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Why is Car Insurance for High-Risk Drivers So Expensive? The Trouble Finding Carriers with an Affordable Rate

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Updated November 10th, 2020

Written by
Greg Fowler
Auto Expert
Reviewed by
Jennifer Benson
Licensed Agent

It seems like everywhere you look, there’s an advertisement for standard auto insurance.

As a driver with a combination of risk, you don’t qualify for those cheap rates. 

In fact, you’re probably paying at least 2-3 times more than friends and family that have a standard policy.

As you pay your bill each month, you most likely ask this same question over and over.

Why am I in this risk category?

Why can’t I pay below average rates?

Why You’re Considered a High-Risk Driver

Below are 8 reasons you will be considered “high-risk” when shopping for a new high-risk car insurance premium.

Category
You’re young and/or inexperienced driver
You’ve been involved in more than one accident
You’ve have multiple driving infractions on your record
You’ve been convicted of a DUI
Driving without a license
Any traffic violation that results in a fatality
Reckless driving
Excessive speeding

Why is adequate coverage so expensive?

The reason is a lot less complicated than you realize.

Despite all the risk factors determining your rate, the reason you’re paying more is actually quite simple.

High-risk drivers pose a bigger risk for auto insurance companies.

Cost of a premium before and after a DUI from Titan, The General, Safe Auto, Direct Auto and Acceptance. Illustrated above are companies specializing in policy rates for drivers with accidents or serious driving infractions. Titan, The General, Safe Auto, and Acceptance offer quality coverage at a higher price. In this instance, the cost for drivers with DUI convictions is a monthly premium doubled in price. This will cost nearly $3,000 over a three year period. Drivers with poor credit history can be considered in a higher risk status too.

Insurers believe drivers carrying more risk are more likely to be involved in an accident resulting in a filed claim.

In other words, you are more likely to cost them money.

Why am I considered a high-risk driver?

There aren’t many people with perfect driving records.

A less than perfect driving record does not mean that you will pay sky-high premiums shopping for auto insurance quotes.

If your insurer has labeled you as such, it is likely due to one of the following factors.

You’re a young and/or inexperienced driver

If you’re a young or inexperienced driver, insurers will typically classify you as being high risk.

They consider you to be more prone to accidents due to your lack of experience.

Cost of a policy with parent alone, parent with teen on a policy, and teen only policy.

Illustrated above are auto insurance quotes for a 40-year-old driver at $1,328 per year. If the same driver adds a teen to their nonstandard policy, it will cost nearly $3,000 per year. If teenage drivers get their own nonstandard policy, the premium is over $4,000 per year.

Studies show that adolescent males (compared to females) lacking experience behind the wheel are more likely to drive above the speed limit.

If you just started driving or you’re under 21, that may very well be the reason why you’re paying a high premium.

Inexperienced drivers always pay more for car insurance premiums.

Generally, the “magic” years for experience is 5 years of driving before you may see a decrease in rates.

You’ve been involved in more than one accident

Every time you file a claim after an accident, you cost your insurer money.

If you get into more than one accident, there’s a good chance that you’ll pay higher premiums.

In many cases, you will pay higher premiums even when the accident isn’t your fault.

You’ve got multiple driving infractions on your record

If you racked up speeding tickets, insurers would view you as being risky to insure.

Below I have outlined typical driving infractions and their impact on your high-risk car insurance premium. 

Moving ViolationRate Impact
Speeding >10 MPHModerate
Speeding Low
Reckless DrivingSevere
Running a Red LightModerate / Severe
Failure to Yield / Stop Moderate / Severe
Improper PassingModerate
Illegal U-TurnLow / Moderate
Wrong WayModerate
Fleeing from PoliceSevere
Failure to Use Child RestraintModerate / Severe
DUI / DWISevere

If the police bust you for speeding or running a red light, your insurer, based on statistics, realizes those actions are likely to get into an accident.

It’s for that reason that they’ll consider you a high-risk driver and increase your auto insurance cost.

You’ve been convicted of a DUI

There are few guarantees in life, but you can be certain that you’ll be labeled a high-risk driver if you’ve been convicted of a DUI offense.

Below I have sampled 7 companies for a car insurance rate before and after a DUI. 

Company*Without DUI**With DUI***
Allstate$1,646$2,176
The Hartford$1,721$2,451
USAA$1,744$2,489
Farmers$1,876$2,539
Mercury$2,112$2,943
Nationwide$2,348$2,987
National Avg.$2,287$3,364

*Some insurers listed will cancel your policy if you get convicted of drunk driving.

**Quotes for a 30-year-old responsible driver with no driving offenses

***Quotes for a 30-year-old driver with a DUI on record and poor credit. The cost of a premium is 25%+ higher.

You will be required to obtain an SR-22 or FR-44 from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in some states. 

SR-22 is not coverage.

It is a certificate of financial responsibility document on file with your state proving you have a high-risk auto insurance policy that meets the minimum liability coverage. 

To learn more about an SR-22, click here.

The FR-44 is a financial responsibility requirement similar to an SR-22 but used in Florida and Virginia.

With an FR-44, your minimum requirements go up, such as:

  • Bodily injury liability
  • Property damage liability

Both documents come with an additional fee. Usually $25, but it will depend on the state.

The fee is charged at every renewal.

