How does a bad driving record affect car insurance?

Insurance companies charge drivers with problems on their record higher rates to compensate for the extra risk the insurer takes on. You will pay more for a certain period of time, and then rates will go down as long as nothing new has appeared on your record.

“How long an event stays on your driving record for insurance purposes varies by state, but is commonly three years,” Brasier says.

He adds that the negative information can linger for longer in certain states. In addition, offenses may remain on your record for longer than three years if the offense was particularly severe, such as a DUI. In such cases, the offense may remain on your driving record for up to five or even 10 years.

How much is car insurance for a bad driving record? crunched the numbers and found that drivers with bad records pay an average of $2,844 in premiums annually. That is more than double the general average of $1,150 a year.

Cheap car insurance with bad driving record

If you have a bad driving record and are looking for affordable car insurance, finding the right company can save you a lot of money.

For example, Auto-Owners insurance has lower than average rates for those with a bad driving record.'s research indicates that for drivers who have any one of the following three typical offenses -- a ticket for distracted driving, driving without a license or permit, and driving without insurance -- the average annual premium Auto-Owners charges is $1,048 a year, or just $87 a month. That’s about half the average insurance cost of $2,844 a year for drivers with a bad record.

However, don't assume Auto-Owners is automatically the right choice for you. For example, if you have a careless driving offense on your record, you'll do better with Nationwide, which charges an average of $1,348 for drivers with this offense, compared to Auto-Owners' slightly higher rate of $1,391.

Take a look at the table below to compare average rates from top insurance companies for drivers with a distracted driving violation or with a careless driving conviction on their record.

Cheapest Auto Insurance for Bad Drivers
CompanyRate with a Distracted Driving TicketRate with a Careless Driving Ticket
American Family$1,635$1,740
State Farm$2,036$2,089

As you can see, some companies treat these offenses the same, while others charge different rates.

The point is that it almost always pays to shop around and compare quotes before settling on an insurer. That's especially true if your driving record is less than pristine.

What is considered a bad driving record?

A bad driving record is one where you have had a lot of accidents, many serious traffic violations, or both. Insurance companies frown on a bad driving record because it indicates that you are a higher risk to insure, and may potentially cost the insurer more money in claims.

So, if you have a history of collisions, traffic violations, or DUI/DWI convictions, it is likely that insurers will view you as having a “bad driving record.”

How to get car insurance with a bad driving record

Nearly every state requires you to carry at least a minimum level of auto insurance. But if your driving record is poor, you might have trouble securing a policy through normal channels.

Each insurance company has its own formula that helps it determine which types of drivers qualify for coverage, and at which rates. So, if you are rejected by one insurer, try your luck with others.

However, if you cannot secure a traditional auto insurance policy because of your driving record, you might need to get coverage through an insurance company that specializes in insuring "high-risk" drivers.

As a last resort, you may have to go through a state-assigned risk pool. Insurance companies that participate in these risk pools must offer coverage to drivers. These insurers may not offer the same comprehensive coverage as you would get with a high-risk insurer.

Car insurance discounts for bad driving records

The good news is that even if you have a bad driving record, you can turn things around. With good driving behaviors and enough time, you will once again qualify for the best rates.

Drivers who avoid accidents, tickets, and other moving violations can qualify for better rates and perks like good-driver discounts. In some cases, taking a defensive driving course might help get you a discount on rates.

And drivers with bad records can still qualify for these discounts regardless of their driving history.

  • Bundling discounts
  • Discounts for safety features and anti-theft devices
  • Paperless billing or paying in full
  • Good student
  • Loyalty discounts

Cheapest states for car insurance with a bad driving record

Where you live also makes a big difference in terms of how much you pay for auto insurance when you have a bad driving record.

For example, Idaho, Maine, and New Hampshire consistently offer the lowest rates to drivers who have offenses on their records such as driving without insurance, driving without a license or permit, and getting a ticket for distracted driving.

The 10 cheapest states for those with a bad driving record and their annual average premiums are:

Cheapest States for Drivers with Bad Driving Record
StateAverage Annual PremiumAverage Monthly Premium
New Hampshire$1,389$116
North Dakota$1,738$145

Expensive states for car insurance with a bad driving record

On the other hand, some states are particularly expensive for those with bad driving records.

The 10 most expensive states for those with a bad driving record and their annual average premiums are:

Expensive States for Drivers with Bad Driving Record
StateAverage Annual PremiumAverage Monthly Premium
New Jersey$3,198$267

It’s worth noting that most of the states on this list have higher car insurance rates in general.

What to do if you have a bad driving record

If you have a bad driving record, you might need to work on your skills behind the wheel. There are several things you can do to get better insurance rates, including:

Take a defensive driving course. Enrolling in this type of course can help you brush up on safe driving techniques and habits.

Buy a car with safety features. Many of today’s cars have safety features – such as automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning -- that can help you avoid accidents.

Use a monitoring device. Once you feel confident in your ability to drive more safely, ask your insurer if it offers discounts to drivers who agree to have their driving monitored. Many insurers give discounts to drivers when monitoring confirms that they drive safely.

If your bad driving record is making coverage more expensive, look for ways to save.

Bundle your auto and home or renter policy with the same insurance carrier,” Brasier says. “Nationwide and other carriers typically offer price discounts when multiple policies are placed with the same company.”

Another way to save is to pay your policy in full or to set up recurring payments and see if that gets you a price break. For example, in some states, Nationwide offers a 10% discount for paying in full and a 5% discount for setting up recurring payments.

Auto insurance FAQs

Is car insurance more expensive for bad drivers?

Yes, policyholders with a spotty driving record will almost always pay more for auto insurance. In fact, they can plan on being charged more than double the rate of safer drivers.

What is the cheapest insurance for drivers with accidents on their record?

Auto insurance companies such as Auto-Owners and Nationwide received high marks for offering low insurance rates to drivers with bad records.

However, if you have blemishes on your driving record, the best way to get better rates is by getting quotes from multiple insurance companies.

Is there an auto insurance company that doesn't check driving records?

There’s really no such thing as an auto insurance company that doesn’t check your driving record.

Auto insurers use driving records to help them gauge the risk of insuring a driver. They then use that information to determine rates. So, it is exceedingly unlikely that you will ever find an auto insurer that doesn’t check driving records.