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.
Amica’s average annual premium increases for both speeding tickets and at-fault accidents are relatively modest, making the company a decent choice for drivers with less-than-stellar driving records. The insurance provider also has the second-lowest annual premium on our list for drivers with clean driving records. If you opt to insure your car with Amica before getting into an accident, you could choose its Good Driving Rewards coverage feature, which allows you to earn points for safe driving. The points may be used toward accident forgiveness, which could lower the premium impact if you do cause an accident.
Learn more: Amica Insurance review
Erie has the lowest average percentage increases for all the driving incidents of the companies on our list. However, the company might be particularly good for high-risk insurance after a speeding ticket conviction. On average, drivers with Erie only see a 4% annual premium increase after getting a speeding ticket. Erie also has the cheapest coverage on our list for safe drivers with clean driving records. The regional auto insurance company is only available in 12 states and Washington, D.C., so Erie car insurance might not be an option for everyone.
Learn more: Erie 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
Nationwide’s average percentage increases for at-fault accidents, speeding tickets and DUI convictions are relatively low compared to some other companies on our list. The carrier could be a good choice for anyone looking for high-risk insurance. Nationwide particularly stands out for its SmartRide program. If you have a few incidents on your record — for example, an at-fault accident and a traffic violation — SmartRide might help you control your premium increase. You will probably still see your rate go up after the accident, but if you avoid future incidents, SmartRide could reward you for demonstrating your safe driving skills.
Learn more: Nationwide 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 and come with a host of repercussions. If you have a DUI conviction, you can typically expect to pay more for car insurance.
- Reckless driving: Reckless driving convictions 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 scores are statistically more likely to file claims, so insurance carriers 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. Washington State currently has a credit-based insurance score ban that is on hold while it is being contested.
- 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 and state. 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 23%.
|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 38%, 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 crashes 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. The rates below for 16- and 17-year-old drivers represent the increase in cost to add the driver to a parents’ policy. The 18-year-old driver’s rate is calculated on their own policy.
|National average full coverage premium||Average annual cost to add a 16-year-old driver||Average annual cost to add a 17-year-old driver||Average annual premium for a 18-year-old driver*|
*Rates calculated for an 18-year-old renter on their own 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 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 2021 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. 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 2019 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.
Incident: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the following incidents applied: clean record (base), at-fault accident, single speeding ticket, single DUI conviction and lapse in coverage.
Teens: Rates were determined by adding a 16- or 17-year-old teen to a 40-year-old married couple’s policy. The rates displayed reflect the added cost to the parents’ policy.