It can be hard to find affordable car insurance for high-risk drivers. Insurance companies use a long list of factors to determine rates. If you fall into a high-risk auto insurance category, you may end up paying significantly more for car insurance, regardless of how careful you are behind the wheel.
Some car insurance companies are more lenient than others when it comes to issuing high-risk driver insurance. If you are hoping to avoid the soaring rates that accompany being labeled a risk factor by your insurer, these alternative carriers might be willing to offer you a better deal.
Best auto insurance companies for high-risk drivers
Some providers stand out for its options or willingness to cover drivers who are considered high-risk.
If you have recently been in an accident, you will likely see your rate go up as a result. Unless you were already enrolled in an accident forgiveness program, you may not be able to avoid paying higher premiums at the time of your policy renewal. With Allstate, however, you might see your monthly payments go down faster than you think.
For context, consider the impact to rates when an accident is factored into your record:
|National average annual premium before accident||National average annual premium after accident|
On average, U.S. drivers see about a 44% increase in premiums after an accident. If you have more accidents before your policy renews, the increase will likely be even greater.
Allstate offers the most generous accident forgiveness program in the industry. Rewards begin accumulating after six months of being accident-free when you add on the Allstate Safe Driving Bonus. For additional savings, consider enrolling in Drivewise, the provider’s app-based safe driving program that tracks your driving activity and rewards you for good behavior. Before long, you’ll see those extra dollars start to fall off your monthly bill.
The General is generally regarded as a good insurance option for all high-risk drivers, but those with a DUI on their record may see additional benefit. In addition to rates and policies that cater to high-risk drivers, those with a DUI can also get an SR-22 from The General — a requirement in most states following serious infractions. The impact to rates is the highest among high-risk variables:
|Average annual premium before a DUI||Average annual premium after a DUI|
One possible downside is that The General may not have as many policy and discount options as competitors. If you are switching from another provider, you may have to adjust coverage to something less customizable.
Unfortunately, young drivers may not be able to avoid paying for high-risk auto insurance rates. Those with fewer years of driving experience have an increased risk of getting in an accident by default, which will decrease as they gain years of practice. In the meantime, young drivers can keep premiums to a minimum by choosing a provider like Erie Insurance, who offers rates and discounts that may be more appealing to younger drivers.
Auto policies also come with roadside assistance; good protection for new drivers who are just starting to venture out on their own. Unfortunately, Erie Insurance is only available in 11 states and the District of Columbia.
On average, parents who add a teen driver to their policy can expect to pay the following:
|Average premium increase after adding a teen driver|
If you’re the parent of a teen driver, it may be a priority to find savings wherever possible; comparing provider rates and available young driver discounts or coverage options may help.
Nationwide: Best for bad credit
Your credit score is one of the determining factors when pricing your policy in some states. Depending on the state you live in, here is what you might expect if your credit score declines from good to average:
|Average annual premium with good credit||Average annual premium with average credit|
Though not as impactful as some of the other high-risk factors list, having a credit score decline can still be a significant risk and affect rates. If your credit standing is poor, compared to average, the difference will generally be even higher in states that allow credit to factor into rates.
Our analysis of top car insurance companies in 2021 found Nationwide offers rates particularly competitive for drivers with bad credit. Drivers with room for improvement on their credit score may have a good chance of finding affordable rates, although comparing quotes is the best way to make that determination.
With Nationwide’s SmartRide program, drivers that are considered high-risk due to their credit can demonstrate safe driving habits and earn a discount of up to 40%. This can potentially be an effective method of offsetting higher premiums due to non-driving-related factors. Nationwide also provides plenty of additional ways to save, with discounts for automatic payments, bundling policies and maintaining an accident-free driving record.
Car insurance costs for high risk drivers
If you are considered a ‘high-risk’ driver, on average, you are likely going to pay more for car insurance. The amount you will pay, however, varies by driver and state. Some ‘risks’ are weighed more heavily than others by insurance companies. The table below compares the national average rates with and without various risk factors applied, to better illustrate this scenario:
|Clean record||Speeding||Accident||DUI||New driver|
Rates after a speeding ticket
According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding is the cause of one-third of all crash fatalities. For the risk speeding represents, it is no surprise that this factor can cause rates to increase if a speeding ticket is present on your driving record.
