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High-risk car insurance

How to get cheaper coverage when you’re classified as high risk.

Think of insurance providers as risk-management specialists. When a car insurance provider sets your premiums, those premiums are largely based on the level and type of risk an insurer perceives you to be. Factors insurers consider can include your age, your overall driving history and even the vehicle you drive.

If you’ve had a suspended license or a history of traffic infringements, you could be lumped into a high-risk category, sometimes increasing your premiums beyond even those for your typical risk factors. In addition, your risk factor might be further compounded by the type of car you’re driving. Altogether, these and other risk factors can make a substantial difference to your premiums.

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What makes someone a high-risk driver?

Generally, insurers determine their own driver categories. One provider might have three tiers — for low, medium and high risk — while another might take a more nuanced approach, considering other factors when deciding on its categories.

You may be considered a high-risk driver if:

  • You’ve been involved even one car accident.
  • You’ve received multiple speeding tickets or traffic violations.
  • You were convicted of a DWI or DUI.
  • You are a new driver.
  • You have a poor credit history.

One or any combination of these risk factors can raise your premiums. Understand the factors affecting car insurance premiums, so you can easily pick out ways to reduce your costs.

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 high-risk drivers.

How to reduce the risk and cut your costs

Here are a few major steps you can take to reduce your premiums.

  • 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 don’t drive every day — or even every week — see if you qualify for use-based insurance. Esurance is just one provider that offers pay-per-mile insurance, whereby each mile costs a few cents.
  • 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.

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 that can include those below.

  • 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.

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Rates last updated February 22nd, 2018
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