When you are no longer required to have it, reach out to your insurer, and have it removed.

How long will I be considered a high-risk driver?

Typically, it will be for five (5) years.

Every insurer handles coverage for high-risk drivers differently.

The amount of time varies by state and the car insurance company insuring you. 

Price of a policy for three years with a traffic violation. Three years is the amount of time you will have a higher car insurance rate. In this instance, the driver’s nonstandard policy went from $725 to nearly $1,500 per year. People are in a different risk pool for three years. After three years, the rates went back to a standard price.

If you have high-risk auto insurance due to your inexperience behind the wheel, you probably will be able to reduce it after a few years with a clean driving record.

If you have a DUI offense or multiple accidents on your record, you can count on paying a higher than standard car insurance for 5-7 years.

What can I do to reduce my rates?

Even as a high-risk driver, there are still ways to reduce your monthly premium.

You’ll still pay more than those with standard auto insurance, but you can definitely close the price gap.

One of the best things you can do to decrease your rates is to prove to your insurer you’re not the financial risk they thought you were.

By maintaining a clean driving record for an extended period of time, you’ll show them that you’ve put your reckless driving, multiple traffic violations past behind you.

How to Lower Your Premium

There are a few things you can do to lower your high-risk auto insurance premium. 

Realize when you raise your deductible or reduce the coverage, you are taking on more risk.

  • Maintain a clean record
  • Reduce coverage on older cars
  • Maintain good credit
  • Low mileage & other discounts
  • Compare coverage & price
  • Group discounts

Raising your deductible is a good way to lower your collision and comprehensive coverage cost.

Remember, you get additional savings with additional risk.

Check with your agent, financial institutions, or financial advisors before you raise your comprehensive or collision coverage deductible. 

Depending on your insurer, after a year or so with clean driving history, you may get quality for a safe-driver discount.

Be sure to ask your agent or carrier. 

The Benefits of Taking a Defensive Driver Course

Besides, you can save another 5 to 10% by taking a defensive driving class.

In the eyes of your insurance provider, a driver safety course will help you improve your skills as a driver.

Plus, you could learn safe driving habits, and it could put you in a lower risk insurance category after completing most defensive driving courses. 

You’ll be less prone to accidents and less likely to commit further driving infractions in the future.

Then get your driving privileges restored if you need to. 

If you’re a student, you may also qualify for student discount programs.

Of course, insurance companies aren’t going to give discounts to every student.

They offer car insurance discounts only to those that meet certain grade requirements.

If you’re at least a B student, you should call your insurer to see if you qualify for a special rate to lower your car insurance policy.

Even with a bad semester with poor grades, many insurers are going to use your overall GPA.

The Power of Switching Carriers and Shopping Around

You may be able to reduce your rate by switching providers to more affordable car insurance. 

Not all insurers offer the same competitive rates, but you would like to get average auto insurance coverage. 

In the table below, I queried for quotes for the same driver.

In each instance, I got a different quote each time, even from the same company. 

CompanyFirst QuoteSecond Quote
The Hartford$965$1,013
Allstate$989$963
Progressive$1,009$1,104
Farmers$892$1,003
USAA$914$996
Elephant$1,231$1,165
Travelers$1,468$1,562

It is best to compare as many car insurance quotes as possible if you are in the market, attempting to lower your rates.

Most companies will offer discounted rates to attract new customers.

When shopping for an average car insurance rate, be sure not to let your coverage lapse.

Once you do, the major insurance companies will consider you high risk. 

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m a bad driver; what’s the best way to lower my rate?

The best way to lower your premium is to maintain a clean driving record, don’t let your coverage lapse, and keep a good credit score.

You could raise your deductibles or lower coverage.

Bundling coverage and insuring multiple vehicles are other options.

Who has the cheapest coverage for bad drivers?

It will depend on the type of insurance and the number of traffic violations.

If you don’t need an SR-22, the best companies are Progressive and Allstate.

Insurers specializing in coverage for bad drivers are Bristol West, Safe Auto, The General, and Direct Auto.

How long will my bad driving record affect my premium?

It will depend on the number and type of driving violations.

For minor and major violations, an insurer is going to raise your premium for three years.

If you have multiple violations, an insurer may raise your premium for 5 years or more.

Why is my premium going up without a bad driving record?

In the majority of states, insurers are allowed to use your credit score to determine your premium.

If you apply for a loan, and your credit score decreases, an insurer may raise your premium. 

Final Thoughts

Whether you were convicted of a DUI offense, you’re young and inexperienced, lack insurance history, or you’ve been involved in an accident, you may be stuck with a higher nonstandard premium for a couple of years.

While the label “risky driver” has caused your high-risk auto insurance bill to reach an almost un-affordable level, it is certainly possible to reduce your monthly bill.

By making the right decisions and comparing rates, you’ll wind up paying less than you thought possible with the right insurer with better policy options and without the rate increase. 

Plus, you won’t have such a big out of the pocket expense. 

Sources

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners

Permanent General Assurance Corp.

Greg Fowler

Greg Fowler

Managing Member of AutoInsureSavings LLC, Greg has been in the insurance industry for 12 years and enjoys rebuilding vehicles. His goal is to help drivers save on anything related to automobiles. Travel and enjoying the outdoors are some of his hobbies. The best way to reach him is at his Twitter or Facebook Profile.

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