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I love paying more for car insurance — said no one ever. But the reality is, if you're considered a high-risk driver, then you'll need to go outside of a standard auto insurance policy and hop on what's known as a high-risk insurance policy.

These policies are for drivers who are deemed, for one reason or another, as bearing higher risk than your average driver. In turn, you're looking at fewer options and pricier insurance rates. Sounds like you're being punished? Maybe a little. But that doesn't mean that there are decent options out there.

Let's take a look at options for high-risk car insurance, how to find affordable car insurance for high-risk drivers, and how to shop for a policy:

Who needs a high-risk insurance policy?

As mentioned before, high-risk car insurance is for drivers who are considered riskier to an insurer than your average driver. Maybe you've had some blemishes on your driving record, or demographically, are part of a group that's known to get into an accident where you're filing a greater number of claims.

So what exactly is a high-risk driver. Here are some groups of drivers that are typically deemed as high-risk drivers, and potentially need to hop on a high-risk insurance policy:

Inexperienced drivers: While no fault of your own, if you don't have a lot of experience on the road, you might be considered a high-risk driver by default. This is typically if you've been driving for fewer than eight to 10 years. In this case, the insurer might levy a inexperience surcharge. The surcharge is highest for those who are newly licensed and gradually shrinks with each year that you drive.

Young drivers: While culture and commerce are designed for the young, expect to feel penalized with the cost of car insurance, as it often comes with a heftier price tag. Car insurance for teens is among the very highest because, statistically, young people have by far the most accidents. (Even if you're a safe driver, just because of your age you might be considered a high-risk driver.) Note that only part of the high rate is due to your inexperience.

Every insurance company “buckets” age groups differently, but, unfortunately, if you’re under age 25 you can expect to be dumped into the most expensive bucket. Once you hit 26 and you have a clean driving record, you can expect your car insurance rate to decrease.

Drivers with black marks on their record: Let's say your driving record is not-so-stellar. A single ticket or minor fender bender might not make you high-risk, but multiple tickets or a serious infraction – reckless driving or a DUI – certainly will. So will multiple at-fault claims. These could require you to get an SR-22, a form from the insurance company that verifies you have SR-22 insurance, which is a state-mandated certificate that indicates you need to be financially responsible to carry the state's minimum insurance coverage requirements.

Drivers not currently insured: Have a license but no insurance? If so, insurance companies assume you’ve been driving uninsured (a big no-no) and are therefore riskier.

Drivers with bad credit: Drivers with poor credit-based insurance scores tend to file more frequent claims. An Insurance.com rate analysis found they are charged a rate that is an average of 71% more than it is for drivers with good credit.

What is the best insurance company for high-risk drivers?

Life might not always feel fair in many ways. And if you are a high-risk driver, the truth is you won't be able to buy the same policies at the same rates as drivers who fall into the standard and preferred categories.

Those drivers, who have no or few violations, minimal claims, good credit and continuous insurance history, get better rates because they pose less risk. Preferred drivers—these are drivers who are older, married and own homes, pay the least and get the most discounts.

Here's the good news: As a high-risk driver, you may be able to buy a standard policy at a higher rate from a traditional private insurance company. Or you may buy what's known as a nonstandard policy, where there are restrictions on, say, who can drive the car or how much coverage you can buy.

The nonstandard market represents about one-fifth of all private auto insurance sold. It draws both small, niche companies, and the big boys, like Progressive and Nationwide, which have divisions selling nonstandard policies.

“Not all insurers treat high-risk drivers the same way,” says Penny Gusner, a senior staff insurance writer for Forbes Advisor. “Some companies will assess much harsher rate penalties than others on high-risk customers, which means it's always wise to compare car insurance quotes before buying a high-risk policy.”

Let's take a look at some of our top-rated insurance companies that sell high-risk auto insurance policies, and what we like about them:

Best high-risk car insurance for DUI/DWI: State Farm

Get a DUI and expect your car insurance rate to see a significant jump. However, State Farm's average annual premium for drivers with a DUI mark on their driving record is $1,633. Sure, that's no chump change, but it's actually less than half of what some of State Farm's competitors charge.

What's more, you can stack the discounts to bump down your costs. Case in point: have a multi-car policy with State Farm, and you can snag a 20% discount. Enroll in a defensive driving course, and score up to 15% on your insurance rates. Plus, sign up for the State Farm Drive Safe & Save program, and you can scoop up a discount of up to 30%. Not too shabby.

