How High-Risk Drivers Can Lower Their Car Insurance Premiums
How to Save on Car Insurance if You're a Bad Risk
It’s no secret that drivers with perfect driving records pay the lowest car insurance rates. However, if you have accidents, moving violations, or a DUI conviction on your record, your car insurance premium could skyrocket, or you might find it nearly impossible to get car insurance at any price. However, if you find yourself in this position, you’ll usually find a way to get coverage, and sometimes minimize your rate increase as well.
Some auto insurance carriers specialize in providing affordable coverage to drivers with poor driving records. If your insurer is likely to raise your rates because of an accident or moving violation, look elsewhere for coverage. You’ll usually have time to do this. Car insurance carriers can’t raise your premiums during the term of your policy—only when it comes up for renewal. You might have several months before the new rates kick in. However, the premium you pay to a new insurer still might be higher than what you’d been paying.
If you fear that your insurer will drop you, or dramatically raise your rates, contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and request a copy of your driving record. You might find items that don’t belong there, such as old violations that should have been expunged, that are driving up your rates. Completing a safe driving program will sometimes wipe your record clean. However, it’s very difficult to expunge a DUI conviction unless you’ve kept clean for many years.
If your insurer drops you entirely, your DMV can tell you about government programs for high-risk drivers, and can steer you to companies that will insure you for an acceptable minimum liability, although your premiums could be higher than you can tolerate.
These insurers, sometimes called “non-preferred” insurers, are what they sound like: providers of car insurance to the otherwise uninsurable. If you work with them, in most states, you’ll have to show future financial responsibility by having an SR22: a certificate showing that you have minimum liability limits for auto insurance.
Several factors besides your driving record and the state you live in will affect your auto insurance premiums. You can’t do anything about your age or sex, but here are some factors you can change, if you want to lower your car insurance premium:
- Your ZIP code—Your rate will be higher in a high-risk neighborhood.
- What you’re driving—If you have a new, expensive car—especially if it’s a high-performance car that the insurer fears will tempt you to recklessness—you’ll pay a higher premium. If you’re already paying extra for being a high-risk driver, consider driving an older car for a few years.
- How much coverage you want—This is another reason why an older, cheaper car might be the better choice if you’re a high-risk driver: you won’t want or need collision or theft insurance.
- Your credit score—If you have good credit, it’s a sign that you’re financially responsible—and probably responsible in other areas. And your credit score is something you can improve, with a little work.