When you apply for car insurance, the insurance company completes what it calls a risk assessment to determine the likelihood that you will file claims down the line. Many factors play into assessing your liability quotient in an insurance company's eyes: your age, gender, credit score and driving history. Drivers with accidents or traffic violations on their records are often considered "high-risk clients," meaning they are more likely to file a claim and—horrors!—cost the insurance company money.
As a result, "high risk" translates to high premiums. Most of the time, insurance companies will charge more to drivers with any violations or accidents on their record, whether they're applying for a new policy or are a current policyholder. In fact, you may well have experienced a rate hike or lost coverage completely after you got a ticket or experienced an accident, even if wasn't your fault.
Luckily, though, some car insurance companies are willing to take a risk on people after they total a car or even receive a DUI. We recently evaluated all the insurance options out there for high-risk drivers to find the best coverage options. While compiling this data, we not only looked for companies that offered the best rates, but also insurance offerings that would be most willing to look past a driver's past and give them another chance. Based on our findings, we selected the following as the best insurance options out there for high-risk drivers.
Best High-Risk Car Insurance Companies:
- The General: Best For Minimum Coverage
- Dairyland Insurance: Best For Drivers Needing An SR-22
- State Farm: Best Rates After a DUI
- GEICO: Best Rates After a Traffic Violation
Below you'll find auto insurance offers available from our advertising partners, followed by our complete in-depth list of the best high-risk car insurance companies we've found.
The General markets itself as a company that will provide auto insurance policies to everyone, including high-risk drivers. In fact, The General is what the industry calls a non-standard auto insurance carrier, meaning that it's a company that specializes in covering high-risk drivers. The General offers coverage in all states except for Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Jersey—which is one reason, it's one of the best overall choices for non-standard car insurance in most parts of the country.
Pros & Cons
Coverage for even the highest-risk drivers
Several unique discounts
Easy claims process through smartphone app
Low liability coverage
Above average customer complaints
Provider of car insurance only
Since The General only provides car insurance, you can't bundle various insurance policies and save money. However, The General does provide some other great discounts, including:
- Multi-car to customers who insure more than one vehicle
- Double Deductible, which essentially doubles the deductible for comprehensive and collision coverage for the first 45 days of a policy—thus reducing your premium
- Paid In Full to customers who pay an entire year's premium instead of monthly installments
- Previous Insurance for those who swap to The General straight from another provider
The General allows customers the option to handle everything from the quote process to filing claims either online, via the app, or over the phone. In fact, customers can even make changes to policies instantly through the online portal.
Both The General's website and smartphone app also have built-in chat features that give you instant access to a live customer service representative.
Also, with the app's Easy Claims feature, you can start a claim and instantly upload photos all from your phone. This can significantly simplify and speed up the process—less wait time, and tedious back and forth with a claims adjuster.
Other Insurance Offerings
Given its focus on low-cost, minimum coverage options for high-risk drivers, The General doesn’t offer any special coverage options for customers as some other insurance companies do. However, it does offer Mexico Tourist Auto Insurance policies through partner companies.
Also, it's important to note that while The General meets the state minimum requirements for all 47 states it serves, the company does not offer high dollar amount policies. In fact, bodily injury liability caps out at just $100,000 per person or $300,000 per accident, and property damage liability maxes out at just $100,000 per accident.
According to The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), The General has a customer complaint ratio of 2.12—more than double the 1.00 industry median. Essentially this means that the NAIC sees that The General receives a large number of complaints based on its overall size. Furthermore, many customer reviews complain specifically about rate increases after additional accidents and slow claims processing.
In many states, drivers with DUIs, major violations, or a history of uninsured driving need a specific proof of insurance document called an SR-22. However, not all insurance companies will insure high-risk drivers, and not all insurance companies even offer SR-22 documentation. If your driving history requires that you file an SR-22 with the Department of Motor Vehicles, you can qualify for a Dairyland car insurance plan quickly through its website and get the required SR-22 documentation you need to get back on the road.
