How To Shop For Car Insurance With a Bad Driving Record


So you've made a few driving mistakes. That doesn't mean you have to pay sky-high insurance rates.

reckless driving makes it hard to shop for car insurance
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Trying to shop for car insurance can be stressful enough, let alone if your driving record is looking spotty. We’ve rounded up information all about it to answer your questions for you—from speeding tickets to DUIs, were giving you the 411 on how to get a decent rate, even if your driving history is currently less-than-decent. First off:

What goes into car insurance rates anyway?

We’ve gathered several factors that go into how your car insurance rates are determined:

  • Gender—Women generally pay less than men
  • Age—If you are between the ages of 16-25 you will have some of the highest rates.
  • Where you live—If you live in a traffic-packed area or have a high theft rate your premium will go up.
  • The make of your car—If your make scored highly on safety crash tests you could be rewarded with lower rates.
  • Your credit-based insurance score—Statistics show drivers with better insurance scores are less likely to get into accidents.
  • How you use your car—How you intend to use your car could affect your rates
  • Your prior insurance history—Statistics show drivers who have not had a gap in coverage are less likely to get into an accident.
  • Your driving record—The cleaner your driving record, the lower your premium.

Now that we know some of the factors that go into the determination of your car insurance rates, let’s break down a big question:

Are you labeled as a high-risk driver when you shop for car insurance?

Several things can play into whether or not you are labeled as a high-risk driver:
DMV.org states that there is not an exact definition of a high-risk driver; instead, it’s anyone “who has a higher potential of filing a claim on his or her car insurance than the average driver. Car insurance companies often see high-risk drivers as undesirable, as they may end up costing them more than they make in the end. There are several reasons why an auto insurance carrier might consider you high-risk. There is no uniform definition as to what exactly a high-risk driver is.” So since there is not an exact definition as to what a high-risk driver is, let’s jump into the reasons that could possibly land someone a “risky” label:

DUI/DWI: Driving under the influence or while intoxicated not only has criminal penalties, but also has serious consequences when it comes to your auto insurance. If you receive a DWI and/or a DUI you will be classified as a high risk driver, your insurance rates will skyrocket, you will be required to file an SR-22 and you could possibly be denied car insurance coverage all together.

Car insurance companies often see high-risk drivers as undesirable.

Speeding tickets: According to esurance.com, “Speeding is one of the most common moving violations. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, speeding is a factor in roughly 30 percent of all fatal accidents and speeding-related crashes killed nearly 10,000 people in 2013 alone.” Speeding ticket severities vary: The faster you speed, the worse the penalty, of course. Going up to 20 mph over the speed limit may only get 1-3 points added to your driving record. However, illegal street rating, reckless driving, excessive speeding, driving without a license and any traffic violation that results in a fatality are all reasons for your car insurance company to possibly classify you as a high-risk driver.

No prior insurance: Driving without insurance is against the law. If you are caught driving without an up-to-date insurance policy you are subject to fines and other penalties. If you do not immediately begin another insurance policy after dropping one you are very likely to be considered a high-risk driver once you do reinstate your prior or new insurance policy.

If you are a high-risk driver or, have multiple tickets and/or accidents, here is how you can still get a good rate:

Tickets: Consider taking a driver safety course, also known as a defensive driving course. These classes not only create better driving habits but can also lower your car insurance rates.

Accidents: Fender-benders and minor car accidents do not always make rates go up. Major accidents are typically the ones that will make your rates rise. Typically, the sub-charge for major accidents (in most states) can follow you around for up to three years, if you avoid another accident in those three years. On the bright side, fender-benders and minor accidents do not always make rates go up. According to esurance.com, “Car insurance rates don’t always go up after an accident. Minor accidents and fender benders may not translate to a rate increase — particularly if you have a history of otherwise-safe driving. The same goes for fault. If you weren’t at fault in an accident, your premium could stay the same. Some insurance policies also include accident forgiveness, which rewards safe-driving patterns by looking at your driving record on the whole (and not just a recent incident).”

Minor accidents might not raise your rates.

The bottom line is, there are ways to shop for car insurance when your driving record has seen better days, but, at the end of the day, a cleaner record will make for a smoother shopping process. If you are needing to spiffy up your record take some of our tips into consideration and remember to be alert on the road and drive safely.