Key takeaways:

  • Accidents, speeding tickets or other serious traffic violations can result in you being classified as a high-risk or non-standard risk driver.
  • A high-risk driver with two speeding tickets pays, on average, 43% more for car insurance than a standard-risk driver.
  • State Farm, Progressive, Farmers, Allstate, Nationwide, The General, Liberty Mutual and Geico are some of the best insurance companies for high-risk drivers.
  • Shop around, look for discounts, improve your credit and drive safely to lower your insurance rates.

You may think you're pretty good behind the wheel. But if you rack up enough accidents, speeding tickets or even one serious infraction – such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs – you may end up classified as a “high-risk driver.”

If that happens, expect your insurance rates to jump with high-risk auto insurance. For example, drivers pay an average of 255% more for their auto policy if they have three DUIs on their record, according to an Insure.com rate analysis. That works out to $5,080 annually instead of $1,430.

Fortunately, there are ways to save. Some companies charge less to high-risk drivers than others. For example, State Farm offers the most affordable high-risk auto insurance for drivers after one DUI, according to our research.

As a high-risk driver, you may be able to buy a standard policy at a higher rate from a traditional insurance company, or you may buy what's known as a non-standard high-risk auto insurance policy, which may include restrictions on who can drive the car or how much coverage you can buy.

The non-standard market includes small, niche companies that are local and may only operate in your state. In addition, some major carriers, like Geico and Nationwide, have divisions selling non-standard coverage.

What is a high-risk driver?

Drivers generally fall into one of three categories, depending on their driving record and -- in most states -- things like their neighborhood, credit history or recent insurance claims.

  • Preferred-risk driver:These drivers are considered the lowest risk and can get auto insurance at the lowest price. They are over 25 years old, have a safe driving record and no tickets and pay all their bills on time. They probably also live in an area with low theft and vandalism rates.
  • Standard-risk driver:These drivers present an average risk and will receive average rates. They will have a limited number of tickets or accidents and at least an average credit record.
  • Nonstandard-risk driver:These drivers pose the most significant risk of filing a claim and are called high-risk drivers. They include young and inexperienced drivers or those with multiple tickets or accidents or a history of reckless driving or DUIs. As a result, they will pay the highest premiums.

And then there is a fourth category: Drivers who can't convince any insurance company to sell them a policy. This type of driver can still buy insurance through their state’s "assigned risk" pool. Still, they'll typically have to prove car insurance companies have repeatedly rejected them, and their premiums will be two to three times higher than the national average. Thanks to the growth of the non-standard insurance market, very few insured drivers —only 1% nationally— have to buy into the so-called shared market.

Which companies offer the best high-risk auto insurance?

To find the best insurance companies for high-risk drivers, Insure.com analyzed data from several sources, including reviewing:

  • Insurance company websites
  • J.D. Power insurance company ratings
  • Consumer complaint ratios from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners
  • Insure.com rate data

A list of some of the best high-risk auto insurance companies includes the following:

  • State Farm
  • Progressive
  • Farmers
  • Allstate
  • Nationwide
  • The General
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Geico

Best for high-risk drivers overall: State Farm

Being convicted of driving under the influence can jack up your insurance rates sky-high. State Farm can be a great choice for those seeking affordable auto insurance for high-risk drivers.

The average annual premium at State Farm for those with one DUI on their record is $1,633. While that is not cheap, it is less than half of what some other insurers charge.

In addition, State Farm offers discounts that can bring your costs even lower. For example, take a defensive driving course, and you can save up to 15% on premium costs. Insure two cars with State Farm, and you can save 20%.

Also, enrolling in the State Farm Drive Safe & Save program can net you a discount of up to 30%.

Best for bad driving record: The General

Drivers with a shaky driving record should consider The General for their auto insurance needs. Unlike other car insurance companies, the insurer notes that it has a long history of covering drivers with bad driving records. Over time, you can earn points with The General for continuing to drive cautiously and keeping a clean driving record.

In addition, The General gets top marks in the J.D. Powers Claims Satisfaction survey and has a low NAIC Complaint Ratio, indicating customers are satisfied with the insurer’s performance.

