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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

Credentials
  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

Ross h…

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Mark Friedlander

Director, Corporate Communications, Insurance Information Institute

Mark Friedlander has over 30 years of experience in the insurance industry. He is the Director, Corporate Communications, at the Insurance Informatio…

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

Credentials
  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

Auto insurance for the high-risk driver

If you're considered a high-risk driver, you've likely had trouble finding decent car insurance coverage that doesn't break the bank. Insurance companies see drivers with multiple infractions as more of a financial liability and therefore charge higher rates to compensate. While the high-risk driver might have fewer choices, it's not impossible to find car insurance coverage under these circumstances.

We're here to help. The Zebra recommends starting your search with USAAState Farm and American Family Insurance to get the best rates. Below you'll find our top choices for high-risk auto insurance providers, average rates, and more. 

Key takeaways

  • High-risk auto insurance covers drivers with poor records, leading to higher rates and fewer options
  • USAA, State Farm, and American Family Insurance cater to high-risk drivers with smaller rate hikes and discounts
  • Assigned risk insurance is the last resort for drivers denied coverage elsewhere, but is more expensive
  • To save on high-risk insurance, consider caution with claims, defensive driving courses, improving credit, and comparing quotes

The best car insurance companies for high-risk drivers

As a high risk driver, you have two options: stick with a standard insurance company and pay higher rates for better coverage and service, or try a non-standard carrier that caters to high-risk customers but may have poorer reviews. Let's explore both paths. 

Best standard auto insurance companies

For the major standard car insurance companies, USAA, State Farm and American Family Insurance are three of the best for those with accidents or other infractions on their driving records. While these companies will raise premiums after an accident or other traffic violation, these rate hikes tend to be smaller than those levied by other auto insurance companies. Any of them could be a good fit if you're looking specifically for high-risk auto insurance companies that are reputable and can meet the needs of other drivers in your household, as well. 

For more rates, jump to our table on major insurers' average premiums with infractions. 

American Family

Pros
  • Above average review scores

  • Offers accident forgiveness option for eligible policyholders

  • Small rate increases for driving infractions

Cons
  • Currently only serves 19 states

  • Eligibility requirements for accident forgiveness coverage are strict

State Farm

Pros
  • Minor rate increases after infractions compared to similar companies

  • Robust coverage available nationwide

  • Many discount options available that can help lower rates

Cons
  • Higher overall premiums

USAA

Pros
  • Typically the cheapest car insurance company across the board

  • Offers accident forgiveness

  • Plenty of discounts available

Cons
  • Must meet eligibility requirements (be a member of the military or an immediate relative)

Average annual rates with infractions by company 

Average annual rates by company and number of incidents

Updating data...

Company No violations 1 violation 2 violations
Allstate $2,413 $2,891 $2,526
American Family $1,568 $1,954 $1,820
GEICO $1,542 $2,047 $1,579
Nationwide $1,476 $2,171 $1,476
Progressive $1,882 $2,465 $2,135
State Farm $1,569 $1,957 $1,569
USAA $1,365 $1,749 $1,378

Source: The Zebra

The Zebra’s Dynamic Insurance Rating Tool data methodology

The Zebra’s Dynamic Insurance Rating Tool for home and auto insurance rates utilizes the latest ZIP code-level rate filings from across the U.S., sourced from Quadrant Information Services and S&P Global. These filings, typically updated annually or biennially by insurers, are verified through Quadrant’s QA process and then integrated into The Zebra’s estimator.

The displayed rates are based on a dynamic home and auto profile designed to reflect the content of the page. This profile is tailored to match specific factors such as age, location, and coverage level, which are adjusted based on the page content to show how these variables can impact premiums.

For a comprehensive understanding, see our detailed methodology.

Our agents are ready to help you get insured — no matter how complicated.

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More companies that accept high-risk drivers

Some large and well-known car insurance companies offer non-standard policies alongside preferred and standard tiers. Most non-standard carriers have a smaller geographical footprint, so they may not be available in every state. Our top picks for insurance companies that accept non-standard drivers are GEICO, Progressive, and Kemper as they have garnered the highest review scores. Check out some average rates for other companies that accept non-standard drivers below.

Average premiums for Non-standard Auto Insurance Companies

Updating data...

Company Avg. Annual Premium Avg. Monthly Premium
Bristol West $3,475 $290
Dairyland $5,153 $429
Foremost $3,404 $284
GEICO $1,664 $139
Hallmark $4,202 $350
Infinity $1,771 $148
Progressive $1,911 $159
Safe Auto $3,209 $267

Source: The Zebra

The Zebra has also reviewed four other non-standard auto insurance companies for you to check out: Assurance America, Falcon, The General, and Direct Auto are worth exploring if you're a high risk driver. Our reviews discuss customer satisfaction, coverage options, discounts, and more. However, information on average premiums for these companies is limited, which makes it hard to calculate a fair rating.


Finding car insurance when you've been denied coverage

Because of the risk some drivers present, there are instances where no auto insurance company — not even non-standard insurers, some of which we've listed here — will issue you a policy regardless of how much you're willing to pay. In these unique circumstances, assigned risk insurance comes into play.[1] 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 more expensive than other forms of auto insurance.

Being “too risky” for an insurance company isn’t a definable quality. The easiest way to find cheap auto insurance as a high-risk driver is to shop around.


What driving factors make you a high-risk driver?

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.

First, insurers typically look at the number of violations or citations you've received. Each infraction typically results in a rate hike, but the type of violation and quantity push you further into high-risk territory. If you have one or more of the following points on your record, you may be considered high risk: 

Check out the table below to see average rates from top companies for each of these violations. 