Best high-risk car insurance for bad credit: Geico

When it comes to the best and cheapest high-risk car insurance for bad credit, look no further than the insurer with the cute lizard as a mascot. No matter where you live, you can expect a low credit score to spike your car insurance rates. Geico's annual premium is the cheapest for those with not-so-stellar credit - $2,094.

Plus, we can save through Geico if you're accident-free, which can decrease your rates by 22%. Insure two or more cars with them, and you can snag an extra 25% discount.

Best high-risk car insurance for young drivers: Liberty Mutual

If you're young and aren't quite a veteran of the fierce roads, you can expect car insurance to cost a pretty dime. But ring Liberty Mutual's bell, and find relatively cheap car insurance for high-risk drivers. Liberty Mutual's average annual premium for teens is $2,137 (that's for full coverage with 100/300/100 liability and a $500 comprehensive and collision deductible).

Further, if you're a good student and enroll in Liberty Mutual's RightTrack program, you can snag a discount of up to 30%.

Best high-risk car insurance for drivers with at-fault accidents: The General

So you've had a few at-fault accidents under your belt and your driving record isn't looking so great. If so, consider The General for a car insurance policy. That's because The General has a reputation for long offering coverage to drivers with driving records with blemishes. The neat part is that if you drive cautiously and maintain a clean driving record, you can rack up points with The General.

What is the cheapest car insurance for high-risk drivers?

The bad news: You'll pay more for coverage as a high-risk driver. For instance, an Insurance.com rate analysis found that, on average, drivers will pay:

  • 79% more after a first drunken driving conviction
  • 71% more if they have poor credit and live in a state that allows credit to be considered
  • 43% more for two speeding tickets
  • 32% more after an at-fault accident that injures another motorist.

The good news: You'll probably scoop up on more savings by comparing car insurance rates than a standard or preferred driver would. That's because, well, you're starting from a much higher rate, to begin with. Remember: this is relative, and your premium will most likely be higher than that of an average driver.

For example, an insurance.com analysis found that among five of the country’s largest auto insurers a DUI conviction increased a driver’s rate, on average, between 33% and 125%.

Some more good news: We have solutions for your DUI insurance needs. That's because every company calculates rates differently and we can show you side-by-side quotes so you get an affordable solution. The differences are usually hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of dollars.

Cheapest high-risk car insurance for DUI: State Farm

Among insurers we looked at, State Farm offered the cheapest high-risk car insurance for those with DUIs. With an average annual premium of $1,633, that's a 38% increase from State Farm's insurance premium for standard drivers. With other insurers, you might see up to a 125% spike in rates for high-risk drivers. What's more, it's less than half the cost of the priciest insurer, which was Nationwide at $3,563.

Cheapest high-risk car insurance for bad credit: Geico

When it comes to cost, Geico has the lowest rates for high-risk car insurance for those with poor credit. The average annual premium was $2,094, and the next lowest premium was Victoria, which came in a close second at $2,193. However, hop on a high-risk insurance policy from Farmers, and the average annual premium is a whopping $3,039.

Cheapest high-risk car insurance for young drivers: Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual's average annual premium hovers at $2,137, which is one of the cheapest high-risk car insurance for young and inexperienced folks. Plus, if one is a good student and enrolled in the insurance carrier's RightTrack program, they can swoop up to a 30% discount.

Cheapest high-risk car insurance for drivers with at-fault accidents: Geico

It's no surprise that having a few at-fault accidents on your record can cause your insurance rates to soar. The cheapest high-risk car insurance for those with such marks on their records are Geico, Mid-Century, and Progressive.

Which insurer has the lowest rates hinges on how many accidents, the type of damage that was involved, the extent of damage, and the amount of the claim. For instance, if you were in two accidents that caused property damage of more than $200, then Progressive has a higher price tag than Farmers.

Average cost of high-risk car insurance in my state

Your stomping grounds can certainly impact what you're paying for premiums on a high-risk car insurance policy. Depending on the state you live in, high-risk car insurance could be more or less expensive.

Let's say you live in Maine. In that case, your annual rate for insurance could be only $758. But if you live in Michigan, you might be paying three times that amount — $2,297. If you live in New Jersey, your average annual premium for high-risk car insurance is $1,348.

