State Programs for High-Risk Drivers

It can be hard to get insurance as a high-risk driver. But some states offer programs to help you obtain it. Learn more about these programs here.
Man texting on his phone while driving.

Do you have several tickets or accidents on your record? If you do, it can be hard to get the coverage that you need. Auto insurers will label you a high-risk driver and make it hard for you to buy coverage. They may raise your rates to a high amount or deny you car insurance altogether.

Being a high-risk driver is tough. You need insurance to drive. But how do you get it if insurers won’t give it to you? Luckily, there are still ways you can get coverage. Your state may be able to assign you to a risk pool, where an insurer will have to sell you insurance.

In this article, we’ll break down how your state can help you buy insurance if you’re a high-risk driver. We’ll tell you about state-assigned risk pools that can help match you with a provider. This includes how much coverage will cost when you buy it through a risk pool. You’ll also learn about SR-22s and how your state might order you to file one if you’re high-risk.

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What Is a High-Risk Driver?

A high-risk driver is someone who insurance companies shy away from doing business with. This is because these types of drivers pose a high risk of filing claims and costing their insurers more money.

These drivers usually have several tickets or accidents on their record. But other past behaviors can make you high risk. Here’s how you could become a high-risk driver:

  • Tickets. Having too many moving violations on your record can make you high risk. Severe tickets like reckless driving and DUIs can give you the label right away.
  • Car accidents. Racking up accidents can result in a high-risk label. At-fault accidents might cause you to become high-risk even sooner. One or two accidents in a few years probably isn’t a big deal, but any more could cost you.
  • Poor credit score. In some states, your credit score can play a role in affecting your rates. Too low of a credit score could cause you to be a high-risk driver.
  • Bad insurance record. Canceling your policy abruptly or missing payments can cause you to be high-risk. Having lots of time between policies can also give you a risky status.
  • You’re a new driver. Being a new driver can result in higher rates and a high-risk label. This is especially true if you’re also a young driver.

Some of the risk factors above aren’t in your control. But others, such as tickets and accidents, generally are. Keep in mind that tickets and accidents typically stay on your record for three to five years. This is how long you might stay high-risk.

How State-Assigned Risk Pools Work

Your state may offer risk pools for those who can’t get insurance. This is where your state places you in a pool with other high-risk people, and then assigns you to an insurer. That insurer has to offer you a policy, no matter your risk level.

Even though insurers must provide you with a policy, they may still set your premiums very high. But this might be your only option if you need car insurance. Risk pools may also not let you buy other types of coverage. Be sure to contact your state’s insurance department or your agent if you have any questions about what’s available in your state’s risk pool.

State Programs If You Can’t Afford Insurance

There’s no way around it. When you’re a high-risk driver, your rates are going to be high. If you’re low-income or can’t afford insurance, your state might be able to help you. A few states offer to aid in paying for your auto coverage. The following states offer low-income insurance programs:

To qualify for a state’s low-income program, you usually need to prove that you’re low-income. States usually assess this by looking at your assets and total income. Once they determine that you can’t afford car insurance, they’ll step in and offer financial aid.

Each of the three states’ programs is a little different, though. Check your state’s policies on low-income coverage to find out exactly how you can get it.

Your State May Order You to File an SR-22

It’s common for states to order you to file an SR-22 form when you’re a high-risk driver. This form certifies that you have the bare minimum car insurance requirements in your state. Your state would ask you to file this form because it wants to ensure that you have enough protection to cover the expenses in an accident.

Typically, this only requires you to buy basic liability coverage. But other states might require you to buy other types of insurance, such as medical payments coverage or uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

Other Ways to Get Insurance if You’re High-Risk

State-assigned risk pools aren’t the only option when you’re a high-risk driver. Some insurers specifically write insurance policies for high-risk drivers. These are non-standard insurance companies.

A non-standard auto policy is very similar to a regular one. But it’s often far more expensive. This is because non-standard insurance is only for high-risk drivers. There may also be certain limitations on your policy if you buy from a non-standard company. This could be limits on actions like how many miles you can drive a car or getting discounts.

Even though non-standard coverage is generally expensive, you shouldn’t just go with the first company you see. Many companies offer non-standard insurance. You’re already going to be paying a lot, so you should try and save as much as you can.

Check out our article on the best car insurance for people with tickets and accidents on their driving record. We rank the better-known high-risk coverage options from best to worst. You may not find cheap coverage, but you’ll get the best deal possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is there any way to stop being high-risk?

A: There are ways that you can lower your risk as a driver and a customer. Taking steps to lower your risk can remove your high-risk label and bring your premiums back down to earth. Here’s how you can try and lower your risk:

  • Maintain a clean driving record
  • Take a defensive driving course
  • Have a good credit score
  • Don’t miss any insurance payments
  • Gain driving experience if you’re new

After you take the steps in the list above, it’s just a waiting game. It’ll be up to each insurer to decide whether you’re still high-risk. Remember that tickets and accidents typically stay on your record for about three to five years. Though, the exact number of years will depend on your state. This is about how long you can expect to stay high-risk before any change happens.

If that’s too long a wait and you’d like to switch to another insurer, one that handles new drivers better, we’ve got you covered. Check out our article, “Best Car Insurance Companies for New Drivers,” to find out if you can get a better deal.

Q: Can an insurer deny me insurance in a state risk pool?

A: Generally, insurers can’t deny you a policy in a state risk pool. They voluntarily join the pool to offer insurance to high-risk customers. This means that, no matter how bad your record is, you should have a chance to get an auto policy.

You should know that the rates that insurers in risk pools offer are usually very high. This is something you should prepare for before you try and buy coverage as a high-risk driver. Non-standard insurers will also offer policies at similarly high rates.

Q: What if I can’t afford high-risk car insurance?

A: Car insurance for high-risk drivers can be very expensive. But some states offer programs that can help you pay for it. If you can show that you’re low-income, you can receive financial aid in:

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • New Jersey

If you don’t live in one of these states, there’s not much more you can do. But if you have to drive, there are ways to lower your rates. You should look into getting discounts. They can add up and save you plenty of money each month. It’s also a good idea to compare quotes and find the best insurer to work with. Combining these methods can help you lower your rates and save money.

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