How to get cheaper coverage when you have tickets or accidents on your driving record.
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 insurance rates. But you do have options to improve your driving record and reduce your risk to get better insurance rates.
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Get car insurance for high-risk drivers
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.
You may be considered a high-risk driver if:
- You’ve been involved in an at-fault car accident.
- You’ve received multiple speeding tickets or traffic violations.
- You were convicted of a DWI or DUI.
- You were convicted of a hit-and-run or have a suspended license.
- You’re a new driver.
- You have a poor credit history.
How to save on high-risk car insurance
If you’re lumped into a high-risk car insurance category, there’s no one way to guarantee coverage at a low cost. It’s worth comparing a range of providers and, if necessary, speaking directly with a provider that specializes in drivers with a poor driving record. Understand the factors affecting car insurance premiums so you can easily pick out ways to reduce your costs.
- Keep an eye out for discounts. Some providers offer discounts as high as 25% just for renewing online, choosing electronic billing or for taking a defensive driving course.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Improve your credit score. Unless you live in California, Hawaii or Massachusetts, your provider considers your credit history when calculating how much to charge. By working to improve your credit, you’ll ultimately get better rates.
- 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 devices and anti-theft devices could earn you extra discounts.
Car insurance after a lapse in coverage
If you’ve been uninsured for more than a few days, expect to pay a higher premium. To save on insurance, reach out to your former insurer to see if they’re willing to cover you without a premium hike, and compare that quote to other insurers. Re-evaluate your insurance after six months — if you’ve been a safe driver, you should be eligible for lower rates.
If you live with a family member, you may also be able to get 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.
If you’re buying coverage for a car that will be primarily driven by someone else, some insurers will let you list them as the primary driver on your policy, making it easier to get coverage. If you’re restoring a vintage car, reach out to a specialty insurer.
If you need insurance to get your license reinstated, compare quotes from providers who offer SR-22 insurance.
Car insurance with a few accidents
If you’ve had a few accidents, your best bet is to compare policies from several different insurers, including at least a couple who specialize in high-risk drivers.
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, like Progressive’s Snapshot or Allstate’s Drivewise.
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.
I’m generally a safe driver. Why do I have high rates?
One or any combination of risk factors can raise your premiums. Maybe you’re a safe driver but your credit score is lower than an insurer wants. Maybe you’re a good driver but your teenager listed on your policy doesn’t have much driving experience.
Insurers also determine their own driver categories. One provider might have tiers — low, medium and high risk — while another might rate your risk based on your individual factors. One at-fault accident for one provider could be the same risk tier as three accidents for another, for examples.
Discounts to look for
No matter which provider you go with, most will allow you to stack smaller discounts for even bigger savings. Look into the discounts offered by your insurer, and use it as a checklist for potential savings.
- Name yourself as the only driver. Depending on your policy, you might be able to reduce costs by specifically telling your provider that you’re the only one who will be driving your vehicle.
- Pay your premiums up front. It often costs less overall to pay your premiums up front each year rather than monthly.
- Secure your car. Many insurers extend discounts if you use a car alarm or store your car in a garage at night.
- Look for a multi-policy discount. If you bundle multiple cars or insurance, including home insurance, life insurance or other coverage, with one provider, you’re often eligible for a multi-policy discount, which could save you up to 10% a year.
- Take a defensive driving course. Even if you don’t need it, learning safe driving techniques with an approved instructor could make you eligible for more savings.
- Buy online. Online-only providers can avoid the overhead that comes with brick-and-mortar branches, often passing along the savings to you in the form of lower rates and multiple discounts.
- Pay up front. You’ll often get a discount for paying your annual premium up front instead of monthly.
Do I have to let my insurer know if my license is suspended?
Yes. Most policies stipulate that you must tell your insurer about anything that raises your risk level unless you can reasonably expect the provider to know about it already.
- If your insurer does know about it, informing them probably won’t affect your premiums.
- If your insurer doesn’t know about it, not telling them may be used to deny a claim later on.
Avoid unnecessary headaches by alerting your insurance provider to any changes in your driving record, especially suspensions of your license, registration or plates.