Best Car Insurance for Bad Driving Records
Tickets and accidents on your record? Find out which companies have the lowest rates and best coverage if you have a bad driving history.
Auto insurance is expensive for drivers with lots of tickets and accidents. This is because companies see you as a risky driver if you have a spotty record. Once you rack up enough tickets or at-fault accidents, your rates will go up dramatically. If this describes you, you may want to switch insurers. We found that Progressive is the best car insurance for bad drivers.
Keep in mind that it’ll be hard to find affordable auto insurance if your record seems longer than a grocery list. The same is true if you’ve been busted for a severe moving violation or caused some accidents. This will cause insurers to label you a high-risk driver. When that happens, many major providers might not even write you a policy.
This article will explain how to get the best car insurance when you have a bad driving record. We’ll pinpoint the top companies to work with, as well as extra ways to save your hard-earned money. Here are some qualifying factors we’ll use to rank the best companies:
- Will they even write you a policy?
- What are their rates?
- Accident forgiveness
Compare the best insurers for bad driving records
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How Do You Know If You Have a Bad Driving Record?
It’s usually nothing to sweat if you got pulled over once or twice for going a little too fast, or you end up in the occasional fender bender. So, what makes up a poor driving record? You can say you have a bad driving record if any of the following describes you:
You’ve Gotten Lots of Tickets
Speeding tickets here and there won’t impact much. However, your driving record will suffer if you collect too many. This could make your provider see you as a higher risk, which will almost surely lead to increased auto insurance rates.
You Have a Knack for Causing Accidents
Collisions are bound to happen when there are so many cars on the road. But your insurer will consider you a bad driver if you can’t seem to stay out of them. This will raise your premiums and could get you the undesirable “high-risk” label.
You Got a DUI or Other Serious Violation
A DUI on your driving record is one of the worst violations possible. However, it’s not the only one. Other severe traffic violations include:
If you get just one of these on your record, your rates will go through the roof and your insurer could drop your policy. You may also have your license suspended.
Make sure to keep an eye on the number of violations or driver’s license points you have on your record. You can typically check your driving record by going to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website. Once there, you may need to fill out a request form and pay a fee before you can see a copy of your record.
Best Car Insurance for a Bad Driving Record: Progressive
Progressive is the best car insurance company for bad driving records. The nation’s third-largest auto insurer, it’s one of the select few major providers that write policies to high-risk drivers. You can even get coverage after a DUI.
As an overall company, Progressive ranks high for customer satisfaction and financial strength. The carrier has an A++ rating from A.M. Best and a score of 859 out of 1,000 in J.D. Power’s 2022 auto insurance study.
Progressive has lots of coverage, accident forgiveness, and a strong number of discounts you can easily get, even with a subpar driving record.
Progressive Accident Forgiveness
Accident forgiveness keeps your rates low after you’ve been in an at-fault accident. Progressive offers policyholders two options for forgiving accidents:
- Small Accident Forgiveness. This keeps your rates the same after a claim that costs $500 or less. You have it as soon as your policy begins.
- Large Accident Forgiveness. This keeps your rates from going up if your claim costs more than $500. To get this, you’ll have to already have stayed clear of accidents and tickets for five years, as well as be a Progressive customer for three years.
The important form of accident forgiveness to look at if you have a poor record is Progressive’s Small option. Unlike the Large version, it’s easy to get and protects your rates up to a solid threshold.
Progressive has all the main coverages you’d want to get with any insurance company. This includes but isn’t limited to:
- Personal injury protection (PIP)
- Medical payments coverage (MedPay)
- Uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage
- Roadside assistance
Progressive has a nice number of auto insurance discounts available to its policyholders. If you have a bad driving record, you’ll need all the chances you can get to lower your rates. For example, the Snapshot program can help you drive safer and lower your rates. Check out our Progressive shopping guide for a full list of discounts you can get.
Final Word on Progressive
Here are the benefits of getting insurance from Progressive:
- Writes policies to drivers with a DUI
- Tons of discounts
- Lots of coverage
- Good accident forgiveness program
- Well-established overall company with a good reputation
- It’ll help you get an SR-22 form after a DUI or severe violation
Because of the above, Progressive is our number-one choice for auto insurance if you have a bad driving record.
