High-risk drivers — those who are inexperienced or have tickets, accidents, DUI/DWI convictions or lapses in coverage — might have a harder time finding affordable insurance than drivers with clean driving records. But auto insurance coverage is important whether you have a spotless record or not, so high-risk drivers still need to find a policy that works for their needs.
If you are considered a high-risk driver, you will likely have a higher car insurance premium than standard drivers. Your car insurance rate is based on the amount of risk you present to an auto insurance company. Generally, the more likely you are to file a claim, the more you’ll pay for a policy. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team investigated various components of high-risk auto insurance to help you learn how to navigate your coverage choices.
What is high-risk car insurance?
High-risk auto insurance is simply an auto insurance policy written for a driver deemed to have a higher chance of filing a claim. The greater the likelihood of you filing a claim, the more a car insurance company is likely to charge you for coverage. Higher premiums help insurance companies offset the greater risk that these drivers pose.
Best auto insurance companies for high-risk drivers
High-risk drivers may be more limited when shopping for coverage. Not all car insurance companies are willing to take on high-risk auto insurance policies. Bankrate analyzed average annual full coverage premiums, provided by Quadrant Information Services, for the largest car insurance companies in the nation. We broke these premiums into four categories: drivers with clean driving records, drivers with one at-fault accident, drivers with one speeding ticket conviction and drivers with a DUI conviction. We also reviewed each company’s coverage offerings, available discounts, policy features and third-party scores to help you get a well-rounded view of each provider.
If you need high-risk car insurance, keep in mind that you will likely pay more for coverage than drivers with clean records. The following companies offer competitive average car insurance rates and solid coverage options, but you can see from the table below that prices increase if you have an incident on your driving record.
Average annual full coverage premiums by driving incident
|Car insurance company||Clean driving record||At-fault accident||Speeding ticket||DUI*|
*Not all companies will write auto insurance policies for drivers with DUIs. Company guidelines vary by state.
State Farm’s average car insurance rates may not be some of the cheapest compared to other carriers, but it does come below the national average for each of the different high-risk driving scenarios. New drivers might want to take advantage of its SteerClear program to practice safe driving habits and earn an extra discount, while more experienced drivers can enroll in its telematics Drive Safe and Save program to earn up to 50% off.
Learn more: State Farm Insurance review
A DUI is a serious offense and the repercussions are severe, including a higher car insurance premium. If you need high-risk car insurance after a DUI conviction, Geico could be a good choice. Although the average annual premium increase is steep, Geico’s increase is less than the national average premium increase. Additionally, not all companies will take on insurance policies for drivers with DUIs, but Geico typically will. If your license is suspended, you may need to have the company file an SR-22 or FR-44 form with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) on your behalf to reinstate it.
Learn more: Geico Insurance review
Progressive’s average car insurance rates for drivers with a DUI is one of the lowest on this list. Considering that DUIs are a serious driving violation, drivers with DUI might stand to save some money if quoting with Progressive. The carrier also offers a few optional coverage types like ridesharing coverage and custom parts and equipment coverage to better tailor your car insurance to your lifestyle and needs. While Progressive is widely available, there are 10 states where it does not operate.
Learn more: Progressive Insurance review
Allstate’s average car insurance rates after a driving incident can be more expensive compared to other carriers, but it does offer SR-22 coverage for drivers who are required by the DMV to have it. In addition, certain programs can help with decreasing the cost. With its Deductible Rewards program, drivers could earn up to $100 off their collision deductible for every year without a driving incident, and enroll in Drivewise, its telematics program that rewards drivers for practicing safe driving habits.
Learn more: Allstate Insurance review
USAA offers some of the most competitive car insurance rates in the nation, and high-risk drivers could take advantage of its rates too. Its average car insurance rates after an at-fault accident, speeding ticket and DUI are some of the lowest on this list. The company also consistently receives high ratings for customer service from J.D. Power, although it isn’t officially ranked due to eligibility restrictions. This is because only military members, veterans and qualifying family members can purchase insurance from USAA, so it will not be an option for everyone.
Learn more: USAA Insurance review
Who is a high-risk driver?
A high-risk driver is anyone that has a greater likelihood of filing a car insurance claim. There are numerous factors that can cause an insurance company to view you as a high-risk driver, including:
- Age: Teens and young adults are generally more inexperienced than older drivers, which can lead to accidents. However, Hawaii and Massachusetts do not use age as a rating factor, so young drivers in these states shouldn’t be considered high-risk unless there are other factors at play.
- Traffic violations: One or more tickets for occurrences like speeding, disregarding traffic signals or following too closely could increase your premiums.
- At-fault accidents: An at-fault accident can indicate to an insurance company that you are more likely to cause another in the future.
- DUI/DWI convictions: DUIs and DWIs are serious infractions and come with a host of repercussions. If you have a DUI conviction, you can typically expect to pay significantly more for car insurance.