Rates after an accident
An at-fault accident is a red flag to insurance companies because it can indicate your present and future driving behavior may contain one or more of the following:
- Distracted driving
- Incomplete knowledge of traffic laws
- Disregard of road signs or traffic lights
- Aggressive driving
Because of the compound risks involved, insurers commonly increase rates significantly if you caused an accident in the last year or so.
Rates after a DUI
A DUI is typically considered the riskiest driving behavior to an insurance company, for a few key reasons. For starters, drunk driving is still a leading cause of traffic fatalities; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates around 28 people a day are killed in drunk-driving crashes. Furthermore, a person who gets one DUI is likely to get another. According to the NHTSA, about one third of all DUI arrests are of repeat offenders, and DUI offenders are 4.1 times more likely to die in a car wreck than other drivers. All of this leads to the most significant increase in auto insurance premiums if a DUI conviction is present on your record.
Rates for new drivers
According to the CDC, car accidents is the second leading cause of death among U.S. teens. Car accidents can be attributed to a variety of reasons, but the research indicates teens are more likely to:
- Drive aggressively
- Not use seat belts
- Use their cell phone
Inexperience also plays a role. New drivers have less experience with adverse driving conditions, night-time driving and recognizing dangerous driving behavior in others on the road. For all of these reasons, teens are more likely to get into a car accident than older drivers, and rates are affected accordingly. If you are the parent of a teen driver, you can likely expect a steep increase with a teen driver added to your policy.
What is high-risk car insurance?
High-risk car insurance is simply a standard auto insurance policy written for a driver deemed to have a higher chance of causing an accident. When insurance companies decide that a driver represents a higher risk to insure, they raise rates are typically increased to compensate for the increased likelihood providers will have to pay for a claim.
Who is a high-risk driver?
A high-risk driver is someone an insurance company believes has a significant chance of getting in an accident. There are several qualities that can lead to a driver being considered high-risk. These include:
- Age (young and inexperienced drivers, or older drivers with health issues that affect driving)
- Being in an area with high crime rates
- History of driving violations
- Past accidents
- Poor credit
A single factor may not be enough to have a driver labeled as high-risk, but the more apply to your situation, the greater likelihood you may be quoted higher premiums.
Other 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. Following posted speed limits, avoiding accelerating or braking quickly and limiting distractions by placing your cell phone out of reach are commonly recommended best-practices. To lower the chance of being involved in a crash out of your control, it may help to limit time spent driving during nighttime hours and in inclement weather.
Frequently asked questions
What is the best car insurance company?
The best car insurance company will depend on highly personal factors, particularly for drivers who may be considered high-risk. Collect and compare quotes and research providers to determine your best options.
How do I find affordable car insurance for high-risk drivers?
The most effective way to get the best rate on car insurance is to compare quotes from multiple providers. If you fall under one or more high-risk categories, try asking for pricing from the companies listed above to see if you can find a more competitive rate for your circumstances.
Can I get car insurance after a DUI?
If you are convicted of a DUI, most states will require you to get an SR-22 form in order to reinstate your license. This is simply a document that proves you’re maintaining adequate coverage following risky driving behavior. Depending on your state and provider, you may or may not be eligible for a policy renewal with your current insurer.
How do I avoid high-risk auto insurance?
To keep insurance rates low, avoid behaviors that might cause your insurance company to consider you a risk factor. Practicing safe driving habits, maintaining your credit history and avoiding drinking and driving are highly-recommended.
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 coverages that meet 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.
Credit: Rates were calculated based on the following insurance credit tiers assigned to our drivers: “poor, average, good (base), and excellent.” Insurance credit tiers factor in your official credit scores but are not dependent on that variable alone. The following states do not allow credit to be a factor in determining auto insurance rates: CA, HI, MA
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.