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What is non-standard auto insurance?

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Driving without auto insurance can lead to a whole host of financial and legal troubles. Most states in the U.S. have minimum auto insurance laws which require that all drivers, or vehicles, meet at least a certain amount of minimum auto insurance coverage. In most cases, this is called basic liability insurance. However, for risky drivers, it can be a bit more complicated.

When past traffic incidents or other issues have categorized you as an unusually risky driver, your insurer may place you within their non-standard auto insurance category. The coverage of these policies is generally the same, but they tend to be noticeably more expensive than the average cost of standard auto insurance. This higher cost reflects the increased financial risk that the driver represents compared to others in their broad demographics. In general terms, incidents that cause financial damage tend to lead to higher insurance premiums.

What is non-standard auto insurance?

Non-standard insurance isn’t a type of policy, so much as it is a category of restrictions or limits placed on otherwise standard insurance policies. These restrictions are typically used to protect against the financial risks represented by drivers who have a substantial record of traffic or insurance violations. Non-standard auto insurance is a category reserved for customers who insurance companies see as the highest-risk drivers.

Typically, this means higher rates for the same amount of coverage as other drivers, but there may be further restrictions on coverage as well. In some cases, you may be required to purchase higher coverage limits than a standard basic liability policy provides to guard against the financial risks posed by being a hazardous driver. Higher premiums help balance the expectation of more payouts, while more significant coverage requirements can help prevent you from being financially responsible for an incident you cannot afford. Higher coverage requirements can also reflect the higher likelihood that a given driver will be involved in an expensive incident.

Why would someone need non-standard car insurance?

If you’ve had enough traffic violations, your insurance company might place you on non-standard insurance. In a broad sense, this classification is for drivers who are risky to insure, primarily due to more serious traffic or insurance violations, such as:

  • DUI
  • Numerous tickets
  • Driving without insurance
  • Suspended license
  • Reckless driving

These types of offenses, especially when there are numerous occurrences, make a driver a greater financial risk for the insurance company. For instance, someone who speeds a lot or has had multiple DUIs is more likely to get into a serious accident.

How do you get a non-standard car insurance policy?

Many of the larger car insurance companies offer non-standard insurance options, so you may not even need to switch carriers. However, you may be able to find better rates with smaller, more specialized auto insurance companies. Some auto insurers specialize in risky drivers and may offer more competitive rates to those customers as a result.

It’s usually a good idea to shop around and compare quotes before committing to any insurance company so you can find the best coverage at the best price. You might want to also look into the average cost of auto insurance in your state to establish a baseline for reasonable premiums in your area.

When in doubt, find a licensed insurance agent to talk to about your insurance needs. A licensed expert can help you navigate all the different options available.

How do you save money if you have higher premiums because of a non-standard policy?

The increased rates that go with non-standard auto insurance policies can be a pain, but there are often ways to lower costs. For starters, try doing a little research to see which car insurance companies in your area offer the cheapest rates. Many insurance companies also offer discounts to help lower premiums, both in the short and long term. You can take advantage of things like paperless billing and policy bundling right away while gaining a safe driving discount will take longer.

Improving your driving record will take time but is one of the best ways to bring your premiums back down. It might be worth taking a look at your insurance carrier as well as state laws to see how long certain offenses will stay on your record.


How long will I need non-standard auto insurance?

Insurance-related penalties for driving offenses that may make you require non-standard auto insurance are based on many factors and will vary. Still, it’s relatively common for insurance penalties to last for roughly three to five years. Further violations will likely increase the amount of time you’re required to get non-standard insurance.

How much more expensive is non-standard auto insurance?

Actual rate increases vary significantly based on several factors, including where you live and what offenses are on your record. Non-standard auto insurance can cost as much as five times higher than standard rates, though. It might be a good idea to speak with a licensed insurance agent if you have several serious driving offenses on your record to try to find the most reasonable premiums.

What is the best car insurance?

The best car insurance company is not the same for everyone. It’s usually wise to shop around and compare providers and coverage options. When in doubt, speak with a licensed insurance agent to determine which insurance options are best for you.

Written by
Joshua Cox-Steib
Insurance Contributor
Joshua Cox-Steib has two years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as Bankrate,, The Simple Dollar,, and more. His work has also been featured on such sites as MSN and BBB (Better Business Bureau). His insurance writing career has spanned across multiple product lines, with a primary focus on auto insurance, life insurance, and home insurance.