Pros & Cons
Available 24/7 online or via phone
Freedom to choose your own body shop
Highly competitive rates for high-risk drivers
Late payments can lead to loss of coverage
Customer complaints with claims process
No local agents
Surprisingly, Dairyland actually offers an abundance of discounts to customers. These discounts include:
- Advanced Quote
- Transfer Discount
- Quarterly/Yearly Payment Plan
- Defensive Driving
Like most other insurance companies, Dairyland now offers many services through its website or smartphone app. Potential customers can obtain quotes online, and current customers can use the online portal to access account information, make payments, or pull up ID cards online. The app allows customers to access account info and pay bills straight from their phones.
Unfortunately, Dairyland requires that customers file all claims over the phone—you cannot do it through the online portal or smartphone app. Additionally, customers cannot make changes to their coverage without calling Dairyland directly.
Other Insurance Offerings
Dairyland has very limited insurance offerings in comparison to larger, more all-around carriers like GEICO. While Dairyland does carry all of the auto insurance coverage you could possibly need—and motorcycle insurance too—that's about all it offers. No homeowners or life insurance.
Customer satisfaction in the states where Dairyland is available seems consistent with other non-standard insurance providers. In fact, Dairyland Insurance maintains an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Most complaints about Dairyland Insurance on individual review sites either involved billing issues or slow claims processing. However, many customers said they were impressed with how easy and fast Dairyland made getting a policy and an SR-22, which is important for high-risk drivers who need coverage quickly.
It's no surprise that most insurance companies dramatically raise rates after a driver receives a DUI. This is likely because National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports show that drunk driving-related accidents kill nearly 30 people every day. Some insurance companies nearly double rates post-DUI, but, State Farm is more tolerant. In fact, State Farm has the lowest rates in over 20 states for drivers with DUIs.
Pros & Cons
Lowest rates for DUI drivers in over 20 states
Offers Drive Safe & Save discount plan
Provides homeowners & other policies
Pressure to work through local agent
Limited smartphone app
Mediocre customer satisfaction/claims processing
When it comes to discounts, State Farm offers lots of options for safe drivers, safe vehicles, and customer loyalty. These discounts can net you anywhere between 5% and 65% in savings.
One of State Farm's biggest discount options is the Drive Safe & Save plan, which uses a smartphone app to track your driving habits. While you get a 5% discount just for signing up, the longer you drive safely (avoid sudden stops, don't go above a certain speed, etc.), the more savings you rack up (the app gives you feedback on how you're doing). Ultimately you can save up to 30% on your monthly premiums.
Like most other insurance companies out there, you can now manage your car insurance account through the State Farm web portal or through the company's smartphone app. Through these online options, customers can access account information at any time, request roadside assistance, or even file a claim in the event of an auto accident. Most importantly, the app now allows you to communicate with your State Farm agent anytime, anywhere.
Other Insurance Offerings
State Farm can become one-stop shopping for all of your insurance needs. In addition to traditional car insurance, State Farm offers coverage for other types of vehicles, like motorcycles, off-road vehicles and boats. State Farm also offers a wide array of other types of insurance, including renters and homeowners policies, life insurance, supplemental medical policies, and even disability insurance options.
State Farm stands out from many other high-risk insurance carriers due to their network of local service agents who "like a good neighbor" are efficient and easy to reach. What's more, J.D. Power ranked State Farm seventh out of 25 insurance companies in its 2019 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study.
Although it usually takes several driving violations or accidents to label you as "high-risk," many drivers experience rate increases after they are found at fault for just one auto accident or a couple of traffic tickets—increases which can make it hard for these drivers to maintain their car insurance. However, GEICO offers competitive rates even for drivers with speeding tickets or accidents on their record.
Pros & Cons
Exceptional discount offerings
Best mobile app experience
High customer service ratings
Limited network of agents
No GAP coverage
Homeowners and other policies underwritten by partner companies
One of GEICO's strengths is the wide variety of discount options it offers. In fact, it not only offers discounts based on your car's safety features but also offers discounts based on your driving habits and loyalty to the company. Additionally, GEICO partners with a large number of corporations and associations to provide special discounts to members of those organizations.
GEICO is on the cutting edge when it comes to the digital experience it offers to customers. Once you select a GEICO insurance policy, you can manage it and make changes 24/7 either through the online customer portal or smartphone app. What's more, you can file claims or check pending claims, view and print insurance ID cards, request roadside assistance, or even view vehicle information thanks to GEICO's partnership with CARFAX. And, unlike any other insurance provider on this list, GEICO is compatible with your Amazon Echo, Google Home, and smartphone voice commands — so you can manage your policy or connect with an agent without even lifting a finger.