- Reckless driving: Reckless driving convictions — such as for running a red light or weaving through traffic — could mean you are more likely to cause an accident, so insurance companies will likely charge you more to compensate for the greater risk.
- Poor credit: In most states, your credit rating can be used as a car insurance rating factor. Drivers with bad credit-based insurance scores are statistically more likely to file claims, so insurance carriers may charge more. California, Hawaii and Massachusetts do not permit credit to be used as a rating factor. While Michigan does not allow credit scores to be used as a factor in calculating premiums, it does allow insurers to use some of the data that contributes to a consumer’s credit score.
- Lapses in coverage: Car insurance is legally required in almost every state, except New Hampshire and Virginia. If you let your car insurance policy lapse, you could be considered high-risk when purchasing a new policy.
Not all of these factors are created equal. A single DUI or reckless driving conviction is likely enough to make you a high-risk driver, but if you have just one traffic violation or a minor at-fault loss, you might not be high-risk, depending on the severity. Additionally, each car insurance company has its own calculation for high-risk drivers.
Car insurance costs for high-risk drivers
If you are considered a high-risk driver, you are likely going to pay higher insurance costs. However, the amount you will pay varies by driver, state and insurance company. Insurance companies weigh some risks more heavily than others. The best way to know how much you’ll pay for car insurance is to get quotes from several providers.
Rates after a speeding ticket
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding is the cause of one-third of all crash fatalities. Because of the risk speeding represents, a ticket can cause rates to increase an average of 21%.
|National average full coverage premium||National average full coverage premium after speeding ticket||Premium impact|
Rates after an at-fault accident
An at-fault accident is a red flag to insurance companies because it can indicate unsafe driving practices. Once you have caused one accident, you might be more likely to cause another. An at-fault loss could increase your annual premium by an average of 42%, but you might see a higher or lower increase depending on the severity of the accident you cause.
|National average full coverage premium||National average full coverage premium after at-fault accident||Premium impact|
Rates after a DUI
Insurance companies consider DUIs to be one of the riskiest driving behaviors. Drunk driving is still a leading cause of traffic fatalities. The NHTSA estimates around 28 people are killed in drunk-driving collisions every day in the U.S. Drunk driving accidents cause about $44 billion in damages each year. Because of this increased risk, a DUI is very likely to cause a significant increase in your car insurance rate.
|National average full coverage premium||National average full coverage premium after DUI||Premium impact|
Rates for new drivers
New drivers tend to have less experience on the road than older drivers. Teens are more likely to get into a car accident than any other age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Rates for teen drivers are usually higher to compensate for this risk. If you are the parent of a teen driver, you could expect a steep increase with a teen driver added to your policy. For example, by adding a new, 16-year-old driver, the average increase is about 118%, or $2,081 per year. The rates below for 16-, 17- and 18-year-old drivers represent the full cost once the driver is added to a parents’ policy.
|National average full coverage premium||16-year-old driver||17-year-old driver||18-year-old driver|
*Rates calculated for drivers on their parent’s policy
Rates after a lapse in coverage
Because car insurance is legally required in almost every state, letting your coverage lapse and driving without insurance will typically mark you as a high-risk driver. Unless you have no reason to carry auto insurance — for example, you exclusively use public transportation or otherwise do not own a vehicle — your car insurance policy should be in force at all times. Once you have had a lapse in coverage, you can expect a premium increase when applying for a new policy.
|National average full coverage premium||National average full coverage premium after a lapse in coverage||Premium impact|
Tips for safe driving
The most effective way to prevent being categorized as a high-risk driver is to avoid accidents and moving violations by practicing safe driving habits. Good drivers tend to pay lower rates because they have a lower risk of filing a claim. Some tips for driving more safely include:
- Follow posted speed limits. Speeding is a risky driving habit that can lead to accidents. Driving the speed limit could reduce your risk.
- Avoid accelerating or braking quickly. While you may need to react quickly to avoid potentially dangerous situations, a pattern of rapid accelerations or braking can indicate reckless behavior.
- Limit distractions. Placing your cell phone out of reach, turning down your music to a reasonable level, using hands-free devices and avoiding multi-tasking while driving can help you stay focused on the road.
- Avoid adverse conditions. While it’s probably not possible to never drive in heavy traffic, bad weather, or late at night or early in the morning, you might lower your risk of being in an accident if you can avoid hazardous road conditions.
Many states have defensive driving classes for both teens and adults. If you think you could brush up on your safe driving skills, you might want to consider enrolling. Your insurance carrier might even give you a discount for passing the course, but be sure to check into this before signing up for a class. Most companies that offer this discount have a list of approved classes.
Frequently asked questions
Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2022 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Rates are weighted based on the population density in each geographic region. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:
- $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
- $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
- $50,000 property damage liability per accident
- $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
- $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
- $500 collision deductible
- $500 comprehensive deductible
To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverage that meets each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2020 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.
These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.