High-risk car insurance is a type of auto insurance that covers situations in which the insurer perceives there is a greater-than-average likelihood of a claim, or when the perceived amount that might be paid out in claims is higher than normal.
Frequent reasons for high-risk insurance include multiple accidents, infractions, and driving-under-the-influence violations (DUIs). Other times, you can be considered high-risk due to your payment history, age, or the value, use, or features of your car. For example, rates will rise if you have modifications to your vehicle or will use the car for racing.
It’s best to call your insurance company to discuss your specific situation when you’ve been denied car insurance or high-risk car insurance is appropriate for another reason. Although many high-risk insurers can cover most of these circumstances, some will do it better than others. Here’s our list of the car insurance companies that are the best for coverage in different high-risk circumstances.
Best High-Risk Auto Insurance Companies of 2021
|Provider||Why We Picked It|
|Bristol West||Best Overall|
|GEICO||Runner-Up, Best Overall|
|State Farm||Best for DUI and Safe Driving Discounts|
|Progressive||Best for Lowering Costs|
|Hagerty Insurance||Best for Modified Cars or Racetrack Use|
|Kemper Auto Insurance||Best for Reconditioned Vehicles|
|The General||Best Basic Coverage|
We teamed up with MediaAlpha to bring you the following car insurance offers. Below, you'll find more details on our picks for the best options for high-risk drivers:
Best Overall: Bristol West
Bristol West is a high-risk car insurance specialist that’s been insuring drivers for over 45 years. If you have poor credit, no credit, no prior insurance, or even a DUI, it’s worth knowing that the company positions itself to help drivers who have trouble finding insurance elsewhere. Bristol West is a subsidiary of Farmers Insurance, the seventh-largest car insurer in the U.S., and has an AM Best rating of A (Excellent).
Bristol West has a high level of complaints compared with the average insurer. In the most recent National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) data, its 2019 score of 3.05 was higher than the industry average of 1.0, with the prior two years showing even higher scores. But, in general, most specialized car insurers in this market have average to extremely high complaints filed in the past three years. Bristol West posted some of the better results in this category in terms of complaints.
Thanks to the range of high-risk situations the company can insure, a user-friendly website with online services, and comparably fewer complaints among high-risk insurers, we chose Bristol West as the best high-risk insurer overall.
Specialist for high-risk car insurance
Can offer rideshare coverage
More limited discounts than some competitors
Not available in all states
Runner-Up, Best Overall: GEICO
GEICO, is the second-largest car insurer in the U.S., and may offer high-risk drivers better prices than some of its competitors that specialize in this category.
It carries a financial strength rating of A++ (Superior) by AM Best, and is probably the most familiar to consumers of the companies we reviewed due to its cheeky gecko featured in TV commercials for the past 20 years, but it also ranks highly for customer and claims satisfaction in independent studies.
GEICO also was the top-scoring insurer in the J.D. Power Digital Customer Experience Study and the J.D. Power Insurance Shopping Study, which makes it a great pick if you like to use an app to manage your insurance or get quotes.
We ran price samples with GEICO for high-risk and average-risk drivers (without providing information to allow a credit-based insurance score, which means pricing was not optimized for a good credit score) and found the rates to be very reasonable compared with other insurers. We saw good prices for young drivers as well.We checked other online sources that compare insurance rates, and GEICO consistently offered good rates for higher-risk drivers.
The company can also provide SR-22 filings (a form filed with your state to show that you are meeting its minimum auto liability insurance requirements) if you had a DUI or reckless-driving charge. If you have a classic car or replica, GEICO also has a partnership with American Modern Insurance Group to provide coverage for such vehicles. In general, GEICO appears well-equipped for a range of high-risk driver scenarios, so it is our pick for Runner-up Best Overall. If you think you need high-risk insurance, be sure to check GEICO’s rates before going to a specialized high-risk insurer.
