Do you have a bad driving record? Did you recently get a DWI, DUI or other major violation, or has your license been recently suspended? Have you been involved in several accidents which may not have been your fault? Is your credit poor or did you just get your driver's license? Do you own a high-performance car? Do you need to instantly compare multiple quotes now? Do you need an SR-22 Bond?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may be considered a "high risk" and are finding it very difficult or impossible to find affordable car insurance rates. With our 38 years of expert and unbiased experience helping consumers just like you, we find the lowest available prices. If you need a low down-payment or same-day coverage, we show you how to get it. Non-standard coverage doesn't have to be expensive. When we shop, you usually save. Flexible coverage also helps lower your out-of-pocket costs, and meet state minimum liability requirements.
NOTE: You can instantly compare the companies with the best options by providing your zip code at the top of the page, viewing the carriers that offer the best options in your area, and reviewing rates.
Am I "High Risk?"
A "high risk" or substandard driver is a driver that the insurance company feels has a very high propensity for claims. Or, To state it bluntly, is an accident waiting to happen. Typically, this person can not be charged a high enough premium to satisfy the company's actuarial projections. In many households, not all drivers are considered "high risk." We have listed below the most common reasons persons are placed in this category:
Age -- Generally, if you are over the age of 75 (especially 80), you may be categorized as a "non-standard" driver. Although your MVR report may be clean, the propensity of at-fault accidents and fender-benders that occur in this classification are high. Unless your policy is being terminated, it probably is not a wise idea to change companies at these ages, especially if you recently have been involved in an accident or submitted multiple claims. The potential for filing multiple claims is often larger for drivers over age 70.
Age Again -- If you are under age 19, and you have had multiple tickets and/or at-fault accidents, don't expect a preferred rating. If you are combined on a policy with at least one parent, you may "inherit" the loyalty and good-driver discounts, thus avoiding much higher rates. If the vehicle is titled to you with no supporting family business, prices will be higher. At this age, it's critical that you avoid major violations. However, once you reach age 21 or get married (reaching age 21 is cheaper!), prices reduce.
Multiple Claims -- Often it is not the size of a claim that is most important, but rather the quantity of claims that are submitted. For example, if Driver A submitted a single $15,000 claim within the last three years, while Driver B submitted five claims totaling $5,000, Driver B would be much more susceptible to being placed in a non-standard category and/or receiving a larger rate increase. For that reason, a cost-effective strategy is to utilize higher deductibles and avoid submitting several small claims.
No Prior Coverage -- If you own a vehicle that is not presently insured, you will not receive "preferred" classification, and most likely will receive a "non-standard" classification. Usually, this results in premiums that are approximately 25%-50% higher and possible ineligibility for specific discounts. Prior qualified coverage must be in-force for at least 6-12 months, and meet all state liability limit requirements. Often, you will have to slowly transition from "non-standard" to "standard" to "preferred" ratings.
Major Violation(s) -- If a DUI, DWI, Reckless Operations or Hit And Run appears on your MVR report, it will be difficult to avoid larger premiums. Also, a combination of less-serious violations, such as speeding, driving through a stop sign, and not stopping for a red light could place you in a high-risk situation. Needing an SR-22 Bond will also affect the price you pay.
Although 1-2 tickets should not cause a change, typically, four or more are going to force an underwriting change. Other major violations that can substantially impact your premium include drag racing, passing a stopped school bus, negligent homicide, operating a vehicle without a valid license, and fleeing a police officer.
Bad Or Lousy Credit -- Although not all companies consider your credit rating when calculating your rates, it's still a good idea to know in advance your credit score, and whether the carrier you are currently covered with, or considering to change to, utilizes credit in their underwriting process. You are entitles to one free annual review of your credit, without any obligation or cost. However, do not pay for additional reports, since it is generally not needed.
Cheapest Companies If You Have Many Tickets Or Accidents
Before providing a list of potential carriers, it is important to understand that each state has different companies that may offer the most competitive pricing, and different sets of underwriting criteria, which can result in very different rates in each state. Also, this is a partial list that represents the carriers that typically offer affordable pricing in multiple ticket/accident situations:
State Minimum Insurance Requirements
Each state requires owners of vehicles to "stay legal," by providing a minimum amount of bodily injury coverage per person and per occurrence, along with a specified amount of property damage. Uninsured and/or underinsured motorist protection, along with PIP (Personal Injury Protection) may also be required. If you don't meet or exceed these specified limits, you can not legally operate a vehicle in that state. However, often the "minimum" requirements are very low and should be increased. If you have substantial assets, then a personal umbrella rider should be strongly considered. However, since these contracts are underwritten, if any driver has multiple violations on their driving record, the application may be denied.
