High-risk auto insurance: Your questions answered

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November 25, 2022

What is high-risk auto insurance?

High-risk auto insurance—often called nonstandard auto insurance—covers drivers who have a higher risk of filing a claim, paying inconsistently, or being involved in an accident. While insurance policies or high-risk drivers 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

While there are no set rules for who’s considered high-risk, you could be deemed high-risk based on the following factors:

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 car insurance lapses

Even with a clean driving record, allowing your auto insurance to lapse can lead an insurance company 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 only minimal penalties.

Drive protected—even if you’re high-risk.

How long are you considered a high-risk driver?

There’s no universal timetable for being designated as a high-risk driver—each driver is considered individually based on their driving record and other factors. For example, if you have multiple serious traffic violations, such as excessive speeding or driving without a license, you’ll likely be considered a high-risk driver for a longer period than someone with minor violations.

For example, violations like speeding tickets add points to your driving record. These points are typically removed from your driving record after a certain amount of time. If you maintain a clean 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 be considered higher-risk with an auto insurance provider, 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 car insurance provider is responsible for reimbursing drivers for injuries or property damage as a result of an accident you caused—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 added to your record after getting a ticket.

  • Bad credit history: When you apply for coverage, most insurers will review your credit history to determine how reliably you make payments and avoid lapses 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

    • Potentially losing your license

How much does high-risk auto insurance cost?

Rates for 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 to help get the most affordable high-risk auto insurance policy.

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 insurance company, 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

Even if your car insurance has lapsed, we can help.

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.

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 because 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 consider 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 when you can. Especially in higher-traffic areas, this can help you avoid common situations 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, ask questions, and repeatedly 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.

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

*Data accuracy is subject to this article's publication date.

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