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High-risk auto insurance: Your questions answered

Added November 25, 2022

What is high-risk auto insurance?

High-risk auto insurance—often called nonstandard auto insurance—covers drivers who insurance companies determine have a higher risk of filing a claim, being an inconsistent payer, or being involved in an accident. While high-risk auto insurance policies are typically more expensive, drivers can improve their records and even remove their high-risk designation over time.

What is a high-risk driver?

Insurance companies classify high-risk drivers as carrying a greater-than-average risk of filing a claim, causing an accident, committing a traffic violation while driving, or being less likely to pay their premiums. While there are no set rules for who’s considered high-risk, you could be deemed high-risk based on your:

Driving record

If you have a major violation—such as a DUI or DWI—on your record, you’ll likely be considered a high-risk driver. The same may be true if you have several minor traffic violations, like speeding tickets.


Statistically, young drivers and others who haven’t held a driver’s license for very long are more likely to be involved in accidents than more experienced drivers. The risk gradually decreases over time—along with rates—but begins increasing again as drivers reach their 60s or 70s because of their risk of vision issues and slower reaction times.

History of auto insurance lapses

Even with a clean driving record, allowing your auto insurance to lapse can lead insurance providers to consider you a high risk to insure. Whether your insurance lapse was accidental or the result of a tough financial choice, there’s good news—if you act quickly and contact your insurance provider, you could face minimal penalties.

Two hands on a steering wheel Two hands on a steering wheel

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How long are you considered a high-risk driver?

There’s no universal timetable for being a high-risk driver—each driver carries their own unique designation based on their record and other factors. For example, if you have multiple serious violations, you’ll likely be considered a high-risk driver for a longer period than someone with minor violations.

Violations like speeding tickets add points to your driving record. These points are typically removed from your record after a certain amount of time. If you maintain a clean driving record over time, points will eventually fall off your record and you’ll no longer require high-risk auto insurance. 

Why would you need high-risk auto insurance?

There are many reasons you could require high-risk auto insurance, including:

  • DUI conviction: If you get convicted of a major violation—such as a DUI—it'll likely affect your insurance rate for at least three years.
  • Driving with a suspended license: A violation such as a conviction for driving with a suspended license will likely impact your insurance rates for at least three years.
  • Hit-and-run conviction: If you’re convicted of a hit-and-run, you can expect the violation to potentially affect your insurance rate for at least three years.
  • At-fault accidents: When you’re at fault for an accident—meaning your auto insurance provider is responsible for reimbursing drivers for resulting injuries or property damage—you increase your risk as a driver. It’s important to note that you’re usually considered to be at fault if you file a claim for a single-car collision.
  • Multiple speeding tickets: Every speeding ticket results in points on your driving record, and every point increases the likelihood of being considered a high-risk driver. Depending on the state you live in, you may have the option to take a defensive driving course to avoid having points from your ticket added to your record.
  • Bad credit history: When you apply for coverage, most insurers will review your credit history to determine your reliability to make payments and avoid a lapse in your insurance coverage. Bad credit may result in the need for high-risk auto insurance.
  • Insurance coverage history: Having a lapse in your auto insurance will increase your risk as a driver. Driving without insurance is a serious violation that can not only damage your driving record, but could lead to costly fines, having your car impounded, or even potentially losing your license.

How much does high-risk auto insurance cost?

Rates for high-risk auto insurance will vary based on your unique circumstances. The best course of action to determine the cost is to request a free online quote or speak to an agent near you.

Car insurance costs for drivers with a DUI

Having a DUI conviction on your driving record will almost certainly cause your auto insurance rates to increase. If you stay with your current provider, they’ll likely raise your rates based on your increased risk. If your provider doesn’t offer high-risk auto insurance, they may drop you, so you’ll need to find a provider who does. Here’s what else you need to know about your car insurance after a DUI.

Car insurance costs for drivers with at-fault accidents

If you’re at fault in an accident, your rates will increase—but the size of the increase depends on several factors. Just like each state sets its own minimum required auto insurance limits, the amount your rates go up will vary depending on your state and carrier’s filed rates. Other factors include:

  • The severity of the accident
  • Your claims history
  • Your driving record

Where can you find high-risk auto insurance?

While not all insurance providers offer high-risk or nonstandard auto insurance, we offer coverage to high-risk drivers, including DUI insurance and SR22 insurance.

Get an auto insurance quote. Start saving on your car insurance today.

How can you lower your high-risk auto insurance costs?

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce coverage costs and eventually lose your high-risk designation completely:

Improve your credit score

In most states, your credit score is related to your risk as a customer—statistically, drivers with lower credit scores are less likely to pay their premiums. Even if your low credit score is the result of missed payments or financial struggles several years back, it can still contribute to higher car insurance rates.

That’s why rebuilding a bad credit score over time can help lower your rates. You can start improving your credit score a number of ways, including:

  • Making on-time payments
  • Checking your credit report for errors
  • Paying down credit card debt

Maintain good driving habits

Since your high-risk status is largely based on your driving record, one of the most important steps for lowering your insurance costs is driving safely and avoiding accidents, helping you remove points from your driving record along the way.

Keep consistent auto insurance

Many insurance companies regard drivers without six months of continuous coverage to be high-risk drivers. If you have a registered vehicle, you should always have car insurance.

Even if you don’t own a vehicle but need to drive occasionally, consider a non-owner insurance policy, which can help protect you if you’re found to be at fault in an accident while driving a vehicle you don’t own.

Use public transportation

If you have access to modes of public transportation such as a bus or train, use them for trips like your daily commute. Especially in higher-traffic areas, this can help you avoid common areas and times of day with heightened risks of accidents and traffic violations.

Shop around and compare prices

Just like you would for any major purchase, make sure you do your research and continuously evaluate the cost of your policy.

As a high-risk driver, it’s important to understand everything that impacts your car insurance and how you can work toward reducing the cost of your high-risk auto insurance policy.

If you’re a driver searching for the best high-risk auto insurance, find the right plan for you today by receiving a free quote or speaking with your local agent.

High-risk auto insurance FAQs

  • What if I can’t find high-risk auto insurance?

    An insurance company may deny coverage for several reasons—they may not offer a high-risk policy, or they have strict guidelines as to what they consider and how high of a risk they’re willing to cover. Not all insurance companies have the same guidelines, so make sure to contact several to find someone who’ll insure you. You can call Dairyland at 855-931-2484 now to see what we can offer you.

  • How long am I considered a high-risk driver?

    The designation is dependent on your driving record and your history of making payments. If you continue to get tickets, cause accidents, and/or miss making your payments, it’ll be difficult to shed your high-risk designation. However, if you have a squeaky-clean record moving forward and make your payments on time, you’ll probably be able to move out of the high-risk driver designation over time. In the meantime, look for ways to get cheaper car insurance.

  • Are there other ways to improve my driving record?

    Yes. One easy way to improve your driving record is to take a defensive driving course. Taking the course may even get you a discount on your policy.

Related links:

As you're researching high-risk auto insurance offerings, beware of providers offering "no-deposit car insurance." 

Some high-risk drivers consider driving without insurance rather than paying increased rates. But that decision comes with its own set of risks, including the likelihood of prolonging a driver’s high-risk designation. 

The general information in this blog is for informational or entertainment purposes only. View our blog disclaimer.

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