What Is High-Risk Auto Insurance?

Is your insurance really expensive or impossible to buy? You may be a high-risk driver. Find out how to get high-risk insurance here.
Woman receiving a speeding ticket

Drivers can make mistakes. It happens. But making too many of them can cause insurance companies to label you as a high-risk driver. Insurance can be very hard to buy if companies consider you a high-risk driver. Coverage providers believe high-risk drivers will cost them more money in the long run because of their likelihood of getting into an accident.

This article will explain what high-risk drivers are and discuss the possible consequences of being one. It will also offer you some insurance solutions and how to improve your situation if you are a high-risk driver.

What is a High-Risk Driver?

You might be wondering what a high-risk driver is. You shouldn’t worry if you have minimal accidents or tickets. Insurers 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 driver if you fit any of the following:

Several Accidents on Your Record

Having several accidents on your record won’t bode well for you if you’re trying to buy insurance. These types of incidents will likely end up with insurance companies labeling you as a high-risk driver.

Accidents are especially bad for your record if you’re the one at fault. After an accident, your rates are likely to rise. 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 accident 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 tickets and citations as much as possible if you want to keep your insurance rates low.

All tickets can contribute toward becoming a high-risk driver, but some are more severe. Below are the types of citations that can cause you to be high-risk:

  • Reckless driving
  • DUIs/DWIs
  • Speeding. Going a certain amount over can also become reckless driving.
  • Distracted driving i.e., texting

These are some of the main offenses that can lead to higher insurance premiums or to you being unable to find any coverage at all.

It may take a while for any traffic violations or tickets to go away. Tickets commonly stay on a driver’s record for about three years, but it can be longer depending on the state. For example, Virginia and Washington state keep violations on record for up to five years.

Many states also keep track of traffic violations through points that apply to a driver’s license. 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 because insurance companies look at both your driving record and points against your license. Keep in mind that insurers may only look at your record from time to time, so it could take longer for them to view you as a lower risk.

You Filed an SR-22 Form

An SR-22 is a form that certifies a driver’s financial responsibility. It isn’t an insurance policy as some people may think.

Filing an SR-22 form with your state can signal to insurance companies 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 why insurance companies view drivers as high-risk, but they aren’t the only ones. Other ways that you could be a high-risk driver are:

  • You’re a new driver (usually 25 and younger or have just received your license). Insurance providers sometimes view new drivers or teenagers who just got their license as a high risk for accidents or tickets.
  • You’re an elderly driver.
  • Your credit rating is poor.
  • The area where you live presents a high risk. Theft and vandalism rates can play into insurance companies not providing people coverage.
  • Your insurance record is bad. Not paying your rates or violating an insurer’s terms can cause you to have trouble getting coverage.
  • The car you’re trying to insure is special or exotic. 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 insurance. Avoiding all of the above traits is the best way to not become a high-risk driver and save money.

High-Risk Auto Insurance Companies

It’s a bad spot to be in when you’re a high-risk driver, but there are solutions to help you save money and get the protection you need. Some companies offer non-standard high-risk insurance for customers that need it. This type is different than traditional insurance because it’s only for high-risk drivers.

Below are the companies that offer high-risk auto insurance:

  • Progressive
  • Direct Auto Insurance
  • The General
  • Safe Auto
  • Dairyland
  • Infinity Insurance
  • Bristol West
  • 21st Century
  • Kemper
  • Gainsco

These companies offer some sort of coverage for high-risk drivers who can’t find regular insurance. Remember that not all insurance companies offer this type of coverage. Non-standard insurance companies also offer high-risk coverage for those who need it.

How Much Does High Risk Insurance Cost?

The rates for high-risk insurance can vary. The worse the reason for being high-risk, the higher the price will be. Having a severe offense like bad credit, DUIs, or an at-fault accident will result in your rates being on the upper end. Being young is also likely to increase your rates no matter what you do.

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 high-risk car insurance quotes between each company can help you find the best deal and save money.

Other 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 insurance company if you join a pool. Prices won’t be ideal because of your high-risk status. It’s a good option if you can’t find anything in the way of regular insurance when you’re high-risk. State risk pools guarantee you an insurer 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 insurance companies view you in a more positive light. As a result, you’ll be able to save your stress and find the cheaper car insurance that you can afford. 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 net you a discount on your premiums in some states. Check with your insurance 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 to 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 coverage providers. 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. 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

Q: How do I get out of being a high-risk driver?

A:  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 insurance 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.

Q: How long do you stay high-risk?

A: Drivers can stay high-risk for three to five years because of how long tickets and accidents stay on your record. Insurance companies only check drivers’ records on occasion, so it can be difficult to get back into good standing. The best thing you can do is to just try and improve your 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.

Q: Can companies refuse to sell me insurance?

A:  Yes. Insurance 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 insurance 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 insurance companies can also decide to not renew your policy once it ends.


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