Cheap Car Insurance for High-Risk Drivers

Even as a high-risk driver, you still have a lot of options for cheap insurance

What is Cheap Car Insurance as a High-Risk Driver?

An insurance company’s livelihood is built on anticipating and avoiding risk. So, if you’re a high-risk driver, you’re not exactly every insurance company’s dream candidate. A high-risk driver, to an insurance company, is reflective of how you drive as well as non-driving factors. Your driving and claims record are big indicators of your “risk level” but it can also mean your age, your credit score, and your location. So, let’s get to it - what is cheap car insurance for high-risk drivers?

Exploring car insurance when you’re a high-risk driver:
  1. Why does my driving profile label me as a high-risk driver?
  2. Are there other factors that could label me as a high-risk driver?
  3. What about license points?
  4. How can I save?
  5. Where can I get a high-risk policy?

What makes you risky: driving factors

When an insurance company builds your insurance rate, they look at driving and non-driving factors. This is the same for determining risk. In terms of driving factors that can lead to you being a high-risk driver, insurance companies usually look at the number of at-fault claims, tickets, violations, or citations.

At-Fault Accidents

Having multiple at-fault accidents, especially if there were bodily injury payouts, can be a huge risk indicator for an insurance company. It’s not only a financial burden for the insurance company, as they are responsible for the damages through your liability coverage, but the ongoing consequences of insuring a now “risky” driver present them with new challenges. In the chart below, an at-fault accident will increase your premium by about $612 per year.

Increase at 6 months Increase at 12 months Increase at 3 Years
$306 $612 $1,837

As you can see, there is a rate change over 3 years. That’s because, for most violations in most states, you will be charged for up to 3 years for an accident on your premium. (Bummer, dude.)


Depending on the kind and severity of the ticket, the consequence on your insurance can vary. Less severe tickets, like speeding, tend to have a lesser effect on your premium. But don't be fooled: speeding tickets are often seen as precursors for more serious incidents in the eyes of an insurance company. And thus, as the amount of your speeding increases so will the amount of your premium increase.

Type of Speeding Ticket Increase at 6 months Increase at 12 months Increase at 3 Years
6-10 MPH Over $135 $270 $809
11-15 MPH Over $141 $281 $843
11-20 MPH Over $153 $305 $914
21-25 MPH Over $165 $330 $990
In A School Zone $139 $278 $835
In a 65 MPH Zone $194 $387 $1,162

Reckless Driving

For more states, reckless driving is a major moving violation and is usually categorized as driving the vehicle dangerously and without care — that can (or did) result in bodily harm and/or property damage. After being charged with racing or a DUI, our studies found that a reckless driving charge was the most expensive violation in the US — with an average premium increase in nearly $500 per 6-month premium or about $3,000 for your 3-year chargeable time.

Increase at 6 months Increase at 12 months Increase at 3 Years
$499 $997 $2,992


Because of the high risk to life and property associated with racing, professional races and sporting events (in general) are excluded from a standard auto policy. Given this, it shouldn’t be a surprise that if you’re cited for racing, you will be heavily charged by your insurance company. In 2016, drivers who were charged with a racing violations were charged an additional $1,045 a year for auto insurance. Be smart — don’t race your vehicle!

Increase at 6 months Increase at 12 months Increase at 3 Years
$523 $1,045 $3,135


A DUI, or driving under the influence, is a big no-no for an insurance company. DUIs result in more property damage, bodily injury, and death benefit payouts than any other citation. Regardless of what state you’re in, you can expect your premium to rise by about 40% if you’re charged with a DUI. Not to mention any additions fees you’ll be responsible for. For more information on DUI and your insurance, check out our guide here.

Increase at 6 months Increase at 12 months Increase at 3 Years
$529 $1,057 $3,171

What makes you risky: non-driving factors

As we stated, there’s a lot of things that go into your driving profile which are and are not reflective of your driving habits. Let’s explore the ones that relate to high-risk driving that aren’t representative of how you drive.

Poor Credit

To an insurance company, your credit is a reflection of what kind of driver you will be for one big reason: correlation statistics. Studies by the FTC have shown that drivers with low credit scores are more likely to file a claim than drivers with higher claims. Plus when they do file a claim, the claims tend to be more expensive payouts. And as we have discussed, any time there is a chance of financial risk, your insurance company will protect themselves from monetary loss with a high premium.

Poor Below Fair Fair Good Excellent
$2,411 $1,934 $1,571 $1,323 $1,130

If this policy of using your credit score to determine your insurance premium seems unfair to you, you're definitely not alone. California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts do not follow this practice as they feel it is discriminatory.


Being a young driver equates to an inexperienced and potentially-costly customer to an insurance company. If you’re a teenager, insurance companies see you as high-risk because you’re inexperienced behind the wheel and thus more likely to engage in behavior that could result in a claims payout. If you’re a young driver and want more information on how to save, check out our guide here.