Good customer service rankings for claims and customer satisfaction
Low levels of customer complaints
Easy online quotes with good pricing
Safe driver discounts via tracking device
Can provide SR-22 or FR-44 forms (the latter for Florida and Virginia)
Mechanical breakdown coverage
No gap insurance
Safe driving DriveEasy program not available in all states
Best for DUI and Reckless Driving: State Farm
If you are looking to get your driving record back on track and to insure yourself with a non-specialized high-risk insurer, then State Farm is a good choice. It’s the largest car insurer in the U.S. in terms of market share.It has a financial stability rating of A++ (Superior) with AM Best and good results for customer and claims satisfaction in independent studies.
We researched pricing online, and State Farm’s quotes came in lower than most other standard insurers for DUI and multiple infractions. We selected the company as best in this category because of that, and opportunities to allow high-risk drivers to recover from higher costs through participation in its Drive Safe & Save program. It uses an app to monitor safe driving habits, which can lower your insurance premium up to 30%, based on your driving habits.
Fair pricing for DUI and reckless driving versus competitors
High customer satisfaction rankings for claims and service
Low complaint levels
Personalized service through local agents
Various opportunities to save on insurance costs for safe driving habits or safe car features
Can take up to six months to see discounts from the Drive Safe & Save program, if you exhibit safe driving habits
Customer satisfaction rankings vary from top-ranked to average, depending on the region
Customers rate the digital experience below average
Read the full review: State Farm Car Insurance
Best for Lowering Costs: Progressive
Progressive has a great online quoting tool that shows you comparative rates from other insurers and lets you name your price. The online quote then provides helpful suggestions on the kind of coverage you can expect for the price you’ve cited. The company has been insuring cars since 1937, and is one of the nation’s largest car insurers, with a financial strength rating of A+ (Superior) from AM Best.
Progressive’s customer service satisfaction and claims satisfaction rankings fall somewhat below average. Its complaints trends with state regulators are better than average, however.
Progressive is a pioneer in telematics; it has a safe driver program called Snapshot that can lower your insurance cost based on data obtained with a tracking device monitoring your driving habits.
Depending on how you get your quote, Progressive’s insurance cost will vary; be aware that it uses different pricing for agents, brokers, and online sales because of differences in expenses among these sales methods. We chose Progressive as best for lowering costs because of the features it offers to help customize your price by getting a quote yourself online or with an agent’s help.
Progressive can offer an SR-22
Snapshot safe driver program saves customers an average of $145 a year
Multiple quotes available online to help you find the best price
Offers rideshare insurance
Diminishing deductible for every six months you don’t have a claim
Offers gap insurance
Number of complaints registered with state regulators is below average
Progressive’s rates vary depending on the way in which you purchase your car insurance (agent, broker, or online)
Rideshare coverage only available in limited states
Somewhat below-average customer service and claims satisfaction
Best for Modified Vehicles and Track Use: Hagerty
Hagerty is a specialist insurer for motor enthusiasts that can cover almost any specialty-car situation, whether you are involved in motorsports, have a high-value car, a collectible, kit car, or a supercar.Policies by Hagerty are underwritten by Essentia Insurance Co., which has an AM Best rating of A (Excellent). The company provides coverage in all 50 states and has an outstanding track record with the NAIC, with low or no complaints over the past three years.
Hagerty is our top pick for modified vehicles and track use because of its ability to insure a range of specialty cars for motorsports that many other insurers will not. We also like the community the company builds with members through the Hagerty Drivers Club.
Hagerty Drivers Club for members provides discounts and roadside assistance
Specialist in collector cars, including supercars, exotics, and imports
Can insure cars for racetrack use
Can insure modified cars and kit cars
Spare parts coverage
Guaranteed value coverage, which pays your car’s full insured value in a total loss
Coverage options may not be available in all states
Not for everyday-use cars
Best for Reconditioned Vehicles: Kemper Auto
If you have a high-risk driver profile, if you need an SR-22, or are seeking coverage for a car that’s been compromised or rebuilt from salvaged parts of other vehicles, Kemper may be able to help.
Kemper has an AM Best Financial strength rating of A- (Excellent) and over 6.4 million policies. It offers online sales, with quick confirmation of quotes by email (although it may be best to speak to a representative to ensure you are getting the coverage you need). The online form is very basic, but it does offer options to adjust coverages. The company also sells insurance through independent agents and brokers who can advise you.
