provide coverage to drivers with a history of at-fault accidents, speeding tickets, or other infractions, as they are more likely to file claims. Similarly, data would suggest that drivers who are younger, have bad credit, or live in certain ZIP codes are also more likely to file a claim or have one filed against them. Because of this added risk, high-risk drivers almost always pay higher insurance rates and have a smaller choice of insurance companies to choose from.

How much is high-risk car insurance?

High-risk drivers will pay more for car insurance. However, the amount your premiums increase will vary depending on a number of variables. For example, a DUI/DWI conviction can raise your premiums by around 71%, which adds up to an extra $549 for a six-month policy. On the other hand, a speeding ticket could increase the cost of a six-month policy by an average of $168.

What makes a driver high-risk?

Driving and non-driving factors alike might cause an insurance company to classify a driver as high-risk. Driving factors include things such as a history of at-fault accidents, a high number of claims, a hit-and-run, or a DUI. Non-driving factors include a driver’s age, gender, address, vehicle, or credit score (except in Hawaii, California, and Massachusetts). Any of these factors could cause an insurance company to see you as an elevated risk.

Which company has the cheapest car insurance for high-risk drivers?

This depends on your individual situation. However, among the major carriers, USAA tends to provide the cheapest coverage for drivers in a number of high-risk categories, such as poor credit, at-fault accidents, and speeding tickets among others. However, as USAA is only available to those in the military (or their immediate family members), other carriers offering lower rates include GEICO, Nationwide, and State Farm, though prices depend on the offense. Chances are a major carrier will not offer the cheapest rate. For this, it might be worth looking into a non-standard carrier specializing in high-risk insurance.

What if I can’t find car insurance?

If you are denied coverage from a standard carrier, your best bet is to look for what’s known as a non-standard carrier. These insurance companies specialize in insuring drivers who don’t have the cleanest of driving records. While you may forego some of the perks offered by standard carriers like GEICO or State Farm, you will be more likely to find coverage. However, if your driving record is such that even non-standard carriers are wary of taking you (those with a hit-and-run or multiple DUI convictions), most states have what is known as a high-risk pool. Your state can mandate that insurance companies provide auto coverage to these drivers. Be aware, however, that this coverage is not likely to be cheap.

 

Learn more about high-risk car insurance in your state:


AlabamaKansas
AlaskaLouisiana
ArizonaMaine
ArkansasMaryland
CaliforniaMassachusetts
ColoradoMinnesota
ConnecticutMississippi
DelawareMissouri
FloridaMontana
GeorgiaNebraska
HawaiiNevada
IdahoNew Hampshire
IllinoisWisconsin
IndianaWyoming
IowaWashington, D.C.

Ava Lynch LinkedIn

Based in Austin, TX, Ava has been in the insurance industry as a licensed agent for 4-plus years. Ava is currently one of The Zebra’s resident property insurance experts and has been featured in publications such as US News Report, GasBuddy, and Yahoo! Finance.