Getting cheap car insurance is hard enough even with a clean driving record, and if you are a high-risk driver with tickets and violations in your history, being turned down by many insurers may be commonplace. But in most states, a minimum amount of auto insurance is mandatory to be able to drive legally, requiring you to be insured regardless of your driving history or the steep premiums.
The good news is that some insurance companies specialize in coverage options for high-risk drivers that have been declined by other insurers. Bristol West is one such provider worth considering if you have a spotty driving record but need comprehensive car insurance.
Part of the Farmers Insurance Company, Bristol West was formerly known as Foremost Insurance and has been in business since 1973. It started as a private automobile insurer for Florida residents and is now available to people across 42 states. As one of the top ten auto insurance companies in the US, Farmers has a market share of 2.92 percent and has underwritten over $20 billion worth of policies to date. The Fortune magazine named it one of 2020’s best companies to work for as well.
Bristol West Car Insurance
Although a small company compared to other car insurance providers, Bristol West has access to a larger pool of resources than most businesses its size. These resources allow the company to provide affordable auto insurance for all drivers, including previously uninsured motorists and those with violations, like an accident or a DUI on their record, or poor credit.
Types of Coverage
Some of Bristol West’s most popular coverage options are:
- Liability insurance: the minimum insurance legally required for every driver in most states, this type of coverage helps pay for the cost of damages and injuries if you are at fault in an accident, up to liability limits.
- Comprehensive insurance: this policy covers you against unforeseen events beyond your control that might damage your vehicle, such as theft, natural calamities or vandalism.
- Collision insurance: when your car collides with another vehicle or object, this coverage helps pay for the damages.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: if you suffer damages caused by another vehicle with an uninsured driver, this option ensures your expenses are covered.
- Rental reimbursement: Bristol West indicates it will reimburse up to $50 per day if you need to rent a vehicle because of covered damage suffered by your car.
- Towing and roadside assistance: this coverage pays for the sudden expenses associated with a vehicle breakdown, such as it needing to be towed to a mechanic.
- Medical payments: depending on your coverage, Bristol West will pay up to $10,000 in medical expenses if you are injured in a car accident.
Bristol West is known for its competitive pricing regardless of your driving history or credit score. As a bonus, the company also offers some surprising discounts that are usually available only from bigger insurance providers. Eligible customers can save hundreds of dollars annually with the following discounts.
- Homeowner Discount
- Continuous Insurance Discount
- Accident Forgiveness
- Multi-Policy Discount
- Multi-Car Discount
- Driving Course Discount
- Good Student Discount
- Safe Driver Discount
- Paperless Discount
- Safe Vehicle Discount
- Dynamite Deductible Program
Bristol West Ratings, Reviews, Customer Satisfaction and Complaints
|AM Best||A- (Excellent)|
Bristol West is unrated by leading consumer intelligence and data analytics company, JD Power, but its parent company Farmers Insurance ranked 12 out of the 17 providers included in the 2020 Auto Insurance Satisfaction Study.
The Better Business Bureau page of Bristol West Insurance lists 189 complaints closed in the last 12 months, and 658 complaints in the past three years. Combined with the one-and-a-half stars out of 5, Bristol West seems to have a less than average customer service rating. On the same lines, Bristol West scored 1.74 on NAIC’s consumer complaint index, where 1 is the average complaint ratio and lower figures correspond to fewer complaints. Keep in mind that high-risk insurers typically receive poorer reviews and lower customer satisfaction scores in general.
What it lacks in customer satisfaction, Bristol West makes up with impressive financial strength. AM Best gives the company an excellent rating of A- (Excellent), so policyholders can expect to have their claims paid on time.
Reasons why Bristol West is a great option
Being perceived as a high-risk driver puts you at a disadvantage when buying auto insurance. Most companies consider such drivers too expensive to insure, either turning them down or charging exorbitant premiums to cover against the financial risk. This is where a provider like Bristol West is a helpful alternative.
Although the company doesn’t claim to have the cheapest rates, the rates are typically significantly lower than other big-name insurers for those with an accident, DUI or other violations in their history. It also offers the added service of filing an SR-22 form on your behalf to get you driving again after a DUI charge.
Bristol West has local agents in all available states to make customer service more personalized. On its website, you can get quotes, view your insurance ID card, report and view claims, find an agent or broker and make payments. Several payment options can be used, from debit and credit cards, to direct deposit and money transfer. However, if you are not a high-risk motorist, you may be able to find better rates elsewhere. Here are the primary advantages and drawbacks of this provider to consider:
|Competitive rates for high-risk drivers
SR-22 filing option
Several online tools and payment options
Wide range of discounts
|Higher than the average number of complaints
Might not be the best choice for good drivers with a clean record
Additional Policies Offered by Bristol West
Besides the regular coverage options discussed above, Bristol West also gives policyholders the choice of optional add-ons, such as:
- Permissive user coverage: gives the same protection as you have to an authorized driver of your vehicle.
- Rental car coverage: provides the same protection to a rental vehicle in the absence of your personal car.
- Rideshare coverage: protects you and your vehicle if you are a rideshare driver, like Uber or Lyft.
- GAP insurance: helps pay the outstanding loan amount for a totaled or stolen vehicle.
- Trailer physical damage coverage: up to $500 worth of liability coverage for your trailer attached to an insured car.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best auto insurance company?
Since insurance needs vary from one person to another, picking the best depends entirely on your circumstances and coverage needs. There are several auto insurance companies that are worth getting quotes from, but rates will differ depending upon location, type of car, credit score, driving record and more.
How can I save on insurance as a high-risk driver?
Being declined insurance isn’t uncommon for those with a less than perfect driving record, and a high premium is also fairly common after a violation of some kind. However, there are insurance companies that specialize in coverage options for high-risk drivers, and the best way to lower the premium is to take advantage of discounts and practice safe driving.
Where can I get an SR-22 form?
After a major traffic violation, such as a DUI, you are required to prove that you have sufficient insurance coverage to be able to drive again. This certification, called SR-22, is usually offered by auto insurance companies. If your existing insurer doesn’t have the provision, you need to get one from a company that does.