Best for inexperienced young drivers: Liberty Mutual

When you are just starting out, auto insurance can be expensive. However, Liberty Mutual's average annual premium of $2,137 for teens (based on full coverage with 100/300/100 liability and a $500 comprehensive and collision deductible) makes it one of the most affordable insurers for young drivers, according to an Insure.com study.

Liberty Mutual also offers discounts to good students, and those who enroll in the insurer’s RightTrack program can save up to 30%.

Best for drivers with bad credit: Geico

In most states, a poor credit score can cause your auto insurance rates to climb. Geico offers the best annual premium -- $2,094 – for those with poor credit, according to a Carinsurance.com survey.

There are more ways to save at Geico. Those who are accident-free can see their rates fall by 22% on most coverages. Insure more than one car with Geico, and you could save an additional 25%.

How much does high-risk auto insurance cost?

How much is high-risk auto insurance? You’ll pay more than you would if your driving record was clean. For instance, an Insure.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

But that doesn't mean you cannot still save money on automobile insurance for high-risk drivers. Comparing car insurance rates will probably save you more money than if you were a standard or preferred driver because as a higher-risk driver, you're starting from a much higher rate.

How much is high-risk car insurance in my state?

Depending on where you live, high-risk auto insurance might be a bit more – or less – costly. For example, if you live in Maine, you might only pay $758 annually for such coverage. By contrast, Michigan residents pay $2,297 -- three times as much.

StateAverage RateDUI Rate2 Speeding Ticket1 Bodily Injury AccidentBad Credit
Alaska$1,188$1,771$1,405$1,313$1,705
Alabama$1,217$2,029$1,533$1,482$2,184
Arkansas$1,277$2,087$1,535$1,475$1,823
Arizona$1,009$2,532$1,245$1,301$1,761
California$1,461$3,765$2,878$2,769$1,461
Colorado$1,095$1,660$1,457$1,363$1,784
Connecticut$1,597$2,592$2,026$1,979$2,351
DC$1,628$2,406$1,965$1,971$2,711
Delaware$1,538$3,113$2,051$2,479$2,532
Florida$1,463$2,739$2,107$2,036$2,616
Georgia$1,210$1,972$1,516$1,655$2,053
Hawaii$1,104$3,112$1,531$1,196$1,104
Iowa$939$1,345$1,247$1,255$1,294
Idaho$822$1,279$1,338$1,130$1,361
Illinois$990$1,570$1,230$1,278$1,652
Indiana$950$1,651$1,213$1,199$1,546
Kansas$1,141$1,816$1,559$1,486$1,783
Kentucky$1,177$2,176$1,514$1,436$2,228
Louisiana$1,645$2,488$1,902$2,064$2,719
Massachusetts$1,469$2,629$2,213$2,420$1,469
Maryland$1,260$1,411$1,606$1,425$2,022
Maine$758$1,386$1,011$982$1,233
Michigan$2,297$6,337$5,306$3,057$5,078
Minnesota$1,270$2,584$1,829$1,695$2,151
Missouri$1,039$1,550$1,580$1,228$3,593
Mississippi$1,218$1,913$1,499$1,385$1,667
Montana$1,321$2,249$1,724$1,597$2,079
North Carolina$836$3,206$1,491$1,161$1,025
North Dakota$1,365$2,143$2,063$1,553$1,864
Nebraska$1,035$1,759$1,346$1,211$1,666
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
Nevada$1,113$1,696$1,387$1,389$2,182
New York$1,336$2,144$1,613$1,699$2,414
Ohio$763$1,165$985$912$1,293
Oklahoma$1,405$2,461$2,542$1,821$3,236
Oregon$1,110$1,737$1,393$1,409$1,925
Pennsylvania$1,252$1,968$1,676$1,577$2,042
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
Tennessee$1,256$2,193$1,573$1,580$1,895
Texas$1,416$2,267$1,923$1,956$2,247
Utah$935$1,472$1,184$1,284$1,633
Virginia$849$1,415$1,203$1,053$1,452
Vermont$900$1,392$1,107$1,031$1,517
Washington$1,075$1,740$1,395$1,496$1,702
Wisconsin$863$1,417$1,164$1,171$1,342
West Virginia$1,534$2,523$1,841$1,827$2,344
Wyoming$1,237$1,945$1,498$1,501$1,878
National$1,215$2,146$1,673$1,571$1,986
  • Methodology

