High-risk auto insurance companies specialize in providing affordable policies for drivers with a few too many tickets and accidents. Even if you have a DUI, DWI, or other major violation, low-cost options are available. Finding the companies that give you the cheapest prices, but still satisfy your state and bank requirements (if the vehicle is financed) are what we do best. Regardless of how bad your driving record is, we can help save you money by shopping for the best options. Just because you have a less-than-perfect record, doesn't mean you have to pay expensive premiums.
Selecting minimum required liability limits for bloodily injury and property damage will reduce costs, although higher coverage is generally recommended. Medical payments and uninsured (and underinsured) motorist protection is often optional, although collision and comprehensive coverage is required on all leased or purchased vehicles. If you have substitute transportation and towing benefits through a credit card, AAA, or AARP, you should not pay for a similar rider on your personal policy.
There are three types of driver classifications that companies use when determining prices.
Preferred Risk – A preferred risk driver is someone that generally follows the rules of the road and has a clean record. Typically, they also have at least 10 years behind the wheel. These drivers qualify for the lowest premiums and the highest discounts, as they tend to be involved in fewer accidents and are a lower risk to an insurer. Often, these drivers are in the 30-70 age bracket. Unmarried persons between the ages of 16-24 are rarely classified as "preferred."
Often, other family members are in the same preferred category, and additional lines of business can be found with the carrier. Credit is often considered very good (or excellent) with no history of bankruptcies. There are very few (if any) late payments received, and often there is a fairly close relationship between the broker and the customer. Higher deductibles (collision and comprehensive) along with increased liability limits are also common. The number of non at-fault accidents and claim incidents are generally small.
Standard Risk – This is where most drivers tend to fall on the risk spectrum. They may have incurred a speeding ticket, or been in an accident which leads to a higher risk factor, as well as a more expensive premium. There is the possibility for better prices if the driver moves into preferred risk. To change tiers, there may have to be a period of time (perhaps 12-24 months) of no activity or claims. Most vehicles are usually not considered "high-performance."
However, there are companies that are more lenient with their underwriting guidelines, and may be more concerned with the last 24 months, instead of the last 36-60 months. Thus, in this scenario, if you have multiple tickets that are between 24 and 48 months old, you may still qualify for great pricing. If you have multiple at-fault accidents, it will be more difficult to qualify for a better offer. The number of comprehensive claims submitted (fire, vandalism, theft, etc...) may also impact your pricing in this tier. Excellent credit is preferred, but not a requirement. Additional property and casualty products may be covered by the same carrier.
High-Risk – You do not want to end up here! But if you do, we'll get you out quickly and as inexpensively as possible. High-risk drivers tend to have a major violation on their record or a number of tickets and at-fault accidents. An extremely poor credit score can also put you in this category, along with numerous claims, even if the payouts were relatively low. Lack of experience driving is also a factor.
You can still get a low down-payment, and most available discounts will still apply. Since there are more "non-standard" policies available than ever before, finding a competitive offer is much easier for us to find for you. If your license has been recently suspended, there will be several options.
An SR-22 Bond may be required and possibly a reinstatement fee. But once those are filed and taken care of, some clean driving will bring the cost down. However, you will have to stay "clean" for a few years to see a significant difference in your premium, although you may see nominal decreases every 6-12 months.
High-risk drivers are considered a huge gamble, and pay the highest possible premiums. They often pay two to three times the rate that preferred drivers would be charged. Unfortunately, many young persons learn the hard way that the best way to find low teenager auto insurance rates is to limit time on the road and don't over the speed limit! Penalties are often harsher, and the resulting increases in auto insurance rates are typically larger than the increase charged to a driver over age 21.
How Did Your Rates Get This High?
While a serious driving offense such as a DUI or reckless driving charge will usually put you in a non-standard group, it can vary dramatically between states and insurer what offense will put you in that position. Actually, in some areas of the country, it may take at least three violations to be placed in a substandard category. Accidents that are not your fault, and comprehensive claims generally don't impact your premium.
Car insurance is regulated at a state level, so the number and type of violations that will make you a substandard driver is different. Your company will also have input, as standards for being moved into a high-risk pool will vary by insurer and in many cases those standards will be a bit of a mystery. Also, not all states have an assigned or high-risk pool (see further below). And surcharges for accidents will vary, depending upon your carrier and state of residence.
For example, three violations and an at-fault accident may be treated the same as two violations and an at-fault accident by two different companies. And sometimes accidents that result in payouts under a specific threshold (perhaps $500) are ignored. Also, if you hit another driver that is covered by the same carrier as yourself, a reduction in deductibles is possible. If you hit your own vehicle, generally, one deductible will apply, and not two. A common claim among new drivers is backing out of a garage or driveway, and hitting another family member's vehicle.
