To an insurer, high-risk means one thing – you’re more likely to file a claim than an average driver. As a result, once drivers are classified as high-risk, their premiums automatically increase, sometimes hundreds of dollars.

Car insurers see high-risk as undesirable and sometimes, choose to deny drivers coverage because of it. A high-risk driver can cost an insurer more than they make, which is why they raise the premium rate as protection.

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What Are the Classifications?

There’s no overarching definition of who is high-risk. Every auto insurer has their own definition and tier qualifications for standard and riskier drivers. However, there are a few uniform reasons for why one may be considered a high-risk driver.

  • DUI

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous business. Not only will a convicted motorist face costly penalties and fines, there are other detrimental consequences. A driver will face steep car insurance rates, have to obtain an SR-22 filing, and may even be denied auto insurance all together. DUIs typically stay on a driver’s record for a minimum of 5 years, though it varies by state law.

  • Violations police cop pulls over white car on roadside

Excessive speeding, driving without proper license or registration, driving without car insurance, recklessness, and illegal racing can all shift a driver into the high-risk category. Multiple violations are likely to do the same – as with repeated speeding tickets. If your license was ever terminated, you may also see your rate rise.

  • Serious Accidents

Any type of serious accident might increase your rating to high-risk. Fender benders or once in a while accidents may simply raise your premium for a term, but an accident that involves injuries or extensive damages can have larger consequences.

  • High-Risk Vehicles

If you drive an expensive sports car or a collectible, you may find yourself in the high-risk category. However, there are insurance companies that specialize in these types of vehicles and they may be worth considering if you don’t want to be hit with a high-risk rating. Of course, even with specialized carriers, you will likely still pay a high rate for these vehicles, as the repairs aren’t cheap.

  • Age

What does age have to do with it? Unless you’re in a state that bans factoring age into auto insurance rates, you can expect a greater premium as you get older. A young, single man driving a very expensive car may be seen as high-risk just as most seniors over the age of 70 see their rates jump exorbitantly. It doesn’t always seem fair, but the statistics are statistics.

  • First-Time Drivers

Brand new drivers are often seen as high-risk, regardless of age. Without any driving history or past insurance, carriers are more reluctant to offer affordable coverage because of the unknown factor.

  • Poor Credit Score

Auto insurers do look at your credit history. Unless you live in California, Hawaii, or Massachusetts, where they banned the use of credit scores in determining premiums, your credit history will likely play a role. Car insurers want to be able to trust that you’ll pay on time and they often see a correlation between paying late credit card bills and riskier driving.

  • Location

Depending on what area you reside in, you may be classified as higher risk. Locations with more accidents or a dense population may also bump up your rates.


Remember, High-Risk Isn’t Forever.

High-risk won’t last forever and it is not the be-all-end-all. You can come back from a high-risk rating over time.

  • Focus on the Clean Record

white documentRegardless of your driving history, this should be the end goal. Having a good driving record not only keeps you and others on the road safe, but it pays off with cost savings. Do whatever you need to in order to focus on driving safe. Drive without distractions. Put away any cellphones and avoid driving with distracting passengers whenever possible.

  • Go for the Discounts

If your car insurance is higher than you’d like because of high-risk, change what you can. Go after the insurance discounts. Invest in car safety features or install hands-free calling to receive a discount from your insurer. Take a defensive driving class to obtain an insurance discount and show that you really do care about driving safely. If you don’t drive far distances, be sure to inquire about low-mileage and other potential saving opportunities.

  • Seek Out Carriers

Some car insurance companies specialize in coverage for high-risk drivers. They advertise affordable rates and can be an option worth switching to if you find your original carrier slammed you with rate increases. Try comparing quotes from multiple providers. (Be prepared to file an SR-22 as some states require them with a high-risk rating. The certificate states that you have the met all the coverage qualifications required by your state.)

Affordable high-risk auto insurance isn’t easy to find. That said, the rating doesn’t last forever, and there are influential factors still under your control. Shop around to find the best quote for your situation and plan ahead for the future. 

Photo credit (top image): Phil! Gold, Woodleywonderworks, Wikimedia

Photo credit (in-line): Robert Couse-Baker, Pixabay