Standard auto insurance

Insurance companies categorize drivers and coverage tiers to help calculate their risk exposure — to minimize the likelihood of having to shutter the business due to taking on more risk than they can potentially afford to pay out.

A standard insurance policy provides conventional coverage for drivers considered low-risk by insurance companies. These drivers, who typically have good credit, incident-free driving histories, and drive moderate cars, are able to acquire affordable car insurance rates from any of the "big name" insurance companies, like Nationwide, Allstate, and State Farm. As long as you have an average driving history without a pattern of serious infractions or violations, you can expect to get decently priced quotes from many insurance companies.

Similarly, the preferred tier of coverage typically offers the lowest insurance premiums for good drivers with excellent driving histories and credit, and these customers will save the most money because of the lower risk they pose to their insurance company.

Non-standard auto insurance

If you're ever denied insurance coverage from an insurance company or issued a non-renewal, there's a possibility you'll need to seek a non-standard insurance policy instead. These policies are reserved for high-risk drivers and are typically more expensive than standard car insurance policies because of the increased liability high-risk drivers present to an insurance company. Though the level of coverage options differs from insurer to insurer, non-standard drivers can get their bases covered — but be prepared to pay for it. 

The buying process for both standard and non-standard car insurance policies remains the same for the most part — but depending on why you need a non-standard insurance policy, the process may differ. For example, if you need to file an SR-22 after a DUI conviction, you'll need the insurance company to file this form on your behalf to prove to the state that you've acquired adequate car insurance to drive legally.

You might need non-standard insurance if you:
  • Are a young driver under age 25
  • Have poor credit and live in a state that allows insurance companies to use credit to influence premium rates — which the majority of states allow
  • Have a foreign license and no driving record in the U.S.
  • Have a lapse in coverage or no previous coverage
  • Have previous DUIs or serious traffic violations like speeding tickets and reckless driving
  • Have a history of accidents
  • Need an SR-22 form to drive and get insurance
  • Drive a rare car, luxury supercar, or a car with a salvage title

What are the top non-standard car insurance companies?

Some large and well-known car insurance companies offer non-standard policies alongside preferred and standard tiers. Some companies — typically smaller insurers — specialize in providing non-standard insurance at more affordable rates. Below is a list of some top auto insurance companies known to serve the non-standard market, along with our reviews and ratings.

Insurance CompanyThe Zebra's Rating
Direct Auto3/5
The General3/5
Founders Insurance2.5/5
Aspire General2.5/5


As always, you should shop around for auto insurance quotes as much as possible no matter your driving history, credit score, age, or location — especially as a non-standard driver. It's the most effective way to save money on insurance costs, and get the auto insurance coverage you need at an affordable rate.

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Kristine Lee
Kristine LeeManager, Content and Data

Kristine is a licensed insurance agent who joined The Zebra in 2019 as an in-house content researcher and writer.

She is an authority on all things insurance and covers the ins and outs of auto, home, life and renters insurance. Her specialty is in providing data-backed insights and information to help insurance shoppers make informed decisions.

Kristine's insurance expertise and research have been cited by publications such as CNBC, Car and Driver, Business Insider, Yahoo!, The Balance, Nationwide and Elephant.