Although the company does not offer all options for high-risk drivers or those with salvaged cars, Kemper offers a few nice features in its coverage options for standard cars. This makes it easier to insure all your cars in one place. Features for standard cars include new-car replacement (instead of depreciated value) and gap insurance (an optional coverage that helps pay off your auto loan if your car is totaled or stolen and you owe more than the car's depreciated value). It also offers roadside assistance, and accident and traffic violation forgiveness.
If you have had payment issues in the past, you may also appreciate Kemper’s payment reminder service. If you are in danger of having your policy canceled for non-payment, Kemper will send you a text message to help remind you to make the payment.
We chose Kemper as the best insurer for reconditioned cars because of some of its service features (like roadside assistance), and the ability to insure various types of standard and high-risk cars, including salvaged vehicles, at the same time.
Insurance for salvaged cars
Accident forgiveness, violation, and deductible waivers
Coverage for trip-interruption expenses
An increasing number of complaints in the past two years, following below-average complaints prior
If you qualify for standard auto coverage, you may find a lower price with a standard-market insurer
Replacement cost, gap coverage, and other features may not be available to high-risk clients
Online resources are limited and online quote is not user-friendly
You need to speak to an agent to be sure you get the right coverage
Best for Basic Coverage: The General
The General is our pick for the best high-risk insurer for basic coverage because it can insure almost any type of high-risk driver. Whether you have bad credit, a history of accidents, traffic violations, or have been uninsured, it probably can help.
The General is an insurance agency, underwriting policies through three companies, including The General Automobile Insurance Co. You can work with a local agent to help find the best coverage, or you can get a quote online.
The company has a financial strength rating from AM Best of A (Excellent) and the most recent data filed with state regulators shows that The General has a very low current level of complaints for automobile insurance (in 2019 it was 1.03, right in line with the industry average of 1.0). This makes it a standout when compared with other high-risk insurers. However, complaints trends for The General have been double the average in previous years.
Be aware that the General agency also underwrites insurance through two other insurance divisions (Permanent General Assurance Corp. and the Permanent General Assurance Corp. of Ohio), both of which have extremely high incidents of complaints through the NAIC. So when you get your insurance policy, be clear on which of the General agency companies will be underwriting it.
The company offers convenient payment options with low down payments. The General is best if you are looking for basic or minimum insurance coverage. The coverage offerings appear to be limited, with very little information online. It would be best to speak to an agent about options.
Can insure people with bad credit or other insurability issues, like having been uninsured
Low current levels of complaints for policies underwritten by The General
Fast online quotes and policy management with an app
Local agents to provide help with your policy
The General Agency may place you with one of two other insurers who have high levels of complaints
Low maximum coverage limits
Few coverage perks or options
Read the full review: The General Car Insurance
What Is a High-Risk Auto Insurance?
High-risk auto insurance refers to any policy an insurance company perceives as having the potential to carry higher-than-average payouts due to claims. One of the tools for determining car insurance rates is risk classification factors, such as driving history. Insurance companies base premiums on how likely they think it will be to have to pay claims, and in doing so, how much they expect to have to pay out.
You might need high-risk car insurance if either you or your vehicle are considered high risk. For example, cars with high monetary value or modifications can be considered high-risk because the payout in a claim likely would be higher than one for a standard car. Most often, though, people turn to high-risk car insurance because of their driving history.
This list shows the average three-year cost impact on insurance premiums for high-risk drivers with the following common violations:
- DUI: 71%
- At-fault accident: 41%
- Reckless driving: 67%
- Speeding: 25%
Who Is a High-Risk Driver?
High-risk drivers include people whose driving history shows potentially higher threats than the average. Some high-risk driver profiles include:
- New drivers and, for some insurers, young drivers
- Those without prior insurance
- People who have had one or more car accidents
- Drivers who have been convicted of DUI or driving while intoxicated (DWI)
- Drivers with multiple traffic violations
- Someone who has been required by a state to file an SR-22
- People who have a below-average credit history
- People with modified or high-value cars
How to Get High-Risk Auto Insurance
The best way to get high-risk car insurance is to shop around for quotes with a few different insurance companies before you make a decision. Once you have quotes, be sure to speak to insurance professionals about your situation.