Second-Best Insurance Companies for a Bad Driving Record: State Farm
State Farm won the second spot in our ranking of best insurance companies for a bad driving record. It sells coverage to high-risk drivers, including those with a DUI.
If you work with State Farm, you’ll have the benefit of knowing it’s the largest insurer in the US. The company’s been around for a long time and has many services and products. Like Progressive, State Farm features excellent overall company ratings. It received an A++ from A.M. Best and an average auto insurance customer service score of 842 out of 1,000 from J.D. Power.
State Farm offers several main coverage options and many savings opportunities, including accident forgiveness.
State Farm Accident Forgiveness
State Farm only offers accident forgiveness to customers who’ve gone without a car wreck for nine years. You must contact an agent to find out if you’re eligible. If you’re reading this article, this probably isn’t an option for you. This is one of the main factors that give Progressive the edge over State Farm for auto insurance if you have a poor driving record.
State Farm Coverage
State Farm has a long list of available auto insurance coverages. Here are some of the most common ones it offers:
- Emergency road service
State Farm Discounts
State Farm has a list of over 15 auto insurance discounts. Good ones for a bad driving record include the multi-line (bundling) discount, defensive driving course discount, and Drive Safe & Save. To find out how to qualify, visit our State Farm shopping guide.
Final Word on State Farm
State Farm is the second-best insurance company for people with bad driving records. This is because it offers these benefits:
- Writes policies to high-risk drivers
- Wide selection of discounts
- Lots of coverage
- A large company with great ratings
- It’ll help with SR-22 forms after a DUI or severe violation
Third-Best Car Insurance for Bad Driving Records: GEICO
GEICO is the third-best car insurer for people with tickets and accidents on their driving record. Just like Progressive and State Farm, it offers policies to high-risk drivers. This insurer is also known for having some of the lowest rates around. This is a plus if your rates are already high.
GEICO has good overall company ratings. It got an A++ rating from A.M. Best and received an average customer satisfaction score of 835 from J.D. Power.
With GEICO, you can expect to get all the auto coverages you need. You can also save some money by qualifying for discounts and adding accident forgiveness to your policy.
GEICO Accident Forgiveness
There are two ways to get accident forgiveness from GEICO. However, only one of them is plausible if you have a bad record. You can get it by either:
- Adding it to your policy for a price
- Keeping your record clear of moving violations and accidents
Of course, you’ll want to buy it if you don’t have the best driving record. It may be a good idea if you frequently get into accidents and want to keep your rates low.
As is the case with any large insurer, GEICO provides all the main types of auto insurance coverage. This includes:
- Emergency road service
- Mechanical breakdown
GEICO has many discounts you can get to cut down on high rates. This includes savings for things like bundling, having a good student on your policy, having safety features on your car, and a lot more. Check out our GEICO shopping guide for more information on how to qualify for specific discounts.
Final Word on GEICO
GEICO is the number three auto insurer for people with a bad driving record. If you work with the company, you’ll get these benefits:
- Policies for high-risk drivers
- A range of discounts
- Good coverage
- Top company with outstanding ratings
- Help getting an SR-22 form after a DUI or severe violation
Compare Quotes From the Best Companies for Bad Driving Records
Poor driving record? You can get the lowest rates by comparing quotes among leading car insurance companies.
Honorable Mention Best Insurers for a Bad Driving History
Progressive, State Farm, and GEICO are the best major insurance companies for people with troubled driving records. However, many other insurers share similar qualities, and may just be right for you. These are four honorable mentions you should consider working with if you have a bad driving record:
You may be able to get insurance from Nationwide even if you have a few blemishes on your driving record. The company boasts great ratings and quite a few easily attainable discounts, even if you have a substandard record. You can also buy accident forgiveness from Nationwide as a policy add-on. It may be a good reason to consider the company since most other insurers require clean driving records to qualify for accident forgiveness.
USAA offers insurance to high-risk drivers with bad records. The company is also known for having some of the best customer satisfaction and rates in the business. USAA will also help you file an SR-22 form with your state after a DUI or other serious violation. The only downside to USAA is that it’s only available to military members.
