What is high-risk auto insurance?

High-risk car insurance is really no different than normal car insurance. What is different is the driver.

High-risk drivers have a history of at-fault accidents, speeding tickets or other infractions. Insurance companies aren't eager to provide coverage to these drivers as they are more likely to file claims. Data suggest 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 increased risk, high-risk drivers almost always pay higher auto insurance rates and have fewer choices of car insurance companies.


The best car insurance companies for high-risk drivers

USAA, State Farm and American Family Insurance are three of the best major car insurance companies 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.

American Family Insurance

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American Family Insurance doesn't have as wide a geographic footprint as some other major insurance companies, as it currently serves only 19 states. However, high-risk drivers residing in a state in which policies are available should consider American Family (they even offer policies through Costco). The company's rates usually increase by a relatively small margin after common driving infractions. The company's accident forgiveness policy allows customers to avoid steep rate increases following their first at-fault accident. To be eligible for this coverage you must meet the following criteria:

  • Maintain an accident-free record for five years 
  • Must have held an American Family policy for five years
  • No major violations or infractions

 

State Farm

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State Farm is one of America's largest insurance companies. While State Farm is not often known as the cheapest option, drivers who may be high risk can expect relatively minor increases in their premiums after committing any of a number of different driving violations. The company also offers discounts that may lessen the impact of a poor driving record, including:

  • Enrollment in the State Farm Drive Safe & SaveTM and Steer Clear® programs
  • Driver training or defensive driving courses
  • Vehicle safety discounts
  • Bundling multiple policies 

 

USAA

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USAA is widely known as an affordable car insurance company, and this holds true for high-risk drivers. USAA's car insurance rates do not increase as dramatically as the rates of some of its competitors. However, USAA coverage is not available to everyone. Customers must be members of the military - or their immediate relatives - to purchase a policy. USAA offers accident forgiveness, which can keep your rates from spiking after an at-fault accident. If you qualify for USAA, it could be a great option if you're looking for cheap car insurance from a well-known insurer. Further discounts or other ways for high-risk drivers to save on a USAA car insurance policy include:

  • Enrollment in the SafePilot telematics program
  • Multiple policy bundling
  • Installing an anti-theft device

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. Let's explore some of these common violations and consider the impact they could have on your driving record, insurance rate, and whether or not you may be considered a driver with high risk in the eyes of an insurance company.

At-fault accidents

As a driver, 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 the company insures you in the future. An at-fault car accident increases auto insurance premiums by an average of $845 per year.

In most states, your car insurance rate will go up for three years following an at-fault accident. USAA, State Farm and Nationwide provide the cheapest policies after an at-fault accident. For more information, see our guide to finding insurance after a car accident.

Company Avg. Annual Premium Avg. Monthly Premium
USAA $1,927 $161
State Farm $2,005 $167
Nationwide $2,334 $194
GEICO $2,344 $195
Farmers $2,508 $209
Progressive $2,936 $245
Allstate $3,482 $290
Updated: 09/29/22.

Dynamic auto insurance data methodology

Methodology: The auto insurance rates displayed above and throughout this page are dynamic, meaning the data will refresh when the most recent information is made available. Rates are based on a sample driver profile — a 30-year-old single male driver with a Honda Accord and full coverage. This profile was adjusted based on common pricing factors used by major car insurance companies, like age, coverage level, driving record and others.

Speeding tickets

On average, you can expect your insurance costs to increase by $431 per year after a ticket. Depending on the severity of the traffic 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.

Like an at-fault accident, you can be charged for a ticket for three to five years after a ticket citation. USAA, State Farm and GEICO provide the cheapest rates for drivers with speeding tickets.

Company Avg. Annual Premium Avg. Monthly Premium
USAA $1,635 $136
State Farm $1,872 $156
GEICO $1,906 $159
Nationwide $1,943 $162
Farmers $2,339 $195
Progressive $2,390 $199
Allstate $2,767 $231
Updated: 09/29/22.