NOTE: Many states have set up their own "risk pools" that are designed to accommodate vehicle-owners that may not be able to obtain/afford coverage. For example, "assigned-risk" programs are the most common, and are managed by the state and private insurance companies. Typically, if you have been declined within the last 60-90 days, you are eligible. Some states, however, require that you have been declined twice within a specified period of time. Although rates are high, coverage is guaranteed, and the pool of available carriers is identical (or nearly-identical) to the carriers that underwrite standard risks.
"Reinsurance" is also offered in some states. This concept allows companies to place some of their business separately if they feel it will be extremely unprofitable. There is usually a limitation on the percentage of customers can be transferred and all carriers must absorb any losses resulting from the special reinsurance pool. For example, North Carolina created the NCRF (North Carolina Reinsurance Facility), which ensures that all eligible drivers can purchase coverage that meet state minimum guidelines. Amazingly, about one out of four drivers is covered through the program. More than 400 companies write policies through the program.
We Shop So You Can Save
Because underwriting guidelines are not uniform, we do all of the research for you, by finding the specific carriers that will offer the best premiums in your zip code. One company might offer extremely competitive prices for two moving violations, while a third speeding ticket may cause their rates to be 25% above the competition. Also, as tickets and accidents fall off your MVR report, much better rates may suddenly become available. The key time-period is 36-39 months after the violations occurred. But if additional at-fault accidents or moving violations occur, The wait could be an additional 12-24 months.
For example, if you and your family members had an especially bad experience two years ago (perhaps a few accidents and some additional tickets), of course, your premiums have gone up. But on the next annual renewal, you can expect a substantial price reduction as the activity drops off. Often, the surcharge ends three years from the date the actual penalty began. And sometimes, if an accident occurred in May, the extra premium may not have begun being applied until July or August. Thus, you may have to wait up to 42 months to see a reduction.
The majority of insurers have a point threshold, and once you go over it, you are labeled a high-risk driver. Points are put on your license for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to: speeding, running a red light, not stopping, hit and run, failure to yield, or causing a collision. Drivers will often be classified in a higher tier if they have three moving violations within three years. However, 2 violations within 12 months could also earn that label. Youthful drivers must be extra cautious, since any activity will likely cause an increase.
A serious offense, such as a DUI, will automatically vault you onto the high-risk list. In most states your license will be suspended if you are convicted. Many states require drivers to file an SR-22 form before their license will be returned. An SR-22 verifies that you are carrying the required amount of liability insurance. If your policy is cancelled or revoked due to non-payment, the state will be notified and your license will be suspended again. The SR-22 is not your personal coverage, and is used with your existing policy, but not as a replacement. Prices can vary, although the cost is less than providing liability coverage on a vehicle you own.
How To Lower Your Premium
If you constantly drive 20 miles-per-hour over the speed limit, higher rates eventually catch up with you. There are a few things you can do to bring your premiums down until you can move back into a standard risk category. Using these techniques and tips should save you money both short-term and long-term.
Shop Around – There are carriers who specialize in this type of situation and actively seek out those customers. Gather quotes from both these companies as well as more mainstream companies in order to find the best offers. Our quote box at the top of the page will take care of all of the hard work and research for you. We're constantly updating carrier offers so you receive the most current and cheapest options with just a few clicks. If you change vehicles, drivers, or residences, the quote engine is updated to reflect the new information. If you move to another state, required minimum liability requirements may impact your pricing.
Discounts – Ask your agent or broker to apply all discounts that you are eligible to receive. While the number of discounts that will be available to you, will not include some that are offered to a standard driver, there should be a few that can help lower your premium. Many offered discounts are not related to the number of violations you have, and the total savings could approach 30%-45%. These include age-related reductions, and addition of alarm system or good student discounts. Younger drivers with good grades can often save hundreds of dollars in premiums.
Also, joining certain organizations, such as AAA or AARP may offer savings that exceed the cost of membership. And of course, driver-training courses are typically available that can be taken. These will especially help prices for Seniors. Coupled with low-mileage and clean MVR discounts, the reduction in premium could exceed 20%. Completion of defensive-driving classes are often required as part of a license-reinstatement program. Most states offer multiple locations for classroom and driving courses.
Drive Right – This is best way to lower your premium. If you are required to keep an SR-22 Bond due to a serious driving offense, you are probably going to pay a higher premium for at least three years. If your status is due to a number of minor infractions, a couple of violation-free years could move you back into a standard category. If you can drive 24 months without any incidents, expect a significant reduction in cost. 36-48 months of clean driving will result in even more savings.
Not all car insurance companies offer affordable high-risk rates. But if you need this type of coverage, it's important to find these carriers so you don't overpay. That's what we do best for you. Finding the best non-standard prices and lowest down-payments are our specialty. And hopefully, you'll eventually transition from high-risk to preferred rates.