If you have lots of points or accidents on your record, Liberty Mutual is a solid choice. The company has plenty of discounts and is one of the country’s ten biggest insurers. Accident forgiveness with Liberty Mutual, however, isn’t easy to get. You’ll have to go without tickets or accidents for five years to qualify.
Farmers Insurance is another large provider that’ll insure you when you have a bad record. You’ll be able to have a chance at several discounts and a great amount of coverage. To get the Farmers accident forgiveness, however, you must maintain a clean record for three years.
Specialty High-Risk Insurance Companies
If you have DUI on your record or other serious violations, you’ll likely need to get insurance from a company that specializes in providing policies to high-risk drivers. These insurers are also known as non-standard companies.
Here are some of the top national high-risk insurance providers:
- Direct Auto
- The General
- Safe Auto
- Bristol West
Final Ranking: Best Car Insurance Companies for Bad Drivers
We’ve researched the most popular insurers to find the best one for bad drivers. Here’s our final ranking of the best car insurance companies for bad driving records:
How to Lower Rates with Tickets and Accidents on Your Driving Record
Even if you find a company that’ll insure you with a bad driving record, you’ll still face high premiums. Especially if you’re a high-risk driver. However, there are some things you can do to get cheap car insurance:
1. Shop Around
As mentioned, one of the best strategies to lower your rates is to compare insurance quotes from several providers. As you shop around, you may find a company with a better deal or better benefits than your current carrier. Some companies are friendlier to drivers with bad records than others.
While you weigh prices and companies, be sure to check out our article on the best overall auto insurers. It ranks the top three providers in the nation, as well as several other leading ones by category.
2. Look for Discounts
One of the best ways to slash your car insurance rates—for anybody—is to look for discounts from your insurer. Some can lower your prices by a significant percentage. And, if you can get more than one discount, your sky-high rates from your troubled driving history can start to go down.
These are some common discounts you should try to get if you have a poor driving record:
- Low mileage discount
- Automatic payments
- Paperless/electronic billing
- Anti-lock brake discount
- Early signing discount
- Paid-in-full discount
- Passive restraint discount
- Insurance bundling/multi-policy
3. Focus on Driving Safely
This one seems obvious, but driving safely is the best defense against high rates. Even if you’ve had some issues in the past, you can always start building safe driving habits now. If you can put together about five years of safe driving with one insurance company, you could qualify for a safe driver discount (varies by insurer).
Picking up these habits behind the wheel can save you money and keep you out of trouble:
- Drive the speed limit. Speeding can get you tickets. But more than that, it can jeopardize your safety, as well as the drivers around you. Lowering your speed is safer for everyone. It’ll also save you some gas money!
- Put away your phone. Distracted driving resulted in 3,142 deaths in 2020, per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Putting down your phone will put your attention on the road and make everyone safer.
- Buckle up. Think about safety when you get in your vehicle. Make sure you and your passengers wear seat belts.
- Be defensive. Don’t try to be too aggressive on the road. Everyone wants to get to their destination in one piece. By being more conservative, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding accidents and saving money from expensive collision or liability coverage claims. Taking a defensive driving course can improve your driving skills and qualify your for a discount.
Every time law enforcement opens that little book and starts writing, it’s bad news for your insurance rates. If you get a ticket, consider fighting it in court. Don’t waste your money on a lost cause, but consult a lawyer if you think you have a case.
4. Improve Your Credit Score
Bad credit can affect both your ability to get coverage and how much you pay. That’s why it’s important to do everything you can to improve your credit rating. You don’t need perfect credit to see lower rates. Typically, any credit rating over 700 will make you look like less of a risk to your insurance carrier.
California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts have outlawed the use of credit scores when determining your rates. So, residents of those states won’t see higher rates for poor credit (or lower rates for good credit).
How We Chose Our Winners
We chose the best companies for people with poor driving records by comparing several of the largest insurers, as well as non-standard companies. We factored in relevant details such as:
- Policy eligibility
- Available discounts
- Ease of getting accident forgiveness
- Overall company ratings
- Average rates