Unlike typical car insurance situations, when you have a high-risk profile, it is more important to call agents for each insurance company you are considering to discuss options.
Agents can also suggest ways to lower the cost of your insurance and give you an idea of how long you will remain in a high-risk category.
Tips to Lower the Cost of High-Risk Car Insurance
Depending on the reasons you are considered a high-risk driver, you can take a variety of approaches to lower the cost of your car insurance.
- If you are a high risk due to your car’s value: Consider installing after-market anti-theft devices that your insurance company will give discounts for. Before choosing a device, ask your insurance company which one yields the greatest discounts.
- If you are buying a new car: Be sure to check the cost of the model’s car insurance before you purchase it. Beyond your own risk factors, the cost of car insurance depends on the car’s risk profile. Cars that have more expensive parts, higher engine capacity, or those that are at more risk for theft, especially in your ZIP code area, will add to your insurance cost. Cars with safety features may lower the cost of your insurance.
- If you are high risk after multiple accidents: Shop around for rates with different insurers every renewal term. Some insurers use the last five years of driving history to determine the rate; others use the last three years. It is also worth noting that not all insurers penalize an at-fault accident in the same way.
- Check if your insurance company will give you discounts: You can lower your cost by taking defensive driving courses, or enrolling in a safe driver program that tracks data about your driving habits, for example.
- If you are high risk due to a low credit score: Try to take measures to get your credit score back on track. You do not need to pay off all your credit cards to improve your credit score; you can make improvements just by paying your bill before it is past due, or lowering the average card balance. If you are high risk in terms of credit score due to a special circumstance, like a divorce, medical crisis, temporary unemployment, or death in the family, let your insurance company know. Some will make exceptions, and this could save you some money.
- If you are high risk because you’re a senior: Some companies consider drivers over age 65 higher risk. Consider taking defensive driving courses, or looking into insurers that have better rates or group plans for seniors.
- Check into insurance rates through membership associations and your employer: Sometimes, these membership plans will be more lenient because you are affiliated with a group.
Stay up to date with what factors are affecting your insurability, and make improvements wherever possible. By paying attention to the details, asking your insurance company when you can expect your rate to go down, and finding companies that will give you the most discounts, you could improve your premium sooner rather than later.
What If You Can’t Find Insurance
If you try to get quotes and are unable to find insurance because of your high-risk classification, ask insurance companies that deny coverage why they are doing so. This will help you learn about the best way to find coverage elsewhere.
If it is due to past claims, you can ask for a letter of claims experience, so you will have all the details you need to get quotes elsewhere. You can also contact your state insurance commissioner’s office to help you find insurance if you are having trouble because states have systems to guarantee that auto insurance is available to those who cannot obtain it in the private market. As part of this, you could be assigned by your state to an “assigned risk plan” at a private insurer, rather than choosing your insurer, or you could try a government-run insurance program.
How We Chose the Best High-Risk Auto Insurance Companies
To select the best high-risk car insurance companies, we reviewed which insurers are able to offer coverage in each high-risk circumstance, including:
- Insuring high-risk drivers or specialty cars
- Giving better rates for poor to bad credit
- Offering an SR-22
Because financial stability is an important aspect of an insurance company’s being able to meet its financial obligations, we checked financial strength rankings for all the insurers, making sure they ranged from Excellent to Superior, as ranked by AM Best.
We reviewed the car insurance prices on the companies’ websites, through online quotes, and in independent auto insurance rate studies to identify the top options in the high-risk car insurance categories. We also looked at customer complaints for specialty insurers and the top car insurers in the U.S. by region and nationally as filed with the NAIC, as well as standings in four different car insurance studies by J.D. Power, which ranked overall customer satisfaction, claims satisfaction insurance shopping experience, and digital customer experience.
Although our regular car insurance company reviews focus on identifying companies with a low complaints ratio through state regulators in the NAIC databases, we found that most specialized car insurers in the high-risk market had average to extremely high levels of complaints filed in the past three years; therefore, we looked for the companies with the best track records in the category.
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