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Compare car insurance for high-risk drivers

Get lower-cost high-risk car insurance coverage even after a ticket, accident claim or insurance lapse.

Getting in a car accident or making too many claims could put you in the high-risk category, leading to higher premiums. However, your exact rates depend on the number of risky events in your driving history, the accident details and how much risk your car insurance company is willing to take. Even if your insurer thinks you’re a major risk, you have options to improve your driving record and reduce your insurance rates.

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How to buy car insurance for high-risk drivers

Depending on what your risk factors are — and how many apply — you could see a significant jump in your car insurance premium. You can manage the hike in several ways to prove you learned from your mistakes, possibly leading to better rates.

With points on your license

Where you can get approved for car insurance depends on the number of points and type of violation on your record. Most car insurance companies will accept you with demerit points from one minor speeding ticket, but points from a serious violation could be grounds for a coverage denial. In this case, you’ll need to compare companies that accept high-risk drivers—or even specialize in this risk group.

Taking a safety or defensive driving course can help lower your rates after accumulating license points. In some states, you could even drop a few points if your state lets you take an approved course for this purpose.

With a few accidents on record

If you’ve been in a few accidents, your best bet is to compare policies from several insurance companies — including insurers that specialize in high-risk drivers.

If you’re confident that you’re a safe driver, you could lower your rates with a device that tracks your driving under a policy using telematics. Progressive’s Snapshot or Allstate’s Drivewise are two telematics programs with traditional companies, and companies like Root and Metromile specialize in telematics policies.

When you get a car insurance quote, most companies ask about your claims history over the last three to five years. Be honest about the accident, so that future claims won’t get denied.

After a coverage lapse

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 insurance company and see if it’s willing to reinstate you without a premium hike.

Otherwise, compare quotes from other insurance companies. You may need an SR-22 insurance company to file proof of insurance with your state.

To save money, re-evaluate your insurance after six months of safe driving — you might qualify for lower rates. If you live with a family member, you could get added as a driver on their policy for a lower rate. Once your policy is almost up, take out a new policy for a better deal.

With a license suspension

If you want to keep your car insured while you legally can’t 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 primarily driven by someone else, you can list them as the primary driver on your policy, improving your chances of approval. If you plan to garage your car, you can ask your company to drop your coverage to the state minimums like liability insurance.

You’ll want to compare quotes from companies that offer SR-22 insurance since you’ll need to file this proof of insurance form as a requirement for getting your license back.

After driving under the influence (DUI)

A drunk driving conviction carries steep penalties that include filing an SR-22 with your state, which is a form that proves you meet your state’s insurance requirements.

However, not all insurers will agree to insure a driver who needs an SR-22. If your current company drops you, you’ll likely need to compare high-risk car insurance companies.

DUIs stay on your record for 10 years in most states. But some states such as Pennsylvania and Tennessee never remove a DUI from your record unless you have it removed or given limited access.

How to find legit high-risk car insurance companies

Aside from the companies listed above, look for companies in your local area that insure drivers with a nonstandard risk level. Source a list of companies to contact from your state’s department of insurance:

  1. Search for your state’s insurance department online.
  2. Select your state department’s homepage or any pages linking to contact information.
  3. Look for contact information on the contact page or in the footer of the main website.
  4. Call during office hours and ask for a list of SR-22 or high-risk car insurance companies.
  5. Provide any contact details the office needs to send you the list.
  6. Compare quotes from multiple companies on this list.

What if I’m denied insurance coverage from most companies?

Many states offer government programs to help drivers who are denied insurance through the private market. You should use government insurance programs as a last resort. While it guarantees you coverage, these companies typically charge a steep rate to make up for your risk.

Getting insurance through the government means getting grouped in an assigned-risk pool, meaning participating insurance companies share the risk of insuring high-risk drivers. Different states have different eligibility requirements, but you typically need one or more insurance denials before you qualify.

How my driving record affects car insurance rates

A driving record with violations or accidents can lead to premiums anywhere from 20% to 100% higher than your past rate, based on how serious the violation. However, your rates gradually decrease over three to five years as long as you don’t face any more incidents.

