How to Get Car Insurance with a Bad Driving Record

Your driving record is one of the many things that car insurance companies consider when underwriting your policy. A good record suggests that you know what you’re doing and, as a result, will drive safely and avoid any serious accidents. A bad driving record, on the other hand, suggests the opposite. It increases your risk of being involved in an accident and making a claim, which in turn means you can expect to pay much more.

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But how much more, and are there are ways to get cheap insurance quotes as a high-risk driver?

What is a High-Risk Driver?

​As the name suggests, a high-risk driver is simply someone who poses a greater threat behind the wheel. Insurance companies base their rates on probability, which in turn is based on a vast well of data gathered from decades of driving habits.

It doesn’t matter how many times you insist that your DUI was a one-off or that your speeding ticket was a mistake. Insurers know that, statistically, once you have accidents and traffic violations on your record, you are more likely to claim and cost them money. 

There are generally four different types of driver as viewed through the eyes of an insurer:

  • Preferred-risk: Drivers in this category are low-risk. They are over the age of 25, have a clean driving record, and a strong credit history. In most cases, they may also live in an area with very few car accidents and a low crime rate, making them the ideal customer for the majority of car insurance companies. 
  • Standard-risk: The bulk of drivers will fall into this category. They probably have a few tickets and may not have the best credit score or driving record. As a result, they will be offered average rates, much less than those offered to high-risk drivers but less than those reserved for drivers in the “preferred-risk” category.
  • Nonstandard-risk: The highest premiums of all are reserved for drivers in this category. They may have just only received their driver’s license or have a number of tickets, violations, and insurance claims on their record.
  • Uninsurable: Drivers in this category are considered to be so high risk that insurance companies won’t go anywhere near them. If you have been turned away by many insurance companies because your record is so bad, your only option is to go through your state’s “assigned risk” pool of insurers. As a result, you will likely pay more than twice what other high-risk drivers are being charged.

How Much do Insurance Costs Increase By?

Car insurance rates will increase significantly if you have a bad record. There’s no getting away from that. However, all infractions don’t carry the same weight. 

A DUI conviction, for instance, could result in between 40% and 50% higher premiums. You may also face a multitude of legal issues, including fines, suspensions, and even jail time or community service orders. An at-fault accident could result in a similar increase, although it’s usually less and it can be negated by accident forgiveness programs.

A speeding ticket, on the other hand, will likely only increase your premiums by between 10% and 20%.

Running a stop sign will have the same effect, while reckless driving and racing will fall somewhere between the two extremes, adding between 20% and 30% to your premiums.

It all depends on which insurance carrier you go with, what insurance options you purchase, and how you fair with regards to the other key data parameters.

What Else do Auto Insurance Companies Look at? 

In addition to your driving record and whether you have any at-fault accidents or not, insurance underwriters will also consider a multitude of other factors. Some of these can be influenced, others cannot, but all are crucial to determining your risk factor and seeing your rates:

  • Coverage Options: The extent of cover provided by your insurance policy will have a major impact on the price. Whether you choose the most basic state required cover or opt for full cover (including collision coverage and comprehensive coverage) could determine whether you pay a few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars.
  • Demographic: Men are more likely to be involved in a car accident than women and teenagers are more likely to claim than any other age group. As a young male driver, you are a huge liability, and if you have a DWI or other violation, you’ll be paying through the nose for high-risk insurance.
  • Discounts: Car insurance discounts are a great way to reduce those auto insurance quotes. They include everything from safety features (airbags, anti-lock brakes) and anti-theft devices, to good student discounts, safe driver discounts, and more.
  • Credit Score: Underwriters prefer drivers with a strong credit history as research suggests they will make fewer claims and cost the company less money. Simply boosting your credit score by a couple of hundred points could net you some big savings on your auto insurance rates.
  • Married vs Single: Married drivers tend to be much safer and more responsible than their single counterparts, allowing you to save money on your car insurance policy as soon as you tie the knot.
  • Homeowners vs Renters: Owning a home is a big financial commitment and one that requires you to take a big step forward. As a result, it should come as no surprise that homeowners are considered less of a risk and can save more on their car insurance as a result.

Cheap Car Insurance Providers for Bad Driving Records

GEICO has one of the consistently lowest rates across the United States and offers a wealth of insurance coverage as well. We have praised this company countless times in the past for this very reason. However, while GEICO is great for good drivers and even those with a few minor moving violations, once you start adding car accidents, DUIs, and other serious issues to your record, it falls behind.

If you have a bad driving record, we still recommend getting some quotes from GEICO, but we also recommend taking a look at Amica, Allstate, and Progressive, the latter of which tends to have the lowest insurance premiums for “bad drivers”.

Bottom Line: Getting Affordable High-Risk Auto Insurance

Having a few blemishes on your driving record doesn’t mean you can’t get cheap auto insurance. It does mean that your options are few and far between and that you can’t get the sort of low rates reserved for those with the best driving histories. However, with a little patience and a lot of research, you can find suitable cover at an affordable price.

We recommend getting some free auto insurance quotes online and talking with an independent insurance agent. You should also work on fixing your driving record as soon as possible. The sooner you start paying more attention to how fast you go, where you park, and when you drive, the sooner you can reap the rewards that a clean driving record brings.