    Insure.com commissoned Quadrant Information Systems to field rates for 10 ZIP codes in each state for a male driver, age 40, with a policy including $100,000 in liability coverage per person injured, up to $300,000 per accident and $50,000 in property damage, with comprehensive and collision at a $500 deductible. The average rate is for a clean record; the other rates show how much the base rate increases for the infraction, on average. California, Hawaii and Massachusetts state auto insurance laws prohibit use of credit scores when underwriting policies.

Average cost of car insurance for drivers with bad credit

A bad credit score can cause your car insurance rates to soar. On average, drivers with bruised credit pay 71% more -- or about $1,000 annually -- for a full coverage policy than drivers, according to an Insure.com rate analysis. Even those with fair credit pay a rate that is 18% higher.

A handful of states -- including California, Hawaii and Massachusetts -- do not allow insurers to use credit information when setting rates.

Geico has the best car insurance for bad-credit drivers, at least if cheap high-risk auto insurance is your main goal. Here is a selection of rates that insurance companies charge to those with bad credit:

  • Geico: $2,094
  • Victoria: $2,193
  • Nationwide: $2,244
  • Progressive: $2.644
  • Allstate: $2,906
  • State Farm: $3,012
  • Farmers: $3,039

Average cost of car insurance for drivers with accidents

Accidents also can cause your car insurance rates to rise. However, some insurers are more forgiving than others when it comes to such crashes, and these are good options if you’re looking for car insurance for high-risk drivers.

Drivers involved in accidents typically will find the best rates three insurers:

  • Geico
  • Mid-Century
  • Progressive

However, these are not always your best choices. For example, if you are involved in two accidents that cause property damage of more than $2,000 in each case, Progressive becomes considerably more expensive than Farmers.

Average rates drivers pay after an accident are as follows:

  • At-fault property damage accident under $2,000: $1,796
  • At-fault property damage accident over $2,000: $1,880
  • At-fault bodily injury accident: $1,889
  • At-fault property damage accident over $2,000: $3,002

Average cost of car insurance for bad drivers

Bad driving behavior can cause your rates to spike. Take speeding, for example. Drivers with a lead foot can expect to pay the following annual premiums after getting a speeding ticket, according to an Insure.com study:

  • Geico: $1,449
  • State Farm: $1,807
  • Nationwide: $1,900
  • Progressive: $1,916
  • Farmers: $2,146
  • Allstate: $2,239

Which companies offer cheap high-risk auto insurance

If you have a spotty driving record, you are probably asking yourself, “How can I lower my car insurance risk as a high-risk driver?”

Finding the best insurance for high-risk drivers involves some comparison shopping. So, make sure you get several high-risk car insurance quotes. Not all insurers treat high-risk drivers the same way. Some companies 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.

For example, here are the rates you will pay at various insurance companies if you have a DUI on your record:

CompanyAverage RateDUI RateDollar IncreasePercent Increase
State Farm$1,186$1,633$44738%
Progressive$1,518$2,019$50133%
Farmers$1,520$2,228$70847%
Allstate$1,898$3,132$1,23465%
Gecio$1,016$2,966$1,950192%
Nationwide$1,586$3,563$1,977125%

Car insurance companies that only look back three years

The number of years an insurer looks back at your driving record varies. Some insurers may look back just three years; others will look back up to five years.

For example, at State Farm, a number of factors determine how far back the insurer looks into a driver's history, says Roszell Gadson, a media relations representative at State Farm.

"Generally speaking, those who remain insured and accident-free for three years will likely qualify for some type of accident-free savings with State Farm," he says.

In addition, some states may prevent car insurance companies from looking back more than three years. For example, in the state of Washington, the law deems it an "unfair practice for any insurer to consider traffic violations or accidents which occurred more than three years in the past" when accepting, rejecting, canceling or nonrenewing a policy in many situations.