What happens to your rates after different types of incidents:

  • Minor violations. Parking or seatbelt tickets, citations or warnings for broken tail lights typically won’t make their way to your driving record, so your premium should stay the same.
  • Speeding ticket. For a first speeding ticket, your insurer might offer forgiveness and your rates won’t budge. But if you have multiple tickets on record or were speeding well above the limit, expect a rate increase.

After an accident

If you’re deemed at fault or someone got injured, most insurers ding you with a 20% to 50% increase in rates. However, some small claims or damage caused by another driver don’t cause any increase. If you’re at fault or you file multiple small claims, you could lose your no-claims discount.

Compare the typical car insurance rate increases after different types of accidents.

Type of accidentNational average rate increaseRate increase per year
Bodily injury claim50%+$650
Fender bender costing $2,000 or more in repairs40%+$520
Comprehensive claim2%+$26

After a DUI

Compare car insurance rate increases after a DUI to see how much your premium could increase. While the laws vary by state and case, typically a DUI will affect your rates for at least three years.

StatePremium increaseAverage annual rateAverage rate after DUI
Alabama54%$1,400$2,156
Alaska80%$1,560$2,808
Arizona37%$1,300$1,781
Arkansas68%$1,400$2,352
California103%$1,400$2,842
Colorado34%$1,450$1,943
Connecticut100%$1,100$2,200
Delaware31%$1,100$1,441
Florida40%$1,800$2,520
Georgia47%$1,450$2,132
Hawaii62%$1,350$2,187
Idaho43%$1,410$2,016
Illinois70%$1,250$2,125
Indiana56%$1,112$1,735
Iowa60%$1,100$1,760
Kansas46%$1,250$1,825
Kentucky48%$1,400$2,072
Louisiana62%$1,300$2,106
Maine56%$1,300$2,028
Maryland51%$1,500$2,265
Massachusetts67%$1,400$2,265
Michigan9%$2,200$2,398
Minnesota37%$1,300$1,781
Mississippi27%$1,200$1,524
Missouri39%$1,300$1,807
Montana39%$1,200$1,668
Nebraska58%$1,400$1,668
Nevada29%$1,400$1,806
New Hampshire79%$1,200$2,148
New Jersey47%$1,400$2,058
New Mexico46%$1,200$1,752
New York49%$1,300$1,937
North Carolina112%$1,300$2,756
North Dakota33%$1,350$1,796
Ohio31%$1,000$1,310
Oklahoma28%$1,500$1,920
Oregon26%$1,300$1,638
Pennsylvania25%$1,300$1,625
Rhode Island25%$1,800$2,250
South Carolina27%$1,300$1,651
South Dakota27%$1,050$1,334
Tennessee19%$1,300$1,547
Texas44%$1,500$2,160
Utah39%$1,300$1,807
Vermont67%$1,300$2,171
Virginia42%$1,250$1,775
Washington28%$1,200$1,536
Washington, D.C.0.3%$1,300$1,339
West Virginia59%$1,350$2,147
Wisconsin51%$1,300$1,963
Wyoming52%$1,500$2,280

What if I have accident forgiveness?

Insurance policies with accident forgiveness add-ons look past your first driving infraction, like a speeding ticket or at-fault accident, and won’t raise your rates.

However, this perk may be an upgrade you’ll pay for with some insurers, and other companies offer forgiveness only after going claim-free for a number of years. Any driver who cashes in the perk renders it unavailable for other drivers on the policy.

Plus, if you experience a serious accident or violation, accident forgiveness may not safeguard you from high insurance rates or a denied policy at renewal. Expect rate increases for repeat offenses or violations not related to an accident.

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, bundling homeowners or renters insurance or taking a defensive driving course. If you have the funds to pay your premium all at once, you could save up to 10% on your premiums.
  2. Drop or lower coverage. If you’re driving an older car that’s worth less than your deductible and not as concerned about damaging it, consider dropping your collision and comprehensive insurance. A higher deductible also can result in wiggle room in your budget, if you can pay the extra amount after an accident.
  3. Wait to shop around. Your rates might not be affected until your policy renews because insurers don’t keep constant tabs on your record. You might see your premium rise sooner if you switch car insurance companies since your new company will factor in your record.
  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. 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.
  6. Be careful about 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 car or cause injuries.
  7. Contest your driving convictions. Contesting a traffic ticket could take points off your license, keeping insurance rates low. Some traffic convictions can be erased if you request an expungement.

