Car insurance for high-risk drivers

How to get cheaper coverage when you have tickets or accidents on your driving record.

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Your car insurance rates are largely based on how much of a risk an insurer thinks you might be on the road. Getting in a car accident or making too many claims could put you in the high-risk category, which means higher premiums. Luckily you have options to improve your driving record and reduce your risk to get better insurance rates.

Top 7 ways to save on high-risk car insurance

Find ways to drop your premium:

  1. Keep an eye out for discounts. Some providers offer discounts as high as 25% just for renewing online, choosing electronic billing, bundling homeowners or renters insurance or for taking a defensive driving course.
  2. Drop coverage you may not need. If you’re driving an older car and not as concerned about damage to it, consider dropping your collision and comprehensive insurance, especially if your car is worth less than your deductible.
  3. Choose a higher deductible. Your deductible majorly affects your premiums. A higher deductible can result in wiggle room for more important claims, like liability or uninsured motorist.
  4. Look into pay-as-you-go insurance. If you’re a safe driver or you don’t drive every day, compare usage-based insurance. Your rates are based on how much and how well you actually drive and not how much risk an insurer assumes you present.
  5. Improve your credit score. Your provider may consider your credit history when calculating how much to charge. By working to improve your credit score, you’ll ultimately get better rates.
  6. Drive a car that’s cheaper to insure. You can find typical car insurance rates by a car’s make and model online. Rates for minivans, SUVs and smaller cars tend to be less expensive than high-performance or flashy cars, and features like safety and antitheft devices could earn you extra discounts.
  7. Be careful about filing claims. If you can cover damages to your own car without filing a claim, it saves you money on premiums down the road. However, you shouldn’t skip out on filing if you damage someone else’s property.

What makes someone a high-risk driver?

When a car insurance provider sets your rates, those premiums are largely based on how likely an insurer thinks you are to get in an accident or make a claim.

If you’ve had a suspended license or a history of claims or accidents, some insurers will lump you into a high-risk category, which increases your insurance rates significantly. You could even be considered high risk if your car is more likely to be stolen, for example.

Understand the factors affecting your premiums so you can easily pick out ways to reduce your costs. Typically, you can break them down into two categories: driving and non-driving related risk factors.

Risk factors related to your driving

Driving-related factors have to do with your experience and driving record, and can include:

  • Being at fault for a car accident. Car insurance companies usually consider at-fault accidents a bigger risk factor than ones where you’re found not to be the cause.
  • Multiple speeding tickets or traffic citations. While more than one speeding violation may seem like an obvious risk factor, even getting too many parking tickets can affect your rates.
  • DWI or DUI convictions. Being convicted of a DWI or DUI is considered a big risk factor, and can be one of the priciest in terms of insurance hikes.
  • Reckless driving citations. Reckless driving puts points on your record and puts you at a higher risk of being in an accident and will hike your rates up with just a single citation.
  • Hit-and-run convictions. If you’ve been convicted of a hit-and-run or have a suspended license car insurance providers will mark you as a high risk.
  • Racing citations. Street racing comes with several risks to both the drivers and onlookers. It ups your chances of filing a claim, and can potentially void your policy.

Risk factors not related to your driving

Your driving record isn’t the only factor car insurance providers consider when determining risk. The following can also affect your rates:

  • Being a new driver. If you don’t have much experience driving it’s harder for an insurance company to assess how good of a driver you’ll be. Being a teen driver makes you especially likely to end up with higher rates.
  • Poor credit score. Insurers can treat poor credit history as a risk factor when figuring out how likely you are to file a claim, unless you live in Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador. If you live in Alberta it’s optional to share your credit score, and auto insurers must get your permission before they check it.
  • Having a salvage title. If you have a salvage title your insurer likely won’t offer comprehensive coverage.
  • Subpar safety ratings. Driving a car with a poor safety rating means a greater risk of personal injury, which means higher premiums.
  • Driving a sport model. Sportier high-performance cars typically come with high price tags and expensive parts that cost more than average to replace than standard, which can mean higher rates.
  • Driving an off-roading model. A car that’s made for off-roading is likely to see more wear and tear than a typical car, and that can mean paying a higher car insurance premium.
  • Living in a high-claim area. If you’re in an area that has higher claims than average, you can expect to pay more for car insurance.

How to handle common high-risk factors

Depending on what your risk factors are — and how many apply — you could see a significant jump in premium costs. But there are ways to manage the hikes and get better rates.

Car insurance after a lapse in coverage

If you’re uninsured for more than a few days, expect to pay a higher premium. To save on insurance, reach out to your former insurer and see if it’s willing to cover you without a premium hike.

You can also compare any quote you get to other insurers. Re-evaluate your insurance after 6 months — if you’ve been a safe driver, you should be eligible for lower rates.

If you live with a family member, you can potentially be added as a driver on their policy for a lower rate. Once your policy is almost up, you can take out a new policy for a better deal.

Car insurance with a suspended license

If you want to keep your car insured while you aren’t legally allowed to drive it, expect to pay high premiums — or have coverage denied outright, especially if your license was suspended for a driving-related offense.

To buy coverage for a car that will be primarily driven by someone else, ask if the insurer will let you list them as the primary driver on your policy. This could make it easier to get coverage.

Car insurance with a few accidents

If you’ve been in a few accidents, your best bet is to compare policies from several different insurers — including at least a couple that specialize in high-risk drivers. Though if you’re confident that you’re currently a safe driver, you may be able to lower your rates with a device that tracks your driving.

Car insurance with a few tickets or points on your license

Taking a driver safety or defensive driving course can help lower your rates after you get a speeding ticket. You can also keep your premiums down by comparing insurers — both now and again when the points are off your record.

Bottom line

Your insurer may think you’re at a higher risk of accidents, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get car insurance or find ways to save. Compare nonstandard car insurance options to find a great deal even with a few marks on your driving record.

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