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Cheap auto insurance for high-risk drivers

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woman driving a car
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With car insurance as a mandatory expense for many drivers, being considered a high-risk driver could cost a considerable chunk of your budget. But just because high-risk drivers face more challenges finding cheap car insurance doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Instead, it may be even more important to shop around to see what savings are available. Bankrate’s insurance experts took a methodical approach to finding cheap auto insurance for high-risk drivers, starting with key metrics like average annual premiums, policy availability, discounts and more.

Key takeaways
  • Some of the cheapest car insurance companies for high-risk drivers include Selective, USAA and Erie.
  • The type of incident on your driving record and other individual factors affect how your insurance rates are calculated.

How Bankrate found cheap auto insurance for high-risk drivers

Finding cheap car insurance for high-risk drivers starts with understanding what constitutes a high-risk driver. Some factors are driving related, such as receiving a speeding ticket, being involved in an at-fault accident and being charged with a DUI. Other factors can include a lack of experience, like being a young driver in most states, a prior lapse in coverage or, in some states, a poor credit score.

From there, Bankrate’s team of insurance experts analyzed average premium data from Quadrant Information Services to see how insurance carriers adjusted rates for each different scenario. These average rates were based on drivers with one driving infraction on their motor vehicle record. We also reviewed insurers for their policy options, financial strength and customer service, among others, to find which might be the best car insurance companies for high-risk drivers.

Cheapest car insurance for high-risk drivers

High-risk drivers face a more difficult time finding cheap car insurance because car insurance companies presume that they are more likely to exhibit unsafe driving behaviors and file more claims compared to low-risk drivers, therefore leading to higher premiums or even denied coverage. While the average good driver pays a car insurance premium of $1,771 per year for full coverage and $545 per year for minimum coverage, high-risk drivers, on average, pay more than that.

But Bankrate’s extensive research reveals that there are affordable options available. Our investigation found that Selective, USAA and Erie offered the cheapest car insurance for high-risk drivers. Below are each company’s average rates for good drivers, which can be a useful baseline comparison for each of the different high-risk driving scenarios further below:

Car insurance company National average annual full coverage premium
Selective $1,159
USAA $1,209
Erie $1,321

Cheap car insurance for drivers with an at-fault accident

After an at-fault accident, car insurance companies will typically add a surcharge to your policy. While the final amount may depend on the severity of the accident and the amount paid out in a claim, it’s unlikely that you’ll pay close to the original premium you had as a driver with a clean driving record.

Our research showed that Selective, Erie and Auto-Owners offered some of the cheapest car insurance premiums for drivers with one at-fault accident on their record. Compared to Selective’s average premium for a good driver, its average premium for a driver with one at-fault accident was only $90 more per year.

Car insurance company Average annual full coverage rate
Selective $1,249
Erie $1,562
Auto-Owners $1,689
USAA $1,742
State Farm $1,769

Cheap car insurance for drivers with a speeding ticket conviction

Receiving a speeding ticket can be a serious violation, especially if you were significantly over the speed limit. A speeding ticket conviction can also have an impact on your car insurance premium. Based on our study, Selective’s average premium did not change for drivers with a single speeding ticket, and Erie and USAA’s policies were about $100 to $250 more.

Car insurance company Average annual full coverage rate
Selective $1,159
Erie $1,435
USAA $1,464
Auto-Owners $1,507
Geico $1,586

Cheap car insurance for drivers with a DUI conviction

A DUI conviction can be one of the most severe driving infractions and stay on your record for up to 10 years, although it may be even longer or permanent in some states. As car insurance companies consider drivers with a DUI conviction to be some of the riskiest to insure, it reflects clearly in the rates. Drivers with a DUI insured with Selective pay around $650 more per year compared to a driver with a clean record. At the next two cheapest companies, Progressive and Mercury, drivers with a DUI conviction have average rates of over $2,000 per year for full coverage car insurance.

Car insurance company Average annual full coverage rate
Selective $1,809
Progressive $2,049
Mercury $2,133
Erie $2,285
State Farm $2,293

Cheap car insurance for young drivers

Young drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents compared to older drivers because of their lack of experience. As such, young drivers pay some of the most expensive car insurance premiums, but we found that Erie, USAA and Auto-Owners have some of the cheapest car insurance for 18-year-olds on their own policy. However, age is not a factor in all states — in Massachusetts and Hawaii, drivers won’t see an impact on their car insurance based on their age.

Car insurance company Average annual full coverage rate
Erie $2,904
USAA $3,353
Auto-Owners $3,386
State Farm $3,812
Geico $3,877

*Rates based on 18-year-old drivers who rent and have their own policy.

Cheap car insurance for drivers with a lapse in coverage

A lapse in car insurance coverage can occur if you pay your premiums or if you are switching carriers and your original policy ends before your new one starts. Depending on how long the lapse lasts, your car insurance rates might not be impacted significantly, as seen with the marginal increase in Selective’s average full coverage rate compared to its rate for good drivers. However, more apparent additional costs can be incurred, as shown in USAA’s, Auto-Owners’ and Erie’s increased rates for drivers with a lapse in coverage.

Car insurance company Average annual full coverage rate
Selective $1,160
USAA $1,290
Auto-Owners $1,306
Erie $1,327
Geico $1,371

What makes a driver high-risk?

Insurance companies look at a driver’s past driving, claims and insurance history to predict the possibility that they will file more claims in the future. Some specific factors include:

  • Having poor credit: Drivers with poor credit are statistically more likely to also file more claims. For this reason, insurance companies often factor this in while calculating insurance rates, although it is not permitted in certain states.
  • Doing a hit-and-run: Causing an accident and fleeing the scene is considered a very serious offense and could even come with criminal charges. Drivers with a hit-and-run on their driving record are very likely to be considered a high-risk driver by car insurance companies.
  • Excessive speeding: Driving at excessively high speeds means that there is less time to adjust for potentially dangerous situations and course correct. Driving at speeds 15 mph over the speed limit or more, or continuing to speed even after receiving speeding tickets can signal to an insurance company that a driver is especially high-risk and reckless.

How to prevent a high-risk driver status

Taking precautions while driving can help you maintain a clean driving record. Some safe driving habits include:

  1. Leaving early. If possible, try to allow as much time as needed for you to reach your destination. Check real-time traffic before you leave to see if there are any accidents or slowdowns on your route so you can adequately prepare.
  2. Maintaining safe speeds. Driving at an appropriate speed is one of the easiest ways to stay safe while driving. Avoiding speeding can give you more time to anticipate hazards around you and react to drivers. Other safe driving habits include increasing your following distance and using your turn signals and mirrors to change lanes safely.
  3. Considering accident forgiveness. Despite our best efforts, accidents can happen. If your car insurance company has the option, consider purchasing accident forgiveness. With this add-on, the surcharge on your first at-fault accident is waived. You might still lose a good driver discount, but losing the discount without an additional surcharge could still save you from paying considerably more in premiums.

Frequently asked questions

Written by
June Sham
Insurance Writer
June Sham is an insurance writer for Bankrate. Before joining the team, she worked for nearly three years as a licensed producer writing auto, property, umbrella and earthquake policies.
Edited by
Insurance Editor