When you have a bad driving record, car insurance becomes more difficult to find and more expensive to purchase. Your driving record is important to insurance companies because they use it to evaluate the risk in issuing you a policy. A bad record usually means higher premiums.
If you recently received a major traffic violation or your third minor violation, it could be time to start shopping for a new policy. Your old carrier may raise your rates or deliver a non-renewal, choosing not to insure you going forward. Here's how to find car insurance when you have a bad driving record.
- An insurance company will run a report on your driving record, so it won’t help matters to try to hide a bad one.
- More recent violations on your record are more damaging than older ones, and older ones should drop off after three to five years.
- Some insurance companies will cover high-risk drivers, but the premiums might be significantly more expensive.
- Be sure to inquire about available discounts when you’re hunting for a policy because even high-risk insurers usually offer them.
Be Upfront About Your Record
A number of things may raise your rates or make it more difficult for you to get insurance:
If your driving record is poor, it's best to just be upfront about it. Otherwise, the quotes you receive will be inaccurate, and when the insurance company runs a report on your driving record, they could increase your rates or decline to insure you. Therefore, if you want an accurate quote, you need to provide accurate information.
Consider Nonstandard Insurance Providers
As you are shopping, you may need to seek out insurance companies that deal with nonstandard auto policies. These companies will insure high-risk drivers, making your search easier. Your state may require an SR 22 filing, which is a form the insurance company must fill out certifying you have adequate insurance. A high-risk insurer will generally cover drivers who need an SR 22.
You can also use an insurance agent. One who deals regularly with high-risk drivers will be able to help you find a provider to suit your situation.
Reduce Coverage If Necessary
Insurance rates can soar when a driver has a bad driving record. Removing comprehensive and collision can reduce your overall costs.
If you fear your car is too nice to drive without comprehensive coverage, you may consider selling it and getting something more affordable. A used mid-sized vehicle with good safety features, one that you feel comfortable driving without comprehensive and collision coverage, might be a solution in the meantime.
A general rule of thumb is that comprensive/collision coverage may not be cost-effective if your car is worth less than ten times the premiums.
Look for Discounts
Even high-risk insurance companies offer discounts. You'll lose your good driver discount with a ticket or other traffic violation, but perhaps you are eligible for one of these other insurance discounts:
- Financial stability discount
- Homeowner discount
- Multi-policy discount
- Multi-car discount
- Good student discount
- Prior proof of insurance discount
Ask your insurance agent if there are any discounts you may have missed.
Save Money With Your Payment Plan
Did you know you can save money depending on which payment plan you select? Make sure you let the insurance company know if you can pay in full because that usually gets you a discounted rate.
Oherwise, automatic bill payments from your bank account or credit card can also save you money compared to mailing checks.
Wait It Out
If you have a bad driving record, it won't stay with you forever. Certain items will drop off your driving report after a certain period of time—usually about three to five years, though it varies from state to state. Also, more recent events carry greater weight than ones from longer ago; a ticket in the last three months will weigh more heavily than one from five years ago.
Staying accident-free and avoiding tickets can help decrease your premium in the future. Working on your credit during this time can also help your insurance prospects.
Your insurance score is somewhat like your credit score and is based on the information in your credit report. Insurance companies use it as a statistical tool to evaluate the likelihood of you filing a claim.
Insurance companies consider how well you manage your money when evaluating you as a potential insurance customer, so it pays to get your credit report in order.
High-risk drivers often find it difficult to stay insured. Letting your car insurance lapse is a common way for someone to stay identified as a high-risk driver. If you do not keep your car insurance active, you are likely to keep paying high-risk rates for a very long time, even after your points drop off.
Keep paying your premiums and maintain your insurance coverage now, so that you can enjoy lower premiums in the future.