Bodily Injury And Property Damage
Bodily injury typically includes sickness, illness, medical treatment and any other related or applicable expenses.Typically, a court judgment must be awarded before the insurer disperses the money. However, in situations where there is clear determination of the policyholder's fault, funds can be initially released to pay specific expenses. Intentionally causing harm or damage to others is, of course, not covered. And it's always important to understand your policy provisions regarding lending your vehicle to another person. If this type of action is excluded, it's important to never let any uncovered driver operate your vehicle.
Property damage can include another person's vehicles, home or other possessions damaged or destroyed, along with negligent or accidental acts that cause damage. Repair and/or replacement costs are covered, including the labor and materials needed. If you are only partially negligent, you still may be held responsible. Typical policy amounts are $25,000 to $100,000. However, many states still require amounts of $10,000 or less. Regardless of the state minimum, $50,000 is the least acceptable limit you should carry, if financially possible. NOTE: Damage to your own vehicle is not covered under this portion of the policy.
Uninsured And Underinsured Motorists
When another driver has no liability coverage, or does not have adequate coverage to pay for sustained damage/injuries, uninsured and underinsured coverage will apply. An additional property damage benefit is also available to help pay for physical damage to your vehicle. Although these coverages are not a requirement in all states, you should always select the benefit, if available and offered. The cost of adding UM and UIM coverage to your policy is not significant, and can easily be offset by good-driver discounts.
Below, we have listed the states that have the largest percentage of drivers without coverage, and of course, the highest number of submitted UM claims. Unless stronger legislative action is taken, we highly recommend adding UM and UIM to your existing policies, or increasing your current limits.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP), otherwise known as "no-fault" insurance, is available in states that don't consider which party was responsible for the accident. This benefit can either be mandated by the state as a requirement of driving, or may be offered as a rider to a new or existing policy.
Some of the expenses that PIP can potentially pay include hospital bills (room charges, ER, surgeon and doctor fees, anesthesia, diagnostic tests, and MRIs), lost wages, funeral expenses, prescriptions, and rehabilitation costs. Regardless if you have PIP protection, personal health insurance coverage should always be maintained. If your policy does not meet ACA Legislation guidelines, you will be liable for a 2.5% household income tax penalty.
How Long Do You Stay "High Risk?"
It depends on a variety of factors including the volume and severity of violations, your carrier underwriter guidelines, driving records of other household members, and severity of accidents (if applicable). However, when you are in this situation, before considering changing insurers, it's critical to consult a broker (or established website such as ours), and review the ramifications of changing.
Back to the original topic of how long you stay...Of course, when your MVR report shows no activity, certainly you are no longer considered a substandard risk. However, what if you have been clean for 12-18 months, but multiple incidences remain visible on your driving record? In these situations, although the rate may have reduced, you are still not going to receive your company's best prices and offers. It is always a good idea to compare your options, but by waiting 12-18 months longer, you may actually save more money.
For major violations, such as DUI, DWI, reckless operation, and hit and run, it's imperative to avoid additional tickets or at-fault accidents within the next 3-5 years. Not only will it almost guarantee that you will be eligible for standard or preferred pricing, but it will make it much easier to change carriers since your new quotes should be very competitive.
What Happens When You Need An SR-22 Bond?
An SR-22 Bond accompanies high-risk car insurance policies and is generally required after you have been convicted of a DUI, DWI, or another major violation. If you were involved in an at-fault accident while driving without coverage, it's likely a Bond will be required.
Often, your driver's license is temporarily suspended or restrictions are placed on when and where you can drive. Often referred to as a Certificate of Responsibility (CFR), it is actually not a separate insurance policy. Although the cost is not significant, it must be maintained for approximately three years along with your existing auto insurance policy (assuming you own a vehicle).
The legal filing of the contract originates from the insurer that you choose, and it verifies that you have met all of the legal minimum required liability limits in your state. You are typically notified in writing by the State DMV if you are required to purchase an SR-22. Although not many companies issue these types of bonds, we still shop for the best prices.
Car-sharing services are rapidly becoming more popular and the issue of which party is responsible for damages directly resulting from an accident becomes more relevant. Generally, your private auto policy covers persons in your household and anyone else that is given permission to drive your vehicles.
However, since some carriers consider participating in ride-sharing as high-risk, advising your company if you are enrolled in this type of program may be a good idea. Uber, Sidecar, and Lyft are the major US services.
Several new companies entered the non-standard car insurance market last year. Although Progressive and Safe Auto were the original "pioneers," many new carriers now offer polices, including sister-companies of larger carriers, such as Allstate and State Farm. Some of the current, but not as recognizable players are Affirmative, Direct General, Infinity, United Auto, The General, Victoria, and Titan.