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Cheap car insurance for drivers with bad credit

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Consider nonstandard providers for affordable car insurance.

Your credit score can dip due to a job loss, student debt, medical bills — even a misunderstanding with your bank or lender.

But a poor credit score can affect more than your ability to borrow money in the future. It might also increase your auto insurance premiums or exclude you from elite providers altogether.

What do you do when your credit score is low and you need auto coverage? Compare your options and resources that can get you on the right track.

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Save on car insurance with poor credit

Providers with the strongest rates historically might not accept all credit scores. Thankfully, you’ll find options that can provide coverage while you rebuild your credit.

  • Look for smaller or nonstandard providers. A handful of auto insurers brand themselves more willing to accept drivers who might have a hard time getting insurance elsewhere.
  • Bundle your policies. If you own a policy with a large insurance providers that offers many types of insurance, it could make financial sense to pay for your home, auto and life insurance under one provider. Bundling can save you money and might make payments and support more convenient as well.
  • Trim your coverage. For standard auto insurance providers that can help you, the kind of coverage you’re used to might cost more than you’ve ever paid before — maybe even more than you’re willing to pay at all. This is where you can strategize about what to cut from your policy without leaving yourself too exposed.
  • Increase your deductible. Raising how much you’ll pay before your insurance kicks in could result in more manageable rates. But your deductible shouldn’t be higher than what you can reasonably pay after an accident.

Why do insurers look at my credit score?

Unless you live in California, Hawaii or Massachusetts, insurance providers can use your credit score when evaluating your risk as a policyholder. This means a great credit score can help your rates, and a poor credit score might hurt them.

Using credit score to decide a driver’s car insurance rates is banned in California, Massachusetts and Hawaii. But in most states, your credit score is a major factor for your insurance premium. Studies have shown drivers with lower credit scores tend to file more insurance claims, so drivers with lower credit scores will often face higher insurance premiums.

Car insurance for drivers with poor credit can be expensive or difficult to find. Most of the car insurance policies you’ll find without credit checks are sold by high-risk insurers. By opting to go without a credit check, providers often automatically place you into a high risk group.

5 car insurance providers that cater to high risk drivers

If you’re running into dead ends with big-name providers, look specifically for insurers that don’t mind taking on people with fair to poor credit.

Start with these five providers for more manageable rates.

  • Titan. Offering coverage in 22 states primarily in the South, Titan is a subsidiary of Nationwide’s network that offers nonstandard coverage to drivers who need it.
  • Progressive. One of the nation’s largest providers, Progressive offers nonstandard insurance to drivers who might have trouble getting covered elsewhere.
  • Geico Casualty. This Geico subsidiary offers coverage to high-risk customers — those with imperfect driving records, poor credit or a lapsed auto policy. Simply apply with Geico, and if it considers you a high risk, you’re assigned to Casualty for assistance.
  • Bristol West. A nonstandard subsidiary of Farmers Insurance, Bristol West sells and underwrites policies through a network of local agents and brokers.
  • The General. Offering car insurance only, The General markets directly to high-risk customers.

What factors affect car insurance rates?

Many factors play into what you pay each month for auto insurance coverage — some under your control, and others you can leverage to get a better rate.

  • Credit score. When considering your overall credit, providers look to independent studies that show a relationship between poor credit scores and high-risk driving habits. Unless you live in California, Hawaii or Massachusetts, your insurer can use your credit score to assess the risk you pose as a policyholder.
  • Location. Rural drivers typically pay less for their insurance than urban drivers. The fewer motorists you encounter while driving, the lower your accident risk. However, even climate can play into how your rates are assessed — think snow and rain on the roads for half the year.
  • Driving record. The longer you go without an accident, the more likely you’ll get a lower rate. If you have any recent accidents or tickets on your record, see if your provider offers discount for completing a defensive driving course. By proving your worth on the road, you might be able to bring down your rate by as much as 10%.
  • Age and driving experience. Providers consider young and inexperienced drivers riskier on the road. If you’re under 25 or new to driving, ask a parent or family member if they’re willing add you to their policy for lower rates.
  • Type of vehicle. Older cars, convertibles, high-performance or high-value vehicles and cars known for attracting theft and vandalism can affect your rates.
  • Occupation or education level. Teachers, accountants and engineers tend to get stronger rates, but your education level can also affect what you pay. When shopping for a new provider, ask about these types of discounts to potentially save 15% or more.

How much does my credit score affect my auto insurance rate?

Where you live largely affect how your provider weighs your credit score against your rates. In general, a poor credit score could cost you anywhere from $500 to $2,000 more each year in car insurance payments, depending on your provider.

Bottom line

When your credit negatively affects your ability to get insured, it can be difficult to find a reasonable rate. But you have viable options for getting your wheels turning again.

Start by looking into insurers and big-name subsidiaries marketed for high risk drivers. Weight their options against your needs and priorities to find the best rate you’re eligible for.

For more tips on keeping your rates low, read our comprehensive guide to car insurance.

Frequently asked questions

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Andy Frakes

Andy's background in journalism and experiences with endurance sports have left him hungry for challenges, and he finds plenty to conquer with the finder team. When he isn't writing the best car insurance articles on the Internet, he's probably out shooting photos, hunting for bargains in SoHo or eating breakfast food (yes, for the third time today).

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