Other Insurance Offerings
GEICO offers some of the most comprehensive car insurance in the nation, but it also offer a wide array of other insurance products to customers as well. In fact, GEICO provides policies for other vehicles like motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, RVs, and boats. GEICO also offers homeowners and renters insurance, health insurance, and more. Even though some of these are offered through partners, you can still bundle these policies and receive GEICO's impressive multi-policy discount.
GEICO consistently receives outstanding ratings from both customers and industry experts. The company not only maintains an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), but J.D. Power consistently ranks GEICO high for customer satisfaction as well.
Customer accolades include GEICO's low rates across the board, willingness to insure high-risk drivers, and outstanding digital experience.
What Is a High-Risk Driver?
A high-risk driver is one who, as a result of their liability assessment, is more expensive to insure in a carrier's view, because they are more likely to file claims. So they are charged more for their insurance coverage than a lower-risk customer would be.
What Makes You A High-Risk Driver?
Many criteria can place you into the category of a high-risk driver; some of them are beyond your control, some reflect your driving history, and some don't even relate to cars at all. Those with high-risk status can include:
- Teens and other newly licensed drivers
- Elderly drivers
- Drivers with poor credit scores or a high debt-to-income ratio
- Drivers with a history of at-fault accidents
- Drivers who have received a speeding ticket or other traffic violation in the past three years
- Drivers with a DUI conviction
- Drivers who allowed coverage to lapse or received a citation for no insurance
How Much Will High-Risk Car Insurance Cost?
While exact rates vary based on your state's insurance requirements and other factors, they can be anywhere from 10-50% more when you're considered a high-risk driver. This can make hundreds of dollars difference in the price of your car insurance premiums.
How Does Being a High-Risk Driver Affect Your Coverage?
Typically high-risk drivers pay more than low-risk drivers for the same amount of coverage. Additionally, some high-risk drivers won't even qualify for standard car insurance coverage and will require insurance from a company that specializes in non-standard auto insurance.
How Long Are You Considered A High-Risk Driver?
Luckily for you, a bad driving history won't impact your insurance rates forever. In fact, most car insurance companies only look at accident and traffic violation records that span the past three years. Accidents and tickets older than this rarely factor into your insurance rates. However, DUI convictions are an exception to this rule: They typically impact your rates for up to five years.
Will All Insurance Providers Cover High-Risk Drivers?
Unfortunately, no. Some standard insurance carriers won't even offer coverage to drivers with a record or DUI conviction.
What Can You Do To De-Risk Your Driving Coverage?
While some factors like your age or gender are outside your control, other factors that increase your driving risk class are completely manageable. In general, experts recommend that you take the following steps to de-risk your driving coverage:
- Take steps to improve your credit score
- Take a driver safety course
- Shop for better insurance rates three years after your last traffic violation
- Don’t allow your auto coverage to lapse
The Bottom Line
Although high-risk drivers often struggle to find car insurance, there are companies out there who will offer you coverage at competitive rates even if your driving history isn't that great. These companies fall basically into two types: non-standard auto insurance carriers, who specialize in coverage for high-risk drivers, and more general providers who don't discriminate among drivers in extending their competitive rates and discounts.
For high-risk drivers, it's not only important to find the best rates and meet their state's required auto-insurance coverage, but it's also important to make sure they receive everything they need from an insurance company, like an SR-22 or other documentation needed to attest they are insurable.
When selecting the best car insurance companies for high-risk drivers, we not only considered each company’s ratings with companies like J.D. Power and the Better Business Bureau, but we also looked at rate comparisons and discount offerings listed on insurance provider websites and in independent reviews.
Better Business Bureau. “Dairyland Insurance.” Accessed June 7, 2020.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Drunk Driving.” Accessed June 7, 2020.
J.D. Power. “2019 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study.” Accessed June 7, 2020.
Better Business Bureau. “Geico Insurance Companies.” Accessed June 7, 2020.
J.D. Power. “2020 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study.” Accessed June 7, 2020.