Reckless driving

Insurance rates rise by an average of over $1,428 per year after a reckless driving charge — or over $4,000 in extra premium 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 sixth most expensive citation that affects car insurance.

The average premium after a reckless driving charge is $3,187 a year. USAA, State Farm and Progressive provide the cheapest rates after a reckless driving charge.

Company Avg. Annual Premium Avg. Monthly Premium
USAA $1,958 $163
State Farm $2,584 $215
Progressive $2,725 $227
GEICO $2,727 $227
Farmers $2,807 $234
Nationwide $3,114 $259
Allstate $3,413 $284
Updated: 09/29/22.

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 $1,500 per year for auto insurance. Drive smart — don't race on public roads!

In our survey of top insurance companies after a racing citation, we discovered insurance companies charge drivers cited for racing $1,218 per six-month policy. USAA, State Farm and GEICO provide the cheapest options.

Company Avg. Annual Premium Avg. Monthly Premium
USAA $2,448 $204
State Farm $2,624 $219
GEICO $2,774 $231
Farmers $2,823 $235
Progressive $2,856 $238
Nationwide $3,215 $268
Allstate $3,469 $289
Updated: 09/29/22.

DUI

On average, your premium will increase by $1,681 annually after you're charged with a DUI. This comes out to $140 per month in excess premium, making DUIs the second most impactful violation to affect your rate. DUIs result in more property damage, bodily injury and death benefit payouts than any other citation. Regardless of your location, expect your premium to rise by about 96% if you're a driver charged with a DUI or DWI — not to mention any additional fees or legal ramifications.

If you've been charged with a DUI, your cheapest insurance provider might be Progressive, USAA and Farmers. For more information and state-by-state cost breakdowns, check out our guide on shopping for car insurance with a DUI.

Company Avg. Annual Premium Avg. Monthly Premium
Progressive $2,481 $207
USAA $2,530 $211
Farmers $2,558 $213
State Farm $2,652 $221
GEICO $3,230 $269
Nationwide $3,464 $289
Allstate $3,535 $295
Updated: 09/29/22.

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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.

Poor credit

To an insurance company, your credit score is a reflection of what kind of driver you will be. 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.

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. Learn more about how to find car insurance with bad credit.

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
Updated: 09/29/22.

Age

As far as driving is concerned, age matters and youth equates to inexperience behind the wheel of motor vehicles — to put it simply, a young driver is more of a risk. 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.

Below are samples of rates comparing yearly and monthly premiums between people in their 20s versus adults in their 40s. Drivers who are in their 20s should look to USAA, GEICO and Nationwide for the cheapest average rates. Read more about how to find cheap insurance as a young adult.

Cheapest Insurance Companies for Drivers in their 20s
Company Avg. Annual Premium Avg. Monthly Premium
USAA $1,767 $147
GEICO $1,926 $160
Nationwide $2,034 $170
State Farm $2,211 $184
Farmers $2,336 $195
Progressive $2,521 $210
Allstate $3,265 $272
Updated: 09/29/22.
Company Avg. Annual Premium Avg. Monthly Premium
USAA $1,243 $104
Nationwide $1,414 $118
GEICO $1,525 $127
State Farm $1,570 $131
Farmers $1,717 $143
Progressive $1,750 $146
Allstate $2,462 $205
Updated: 09/15/22.

Location

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 states — can impact your premium regardless of your driving record.

Learn more about auto insurance costs by state.

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.

Looking at the data, a driver with the same current coverage but no insurance history pays over $190 more for car insurance than a driver with five years of insurance history. If your insurer 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.

Insurance History Avg. Annual Premium Avg. Monthly Premium
None $1,934 $161
6 Months with 50-100 BI Limit $1,805 $150
1 Year with 50-100 BI Limit $1,794 $149
3 Years with 50-100 BI Limit $1,760 $147
5 Years with 50-100 BI Limit $1,742 $145
Updated: 09/29/22.

