It’s well known that insurance providers do not like tickets and accidents. More than one or two incidents in a short period of time and it’s a given that your rates will increase. But some incidents are so severe that just one on your driving record can cause insurers to label you a high-risk driver.
If your provider slaps this designation on you, their next move may be to cancel your policy. And, if it does, finding a new policy will be challenging. Auto insurance for high risk drivers is harder to find than standard coverage. It’s also considerably more expensive because these customers cost insurers more money over the long run.
This article will explain what high-risk drivers are and discuss the consequences of being one. It will also offer you some solutions on how to improve your situation and lower your premium if you are a high-risk driver.
What Is a High-Risk Driver?
You might be wondering what the term high-risk driver means. You shouldn’t worry if you have minimal accidents or tickets. Insurance companies will likely not call you a high-risk driver if your record has some minor incidents here and there. Companies may label you as a high risk if you fit any of the following:
Several Accidents on Your Record
Having several car accidents on your record won’t bode well for you if you’re trying to buy insurance coverage. At-fault crashes are especially bad for your record, because your rates are likely to increase. Accidents also stay on your record for at least three years depending on the state. Expect to get the high-risk driver mark if you have more than one incident in three years. One accident may also do the trick if you’re at fault.
You Have Many Tickets or Traffic Violations
Tickets and traffic violations can also cause you to be a high-risk driver. Getting a speeding ticket can be just as much of an issue as the police nailing you for reckless driving. Try to avoid being cited by law enforcement as much as possible to keep your rates low.
Accumulating traffic tickets tells your insurance company that you’re somewhat dangerous behind the wheel. But some moving violations are so severe that receiving one will immediately designate you as a high risk driver.
Any one of the following moving violations can turn you into a high risk driver:
- Reckless driving
- Speeding (going a certain amount over can also become reckless driving)
- Distracted driving i.e., texting
It may take a while for any traffic violations or tickets to go away. The points from tickets commonly stay on your record for about three years, but it can be longer depending on the state. For example, Virginia and Washington state keep violations on file for up to five years.
Many states also keep track of traffic violations through points on driver’s licenses. Reaching a certain number of points can result in the state revoking or suspending your license. This is another factor to think about when considering how long tickets stay with you. This is because insurance companies look at both your driving history and points against your license. Keep in mind that insurers access this information from time to time, so it could take longer for them to view you as a lower risk.
You Filed an SR-22 Form
Filing an SR-22 form with your state can signal to insurers that you’re a risky customer. States already consider a driver as high-risk if a driver files this form. Insurance companies will be no different, and this will negatively affect your status with them.
Other High-Risk Driver Traits
The above are some of the main reasons insurers view drivers as high-risk, but they aren’t the only ones. Other ways that you could be one of these drivers are:
- You’re a new driver (usually 25 and younger or have just received your license). Providers sometimes view new drivers or young teenagers new to driving as a high risk for accidents or tickets
- You’re an elderly driver
- You have a poor credit rating
- The area where you live presents a high risk. Vehicle theft and vandalism rates can play into companies not providing people coverage
- You have a bad insurance record. Not paying your rates or violating an insurer’s terms can cause you to have trouble getting coverage
- You want to cover a special or exotic car. Classic, collector, or exotic vehicles can warrant a different type of auto insurance
There are many ways to end up with high rates or to be unable to buy auto coverage. Avoiding all of the above traits is the best way to not become a high-risk driver and save money.
High-Risk Insurance Companies
Carrying the high-risk label puts you in a bad spot, but there are solutions to help you save money and get the protection you need. Some companies offer non-standard coverage for customers who need it. This is different than traditional auto insurance because it’s only for high-risk drivers.
Below are the companies that offer high-risk coverage:
- Direct Auto
- The General
- Safe Auto
- Bristol West
- 21st Century
You may notice that many popular companies don’t appear on this list. That’s because only a few providers offer this non-standard coverage to high-risk drivers. Keep this on mind while looking for a policy.
How Much Does High-Risk Insurance Cost?
The rates for high-risk auto coverage can vary. The worse the reason for being high-risk, the higher the price will be. A severe offense like poor credit, DUIs, or an at-fault accident will result in your rates being on the upper end. Young drivers also pay higher premiums than older people. Your age can put you into the same auto insurance category as high-risk drivers. Even without an accident on their records, younger drivers pay at least twice as much for coverage.
It may not seem like it, but you still have options when you’re trying to buy high-risk insurance. There’s no need to settle. Comparing quotes between each company can help you find the best deal and save money.
Other Coverage Solutions When You’re High-Risk
High-risk car insurance is one way you can get coverage, but here are other ways you can protect yourself:
State-Assigned Risk Pools
Joining a state risk pool is a way to get insurance while being high-risk. States will assign you to an insurer if you join a pool. Prices won’t be ideal because of your risky status. But it’s a good option if you can’t find anything in the way of regular auto coverage. State risk pools guarantee you a company to protect you regardless of your record, which is why they can be a valuable tool.
Lower Your Risk
This one is a no-brainer. Lowering your risk can help insurers view you in a more positive light. As a result, you’ll be able to save stress and find more affordable car insurance. Here are some ways that you can lower your risk and get cheaper premiums:
- Take a defensive driving course. Taking a defensive driving course can get you a discount in some states. Check with your agent or provider to be sure if this is something you can do.
- Rebuild your credit score. Fixing your credit score can massively impact how much you pay for insurance. It shows insurance companies that you have control of your finances and can make payments.
- Take care when driving and avoid mistakes. Consistently driving safely is one of the best ways to lower your risk in the eyes of insurers. Showing a pattern of accident and ticket-free driving can lower your prices. Do not drink and drive!
- Get a safe vehicle. Buying a safe car is another way to minimize risk and lower your rates. These cars also include those with good quality safety features to prevent injury. High-performance cars don’t encourage safe driving, so avoid those if you want to lower your risk.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get out of needing to buy high-risk coverage?
You can take steps to lower your risk and improve your standing with insurance companies. Avoiding accidents, practicing good driving habits, improving your credit, and owning a safe car can all help improve your chances of being able to lower your risk. Successfully lowering your risk can help you get better rates and save hundreds of dollars. This should be a priority for anyone who is either in danger of becoming or who is already high-risk.
How long will I be labeled high-risk?
You can stay high-risk for three to five years because of how long tickets and accidents stay on your record. Insurers only scan your driving history periodically, so it can be difficult to get back into good standing. The best thing you can do is to just try and improve your driver record and credit score if need be. It’s an unfortunate situation to be in, but there is hope that you can get out of it.
Can companies refuse to sell me a policy?
Yes. Companies have the right to deny potential customers car insurance because they view them as high-risk. Insurers can also cancel your policy under some circumstances. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), those reasons include:
- Failing to pay your premium
- The state revokes or suspends your license
- Committing fraud or providing misinformation
Doing any of the three above will almost certainly cause you to become a high-risk driver and will make buying insurance a difficult task in the future. Keep in mind that carriers can also decide to not renew your policy once it ends.