How do I request a DUI expungement?

First, you have to be eligible for expungement, which could mean waiting anywhere between three and 10 years after your conviction, depending on your state. If you have more than one DUI on your record, it’s likely you won’t be able to expunge them.

To request an expungement, you need to file a petition with your county courthouse. This requires a fee and waiting for paperwork to be processed.

In some states, you have to show up for a court date to speak with a judge about why you believe your record should be sealed or expunged. It can be helpful to work with an attorney during this process.

What makes someone a high-risk driver?

Your car insurance company bases your premium on how likely it thinks you’ll get in an accident or make a claim. The company looks at the big picture of your driving history and other factors to figure out this risk.

If you have a record of a suspended license, accident claims or driving violations, your company might lump you in a high-risk category, increasing your insurance rates. Understand the factors affecting your premiums so that you can pick out ways to lower your costs.

Your driving record

Also known as a motor vehicle report, your driving record provides detailed information about you and your driving history that your insurance company can access. These accidents or violations may show up on your record:

  • Being at-fault for a car accident. Car insurers usually consider at-fault accidents a bigger risk factor than no-fault ones, affecting premiums for up to five years.
  • Past claims. You might see a bigger surcharge than drivers with a claim-free record if you have another recent incident on file.
  • DUI or DWI. Being convicted of a DUI or DWI is considered a high risk factor, with some of the priciest premium hikes.
  • Hit-and-run. If you’ve been convicted of a hit-and-run or have a suspended license, that’s a big risk factor.
  • Lack of experience. Teens and new drivers often end up with higher rates until they prove their driving experience. A new driver also may face a higher penalty after an accident than an experienced driver.
  • Racing. Street racing comes with several risks to the drivers, onlookers and vehicles, and may even void your policy.
  • Reckless driving. Reckless driving puts points on your record and puts you at a higher risk of being in an accident.
  • Speeding, tailgating or other traffic violations. Multiple speeding violations or even too many parking tickets can affect your rates, typically for three years.

Nondriving risk factors

Your record isn’t the only factor car insurance companies consider about your risk. These factors also affect your rates:

  • Low credit score. Insurance companies consider poor credit history a risk factor for filing more claims in most states.
  • Living in a high-claim area. Being in an area that has higher claims than average raises your risk of making a claim too.
  • Low safety ratings. Driving a car with a poor safety means a greater risk of injury, which means higher premiums.
  • Driving a sports car. Sportier, high-performance cars can come with high price tags and expensive parts to replace,
  • Driving an off-road vehicle. An off-roading car could see more physical damage, such as if you run into a ditch or hit a tree.
  • Having a salvage title. You likely can’t get comprehensive coverage if your car was unrepairable after an accident.

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.

Frequently asked questions about nonstandard car insurance

When do insurance companies use my driving record?

Insurance companies typically look at your driving record when you first apply for an insurance policy, switch companies and sometimes when you renew your policy.

But be sure not to withhold information if you do switch. If you fudge the truth on your insurance application your provider will find out eventually, which could cost you much more than you bargained for. In extreme cases, your insurance company could drop you and try you for civil fraud.

How can I check my driving record?

To check your driving record, follow these steps.

  1. Go to your state’s DMV website and navigate to the Driving records page.
  2. Request your record online, in person or by mail.
  3. Provide personal information like your full name, date of birth, Social Security number, address and driver’s license number. Most states charge a fee of $5 to $10 to obtain your record.
  4. If you requested your record online or in person, you could get it immediately. Otherwise, it could take up to two weeks to receive it by mail.
  5. Check your driving record as often as you’d like, though you’ll pay the fee each time.

How do out-of-state points affect my driving record?

If you get a speeding ticket in another state and accumulate points within that state’s system, your driving record is affected.

How does the DMV point system work?

Most states use a point system to categorize different levels of violations on your driving record. The number of points you’ll get for driving infractions varies by state. However, the more points on your record, the higher your car insurance premium.

For example, in Ohio, you can get two points added to your license if you’re going more than 5 to 10 mph over the speed limit. But if you’re convicted of a DUI in the same state, you’ll get six points.

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