How Do I Get Car Insurance If I’m a High-Risk Driver?
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High-risk car insurance is a category of coverage that is necessary for drivers who have committed significant traffic violations or are otherwise considered risky by insurance companies. Drivers who have been labeled high-risk may have a harder time getting auto insurance and will likely have to pay higher premiums.
Keep reading for more information on why you might be classified as high-risk plus ways to find affordable car insurance for high-risk drivers.
What Is High-Risk Car Insurance?
High-risk car insurance, also known as non-standard insurance, generally refers to auto coverage for drivers that are more likely to file a claim on their auto insurance than the typical driver.
Keep in mind that high-risk insurance is not necessarily a specific type of insurance policy that your insurance carrier will offer. Instead, it is a general term for more expensive insurance policies that are available to new drivers and those with poor driving records.
How Does High-Risk Car Insurance Work?
High-risk drivers generally have to pay higher car insurance premiums to offset the risk of insuring them. When determining any person’s auto insurance rates, an insurance company will evaluate the likelihood that they will file an auto insurance claim by looking at information like their age, the make and model of their car, their location and their driving history.
As a result, high-risk drivers generally pay about 25% more for auto insurance than low-risk drivers because it is more likely that they will cause a costly accident and need to request financial assistance from their insurance provider.
In addition, an insurance company that considers you a high-risk driver is allowed to reject you altogether. In this case, you may have to purchase a policy from a company that specializes in non-standard insurance.
Which Companies Offer High-Risk Car Insurance?
You can usually purchase car insurance for high-risk drivers from national carriers like State Farm, Geico, Allstate, Nationwide and more. However, if you have been turned down by an insurer, you can instead buy a policy from a company that specializes in non-standard insurance such as The General, SafeAuto, Direct Auto Insurance, Dairyland or Infinity Insurance.
While non-standard insurance companies tend to be more expensive, they may be the only options available to especially high-risk drivers. In addition, a non-standard insurer may be your best bet if you need to file an SR-22 proving you meet your state’s minimum car insurance requirements.
What Are the Characteristics of a High-Risk Driver?
Anything that makes you seem more likely to file an auto insurance claim will increase your risk profile and make your car insurance rates go up. Below are some of the most common characteristics of high-risk drivers:
- DUIs: A DUI/DWI conviction is one of the most serious traffic violations you can commit. As a result, one DUI will likely be enough to earn you the high-risk classification. After a DUI, you may also need to file an SR-22 or, if you live in Virginia or Florida, an FR-44.
- Multiple tickets or accidents: You may also be considered high-risk if you commit multiple minor traffic violations within a short window of time. This could include being responsible for several fender benders or racking up citations and driver’s license points after you are caught speeding on multiple occasions.
- Lack of driving experience: First-time drivers, teens and young adults are usually considered high-risk because their lack of driving experience could make them more likely to get into an accident.
- Poor credit scores: Many companies use a credit-based insurance score as a predictor of how likely you are to file a claim. However, insurers are not allowed to take your credit score into account if you live in California, Hawaii, Maryland or Massachusetts.
- Lapse in coverage or no prior insurance coverage: If you have never had auto insurance or previously let your car insurance lapse, an insurance provider may not trust you to regularly make your premium payments on time and may label you as high-risk.
- Expensive vehicles: The more expensive your car would be to repair, the more likely it is that your insurance company will declare it a total loss after an accident. As a result, you could be considered high-risk if you need to insure a new vehicle with high-end technology.
How Long Is Someone Considered a High-Risk Driver?
How long you are considered a high-risk driver will generally depend on the severity of the situation that caused your insurance company to designate you as high-risk. For example, a lapse in coverage could impact your insurance rates for as little as six months, while a DUI might stay on your record for five years or more.
Your high-risk driver status may also fluctuate depending on the number of factors that contribute to that status. For example, a teenage driver who has a clean driving record but is still inexperienced overall should age out of being high-risk fairly quickly, but someone with multiple at-fault car accidents and poor credit may be considered high-risk for much longer.
Remember that individual insurance companies ultimately have the discretion to decide how risky they believe you are to insure. As a result, one insurer might consider you a high-risk driver for a longer period of time than another.
How Do I Get High-Risk Car Insurance?
You have three main options for obtaining high-risk car insurance: a traditional car insurance company, a company that specializes in non-standard insurance or a state-sponsored assigned risk pool.
If you can’t find a traditional auto insurance company that will accept you, you can usually find a non-standard insurance company that will be willing to shoulder the risk of insuring you. However, if even that fails, most states have programs in place that enable high-risk drivers to meet the state’s minimum car insurance requirements.
For example, if you are in California and can’t find an insurance company that will cover you, you could apply for a policy through the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan. If you are approved, the government will assign you to an insurance company that will then be required to sell you auto insurance.
Tips To Avoid Being Categorized as a High-Risk Driver
You can avoid being categorized as a high-risk driver and save money on car insurance if you follow these steps:
- Maintain a clean driving record: If you follow the rules of the road consistently, you shouldn’t need to make a claim on your liability insurance. With a limited claims history, insurance companies should consider you relatively safe to insure.
- Take a defensive driving course: Defensive driving courses can teach you techniques that can help you avoid costly crashes and may make you eligible for discounts at some insurance companies.
- Choose a safe car: Safety features like a backup camera or anti-lock braking system can also make it easier for you to stay out of a car accident that would require you to make a claim on your auto insurance.
- Improve your credit score: In states where credit-based insurance scores are allowed, paying off your credit card each month and making your mortgage payments on time can help keep you from entering the high-risk driver category.
- Make insurance payments on time: It’s important to pay your premium on time so that you don’t experience a lapse in coverage. If you’re worried about keeping up with frequent payments, you may be able to make a one-time payment to cover your insurance for the entire year.
How Can I Lower My High-Risk Insurance?
Even if you are labeled as a high-risk driver and your rates increase, there are steps you can take to mitigate the higher costs. For example, if you can afford to pay more money upfront any time you get into an accident, you could raise your deductible in exchange for a lower premium.
You could also look into any discounts that your insurance company offers. Many companies will give you discounted rates if you bundle multiple insurance policies together, install an anti-theft device, add multiple vehicles to one policy or, if you are a student, maintain a high grade point average.
Finally, the best way for high-risk drivers to save money is to practice safe driving habits. Your auto insurance company may offer you a discount if you can go several months without getting into an accident. If nothing else, going several years without an accident should make it more likely that car insurance companies will no longer view you as high-risk and that your car insurance will go down organically.