As a result, it’s likely that you no longer qualify for the best auto insurance rates.
The good news is that there are insurance companies that specialize in insuring high-risk drivers. And while the rates might not compare with the best rates on the market, it’s better than not having insurance at all.
What is a high-risk driver?
Drivers fall into one of three groups, depending on their driving and credit histories: preferred, standard, and nonstandard.
High-risk drivers fall in the nonstandard group, which includes people who have one or more of the following on their record:
- Several traffic tickets or accidents
- Reckless driving
- A DUI or DWI
- Driving without a license
- Excessive speeding
- Illegal street racing
- Any traffic violation that results in a fatality
Additionally, you can be considered a high-risk driver if you have bad credit, are a young driver with no driving record, have allowed your previous auto insurance policy to lapse, or you drive an exotic car.
Note that insurance rates can differ, depending on which reason describes you.
The best high-risk auto insurance companies
Based on a cost study by Value Penguin, and complaint ratios (the ratio of an insurer’s market share of closed complaints compared to its market share of premiums), here are the top three insurance companies for high-risk drivers:
Not only does GEICO offer lower premiums for most high-risk activities, but it also has a low complaint ratio of 0.56 (the median national score is 1).
GEICO is currently the second-largest auto insurer in the nation with more than 15 million policyholders and 24 million covered vehicles. The insurer offers a slew of discounts to federal employees and military members, as well as members of more than 500 organizations and associations.
While Allstate is more expensive than GEICO for most high-risk activities, it’s slightly cheaper for DUI and accidents. That said, the insurer’s complaint ratio is slightly above average.
Allstate is the third-largest auto insurance company in the U.S. with 15 million policyholders. Its Drivewise program can help you get discounts on your auto insurance based on when, how much, and how well you drive.
And if you qualify for the Your Choice Auto Platinum package, you’ll get rebates up to 5% every six months that you go without an accident.
There’s currently no cost analysis on Dairyland, but the insurer does specialize in nonstandard auto insurance policies. It also has a below-average complaint ratio of 0.81.
Dairyland is based in Wisconsin and has been in the auto insurance business since 1916. The company has more than 1.1 million policyholders.
Tips for high-risk drivers
Depending on the reason for your nonstandard classification, don’t expect to qualify for lower insurance rates anytime soon. For example, a DUI can remain on your driving record for three to seven years. Other infractions, like speeding tickets and accidents, will remain on there for three years.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though. Dave Pierce, a warehouse foreman in Pittsburgh, managed to get a few tickets off his driving record by going to “traffic school.”
“I mostly had speeding issues, which were easily taken care of,” says Pierce. “The DUI took more time, though. I can’t remember how long it took to fall off my report. I just kept checking back with the insurance company every six months or so, and it finally did.”
Here are some quick tips on how to prepare yourself for lower rates as soon as you qualify:
- Take a defensive driving course: Some insurance companies will give you a discount if you take an approved defensive driving course. Check with your insurance company before you start searching.
- Get a new car: If your car is the reason for your nonstandard classification, trading it in for one with better safety features and a safety record can lower your rates immediately.
- Follow traffic laws: Since it takes three years for a traffic violation to fall off your driving record, you may qualify for lower rates as soon as your three years are up from the last ticket if you don’t add any more to the mix.
- Drive defensively: As with traffic violations, the same goes with accidents. Avoid getting into one for three years, and you’ll likely qualify for better rates.
As you compare the top insurance companies to find the best rates and work to improve your driver classification, you’ll stand to save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in the long run.