Because insurance is zip-code specific and state regulated, your location plays a big role in what you pay for auto insurance. Living in a state with high insurance regulations — such as Michigan or other states with no-fault insurance— can impact your premium regardless of how great of a driver you are.

State Premium
Michigan $2,087
Delaware $2,073
Oklahoma $1,990
Kentucky $1,925
Texas $1,762

At a zip code level, if you live in an area that is prone to flooding, has a history of accidents, or has a high population, you can expect your premium to be higher to respond to that additional threat.

Insurance History

Having gaps in your automobile insurance can be seen as a red flag to insurance companies. Drivers with a long history of car insurance with high coverage options are often seen as more financially responsible than drivers without. If your insurance company sees you as financially responsible, they will reward you with a lower premium. Moreover, you should consider that certain insurance companies won't even write policy if you haven't had continuous coverage in the last 6 months because of perceived risk.

Insurance History Avg Annual Premium
No Insurance $1,460
1 Year with 50-100 BI Limit $1,356
3 Years with 50-100 BI Limit $1,323
1 Year with 100-300 BI Limit $1,317
5 Years with 50-100 BI Limit $1,311
3 Years with 100-300 BI Limit $1,287
5 Years with 100-300 BI Limit $1,276

Vehicle Use

The way in which you use your vehicle can have a big impact on your insurance. For insurance, if you use your vehicle for ridesharing or commercial-type reasons, your insurance company might deny coverage outright based on the risk. As you will be using your vehicle in high-traffic areas (picking up passengers) and using your vehicle more often, the probability you will file a claim is statistically significant enough to warrant an increased premium.

Vehicle Use Premium
Farm $1,248
Pleasure $1,323
Work/Commute, less than 10mi $1,329
Work/Commute, 10-15mi $1,335
Work/Commute, 15mi $1,345
Business $1,475

Vehicle Type

Owning a high performance vehicle, regardless of anything we have previously listed, will be considered an additional risk. Vehicles that are capable of off-roading or have parts that are more rare/expensive to replace will be seen as a risky investment to an insurance company.

Sedan: Chevry Cruze Truck: Toyota Tacoma SUV: Honda CRV Van: Honda Odyssey Luxury: Acura RDX Hybrid: Toyota Priuis
$1,376 $1,363 $1,232 $1,260 $1,429 $1,469

License points and your insurance

Many states, but not all, use a “points system.” Basically, each violation is tied to a specific number of “points” that stay on your record for a length of time that is dependent on both your state and the violation. If you earn a certain number of points, you could lose your license.

However, your insurance company doesn’t use the points directly — they use your Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) to see the information that is usually represented by your points. Your MVR will provide a comprehensive list of any tickets you have been issued, as well as any traffic collisions. So, although points on your driver license can be reflective of a high premium, it is not directly tied to your premium.

How can I save?

Everything we have discussed so far outlines just how costly it is to be a high-risk driver. So, let's break down how you can save.

Take a defensive driving course

The trick with this is to take the course before the ticket (usually speeding) is reported. 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. Plus, the skills you learn in your course may actually help you become a defensive driver and thus not rack up as many citations or accidents.

Improve your credit score

Improving your credit score from poor to excellent can save you over $1,200 per year on auto insurance! Each credit score improvement is an average of 17% annual savings.

Wait for your violations to expire

Stay on top of when your violation will expire — and when they do, contact your insurance company to make sure you’re not being charged for the violation after the period has passed. Your insurance rate will be “re-run” every 6 months or whatever the length of your policy period is, but if your violation subsides prior to that, you need to reach out to your company directly. Chances are they will not do that for you.

Shop around

It is vital to shop around for car insurance every 6 months if you’re considered a high-risk driver. If you're considered a high-risk driver because of non-driving characteristics, this step is especially important. As things like your age and location are guaranteed to change, it's important to shop for car insurance often to see if you could be saving. Only with The Zebra can you compare hundreds of companies at once.

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. So, if you can’t afford car insurance currently and can get by with public transportation or rideshare services, trying going car-free for a little while. 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 money.

Where to buy high-risk auto insurance?

Because of the risk some drivers present, there are instances where no insurance company will issue you a policy — regardless of price. In these unique circumstances, there is something called Assigned Risk Insurance. Here, drivers with poor driving records are assigned to an insurance company when you hit your last resort.

In order to get this kind of insurance, you usually have to prove you have tried and failed to get insurance multiple times and have been denied based on your driving record. Once that happens, an insurance agent (potentially the last company you try) will submit a report to the state notifying them that you need assigned risk insurance. You should consider, however, that assigned risk insurance is pretty pricey. So you should not assume you fall into this category easily.

Whether or not you’re “too risky” for an insurance company isn’t a definable quality. Your best bet to find an insurance company to provide you with affordable auto insurance is to shop around with as many companies at once. Do that here with us at The Zebra.

Compare over 200 insurance companies at once!

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