Average auto insurance premiums by company and violation type

Updating data...

Company No violation At-fault accident Reckless driving Speeding Racing DUI
Allstate $2,413 $3,482 $3,413 $2,767 $3,469 $3,535
Progressive $1,882 $2,936 $2,725 $2,390 $2,856 $2,481
Farmers $1,786 $2,508 $2,807 $2,339 $2,823 $2,558
GEICO $1,542 $2,344 $2,727 $1,906 $2,774 $3,230
Nationwide $1,476 $2,334 $3,114 $1,943 $3,215 $3,464
State Farm $1,569 $2,005 $2,584 $1,872 $2,624 $2,652
USAA $1,365 $1,927 $1,958 $1,635 $2,448 $2,530

Source: The Zebra

Comparing your car insurance options is quick, simple and hassle-free.

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What non-driving factors make you a high-risk driver?

While violations and accidents can lead to higher premiums, a number of personal factors can also influence car insurance rates.

These factors are non-driving related, but can still have a significant impact on your car insurance premiums. However, every state has different laws on the books, meaning that some of these factors are not as impactful as others. 

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Age

To your insurer, age matters. Auto 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. Read more about how to find cheap insurance as a young adult.

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Location
Because insurance is priced by ZIP code and regulated by your state, your location impacts car insurance rates. Learn more about auto insurance costs by state.
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Insurance coverage history

Gaps or lapses in auto insurance coverage 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. According to our data, 33% of our customers are uninsured at the time of quoting.[2] 

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Vehicle use

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. Compare insurance rates for pleasure use vs. commuter use policies.

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Vehicle type

Car insurance rates will vary by vehicle type as well. Owning a high-performance vehicle is considered an added risk by insurance companies, and can mean a potentially higher premium for a driver of these types of vehicles.

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License points

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

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Poor credit

To an insurance company, your credit score is a reflection of what kind of driver you will be. Our data states that 14% of Zebra customers have poor credit scores.[2] Federal Trade Commission (FTC) studies show drivers with low credit scores are more likely to file a claim than 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.

Car Insurance Rates by Credit Tier

Updating data...

Credit Tier Avg. Annual Premium Avg. Monthly Premium
Poor $3,147 $262
Below Fair $2,461 $205
Good $1,760 $147
Very Good $1,627 $136
Excellent $1,506 $125

Source: The Zebra

If you have poor or low credit, Nationwide, GEICO and USAA will likely offer the cheapest policies.

If using your credit score to determine your insurance premium seems unfair to you, you're not alone — some states consider credit score car insurance profiling a discriminatory practice and ban its use in determining car insurance rates.

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Agent insight: When am I no longer considered a high-risk driver?

"Unfortunately, the only real way to shake off a "high-risk" distinction is with time. To an insurance company, customers are no longer considered high risk after remaining infraction-free for some years. The more serious the violation, the more years insurance companies want to see pass: 3-5 years with no accidents and 7-10 years with no license suspensions or revocations will mean you are no longer high-risk."

Nicholas Fernandez — Senior manager of agency at The Zebra

How to save money on high-risk auto insurance

Exercise caution before filing a collision claim

These claims can dramatically increase your premium. So even if it seems cheaper in the short term to file a claim, you could ultimately end up paying much more in the long run. See our guide discussing when and when not to file an insurance claim (featuring our free claims calculator tool!) for more information.

Should you file a claim?

  • Get an estimate for the out-of-pocket expense at a local repair shop
  • Use The Zebra's State of Insurance study or claims calculator to see how much an at-fault accident would raise rates in your state
  • Compare the out-of-pocket expenses to the rate increase plus your deductible in case it's cheaper to pay for the damage yourself

Take a defensive driving course

This solution won’t help if you already have the ticket on your record, but it’s something to keep in mind. Some states even allow you to take a defensive driving course in lieu of having points added to your record. Consider our partner iDriveSafely for an online defensive driving course. Available in nearly every state, the skills you learn in this course may help you become a safer driver, thus avoiding traffic violations and accidents. Learn more about iDriveSafely's defensive driving courses.

Car dashboard--animated

Improve your credit score

Improving your credit score from poor to excellent can save you more than $1,400 per year on auto insurance! On average, you can save about 17% with every credit score bracket you move up. According to The Zebra's rate data, drivers with poor credit (scores between 300 and 579) pay $137 more per month for car insurance than drivers with very good credit (between 740 and 799).

credit

Go car-free for a while

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 that a gap in insurance coverage can lead to higher rates down the line, so a non-owner policy could be a good option in the meantime.

Compare insurance quotes

This is the most effective way to save money on auto insurance. Not all insurance companies will rate or charge you for your violations equally. There is a lot of variation between companies and the only way to know you're getting the best rate possible is to compare auto insurance quotes near the end of each policy period.

compare quotes

Get personalized insurance rates in less than 5 minutes.

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High-risk insurance FAQs

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 96%, which adds up to an extra $1,680 per year. On the other hand, a speeding ticket could increase the annual cost by an average of $431.

This depends on your individual situation but among the major carriers, USAA tends to provide the cheapest coverage for drivers in a number of high-risk categories, such as at-fault accidents and speeding tickets. 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. Chances are a major carrier will not offer the cheapest rate so it might be worth looking into a carrier that specializes in high-risk 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 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, most states have what is known as a high-risk pool. Your state can mandate that insurance companies provide auto coverage to these drivers, but beware this coverage is not cheap.


High-risk car insurance by state

Sources:
  1. Assigned Risk. Legal Information Institute

  2. Anonymized User Survey. The Zebra


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About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance editorial content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.