Vehicle use

The way in which you use your vehicle can impact your insurance rates, even if you don't see yourself as a driver with especially high risk. 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. As more people become drivers for rideshare companies, it's important to make sure your auto insurance coverage makes sense for the additional risk. Use our guide to compare insurance rates for pleasure use vs. commuter use policies.

Use of Vehicle Avg. Annual Premium Avg. Monthly Premium
Farm $1,660 $138
Pleasure $1,760 $147
Work - One-way commute (less than 10 miles) $1,778 $148
Work - One-way commute (10-15 miles) $1,784 $149
Work - One-way commute (15+ miles) $1,799 $150
Business $2,012 $168
Updated: 09/29/22.

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. Motor vehicles that are capable of off-roading or hitting high speeds, or those with valuable parts, are seen as a risky investment to an auto insurance company. This can mean a potentially higher premium for a driver of these types of vehicles.

Vehicle Type Avg. Annual Premium Avg. Monthly Premium
Sedan $2,258 $188
Truck $1,698 $142
SUV $1,918 $160
Van $1,616 $135
Luxury $2,116 $176
Hybrid/green $2,224 $185

License points

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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 lose your license.

However, your auto 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.


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How to save money on high-risk auto insurance

Exercise caution before filing a collision claim

Collision claims are meant to repair damage to your vehicle when you collide with a fixed object — like another vehicle, a wall or a pole. These claims can dramatically 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.

Remember that a claim is likely to stay on your insurance record for three to five years. 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. In general, don't sweat the small stuff.

Learn more about when and when not to file an insurance claim.

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 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

Driving Comparison

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.

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.

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

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 that you will not be able to legally drive your vehicle without insurance coverage. However, this could be a good solution if you’re on a budget.

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.

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Where to 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, some of which we've listed below — 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. The easiest way to find cheap auto insurance as a high-risk driver is to shop around.

Insurance companies that cater to high-risk drivers

Don't know where to start? Check out these companies first.


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High-risk insurance FAQs

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 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.

 

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

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.

 

What if I can’t find auto insurance coverage?

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.


RECENT QUESTIONS

MIL dropped husband and vehicle off her policy without notifying. He was pulled over and citation given. Is he covered under our alt policy?

Sorry to hear about the situation. Unfortunately, I think your husband's failure to maintain insurance citation will still be valid.
Sep 11, 2019 Lindsay, OK

Whose insurance pays out if a borrowed vehicle is damaged?

I'm very sorry to hear about your crash and these situations can be extremely confusing so I'm glad you came here for your answer. The insurance coverage that is already on the vehicle should act as primary in this situation assuming that the vehicle is insured with comprehensive and collision coverage or possibly uninsured motorist property damage.
Jun 26, 2016 Houston, TX

Can a person I hit force me to pay more for their damage than the actual cost of the repair?

If the two of you can't come to an agreement on the dollar amount then she is well within her right to file a claim for the damage. If you do decide to pay out of pocket I would highly recommend documenting the transaction somehow; either through a receipt, written check, or photo of the transaction.
Jul 2, 2017 Northridge, CA

If I hit two vehicles during the same accident, will I be charged with two at-fault accidents?

Since both of the damaged vehicles were a result of the same incident then it's likely that your insurance company will only consider the entire claim one accident. Our State of Insurance report shows that at-fault accidents have an average impact of $899 per year in additional premium in California.
Jun 30, 2017 Fairfield, CA

Ross Martin photo
Ross MartinManager, Content Quality

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. As a licensed insurance agent, he specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

Ross holds a master's degree from Royal Holloway, University of London and has a background in copywriting and education. As a former teacher, he applies his educational skills to explain insurance concepts in ways that consumers can understand.

Ross's work has been cited by The New York Times, AxiosInvestopedia, The Simple DollarThe BalanceCar and Driver and Fox Business. He has been quoted by CNET, I Drive Safely and Kin Insurance