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

High-risk car insurance costs can be steep. High-risk drivers almost always pay higher rates than drivers with a clean record. So, it is essential to look at any opportunities to lower your costs.

Anybody can use the following tips to lower their rates, including high-risk drivers:

  • Shop around
  • Take a defensive driving course
  • Raise your deductible
  • Bundle your auto and homeowners insurance
  • Keep your credit score high
  • Ask about low-mileage discounts if you don't drive much
  • Drive cautiously, so you build a clean driving record

How to get auto insurance for a high-risk driver

Companies that cater to high-risk drivers (in addition to those we've already listed) include:

  • Direct Auto Insurance, a subsidiary of Direct General Insurance Group
  • Titan Insurance, a subsidiary of Nationwide Insurance
  • Dairyland Insurance, a subsidiary of Sentry Insurance
  • Infinity Insurance, a subsidiary of Kemper Corporation
  • SafeAuto Insurance
  • GAINSCO Auto Insurance
  • Bristol West Insurance
  • Affirmative Insurance
  • Alliance United Insurance, a division of Kemper Corporation
  • United Automobile Insurance Company
  • Access Auto Insurance

In addition to comparing car insurance rates, here are three key things to note about buying a high-risk auto insurance policy:

There may be limits on who else can drive your car.Some companies that sell non-standard auto insurance will cover only specific drivers who are named in the policy. That is different from standard auto insurance, which stays with the car and covers other occasional drivers.

Your driving record may be reviewed more often.Insurance companies may not always look at the driving record of safe drivers every year. However, an insurer may check the record of a high-risk driver upon policy renewal time and hike rates if there are any moving violations.

You may not be insured for punitive damages.A non-standard policy also may not cover you if you're in a wreck and you're sued for punitive damages and lose.

High-risk driver FAQs:

How do I know if I am a high-risk driver?

When shopping for cheap car insurance, consider that the following factors may classify you as a high-risk driver and raise your rates:

A bad credit score:Although you can't be denied insurance altogether for a lousy credit score, in all but three states — California, Hawaii and Massachusetts — insurers are allowed to charge you more for your car insurance if you have a poor credit history.

A lapsed insurance policy:If you failed to pay your car insurance premium and had your policy canceled by another insurance company, other car insurance companies will likely find out and factor that into your premium. You'll also pay higher rates if you drove without insurance for a period of time — in some states, it has to be at least 30 days — during the previous 12 months.

Inexperienced or young driver:Inexperienced drivers are among the riskiest around. It's important to establish and maintain a good driving record if you want inexpensive insurance.

Your profession:People who drive great distances for their job — delivery drivers, for example — are considered high-risk drivers by many car insurance companies. If you drive for work and not just to work, you probably need a business auto policy, not a standard personal lines policy.

Your car:Certain high-powered cars, including some sports cars, can fuel higher auto insurance rates. These cars are expensive to repair and their drivers tend to make more claims. Check out Insure.com's list of the most and least expensive cars to insure to see how vehicle choice can impact your rates.

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

Finding cheap high-risk auto insurance can be challenging. If one company turns you down for auto insurance, keep shopping with the best auto insurers to compare quotes. Another may be willing to sell you a policy, and you want to stay out of the assigned-risk pool.

Being classified as a "high-risk driver" rarely forces you to buy from your state’s assigned-risk pool.

How long are you considered a high-risk driver?

Most car insurance companies will forget about your accidents and poor driving record if you maintain a clean driving record for at least three years. But this varies depending on the insurance company and the state. Some will look back as far as five years when assessing how risky a driver you are. If the offense has fallen off your driving record, your insurer should no longer be able to use it to increase your rates.

Many states use a point system that assigns a score according to the severity of an incident. Insurers use a different "insurance points" system that they associate with various traffic violations, accidents, and claims. The more severe the offense, the more points you receive.

You can ask your insurer how long it will take for your insurance points and the related surcharge (the increase in rates) to fall off so your rates can improve. In the meantime, driving carefully, avoiding accidents and paying your insurance bill on time should be your goals.