StateAverage RateDUI Rate2 Speeding Ticket1 Bodily Injury AccidentBad Credit
New Hampshire$865$1,776$1,282$1,140$1,637
New Jersey$1,348$2,499$1,949$1,728$2,001
New Mexico$1,125$1,787$1,353$1,358$1,718
New York$1,336$2,144$1,613$1,699$2,414
North Carolina$836$3,206$1,491$1,161$1,025
North Dakota$1,365$2,143$2,063$1,553$1,864
Rhode Island$2,117$3,502$2,710$2,724$2,847
South Carolina$1,055$1,566$1,234$1,362$1,759
South Dakota$1,080$1,520$1,396$1,530$1,715
West Virginia$1,534$2,523$1,841$1,827$2,344

How to save money on high-risk auto insurance

While the cost of car insurance for high-risk drivers can be steep, there are plenty of ways you can enjoy a discount. When you're dealing with such high premiums, every tactic to save a buck matters. Here are a few ways anyone, including high-risk drivers, can save:

  • Shop around
  • Take a defensive driving course
  • Raise your deductible
  • Bundle your auto and homeowners insurance
  • Keep your credit score high
  • Have a multi-car policy
  • Ask about low-mileage discounts if you don’t drive much
  • Drive cautiously, so you build a clean driving record
  • Ask the insurance company for discounts specific to them

How to shop for high-risk car insurance

Comparison shop. Before you decide on a high-risk auto insurance policy, know which insurers offer high-risk auto insurance. There may also be insurers that offer standard insurance for drivers in high-risk categories. Get quotes based on different coverage amounts to see how much premiums will cost.

Look closely at rates. Get quotes for the same coverage amounts for each of the insurers. Otherwise, you'll be comparing apples to oranges. Also, it's important to remember that the rates for high-risk insurance can vary depending on why you're considered high risk.

Ask about discounts. Discounts can make the world go round and put dollars back into your bank account. By checking to see what discounts are available and what you might be eligible for, now and in the near future, it can bump down the cost of your auto insurance significantly.

Shop frequently. Rates might change among insurers. It's a good idea to comparison shop for high-risk car insurance every six months or so. If you've maintained a clean driving record or turned 26 years old, you might be off the "naughty list" and are eligible for less expensive insurance premiums.

Frequently asked questions

How much is high-risk car insurance?

High-risk car insurance can be significantly more than standard car insurance. While it is more expensive overall, the cost can vary widely and depends on the insurer, where you live, and why exactly you are deemed high risk. Rates can vary depending on whether you're young and inexperienced on the road, have poor credit, have exhibited bad driving behavior, or have DUIs or at-fault accidents on your driving record.

How can I lower my car insurance as a high-risk driver?

Absolutely. There are a number of ways you can bump down the cost of your car insurance when you are a high-risk driver. Your deductible can also impact your premium. The higher the deductible, the lower your premium, and vice versa.

Also, look for discounts an insurer might offer. This might be available if you are a loyal customer, go claim-free for a stint of time, for multi-vehicle insurance policies, and set up autopay. Some insurers also offer a discount if you sign up for a defensive driver course, or if you're a good student. When in doubt, do your homework and don't be afraid to ask to see what discounts are available. You can potentially snag significant savings!

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

Finding high-risk insurance can certainly be a tough task. You might find yourself knocking on many doors, with none of them opening. If one insurer declines you for auto insurance coverage, keep shopping with the best auto insurers. Compare quotes. By being informed and knowing what to expect in terms of rates and a policy, you can find a policy that works for you.

Whatever you do, try to stay out of the risk-assigned pool. Note that being classified as a "high-risk" driver, in most cases, does not mean your back is to the wall. You won't have to buy from your state's assigned risk pool.

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

The magic number is three years. The good news is that after three years, your less-than-great driving record and accidents will turn into dust in the wind, and many insurers will forget about it. So you'll want to keep a clean driving record for at least three years.

That being said, it depends on the particular insurance company and the state you live in. Some states and insurers will look back as far as five years. If an offense drops off your record, an insurer can use that to bump up your rates.

A lot of states use a points system. It works like so: you'll receive a score based on how severe an incident is. There are different points depending on the claims, accidents, and claims. But unlike many video games, where the more points you receive, the better, the more severe the offense, the greater the number of points.

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