How to Get Car Insurance With a Bad Driving Record

You Can Still Save Money With High-Risk Auto Insurance

A frowning, upset woman in driver's seat making call to her insurance company
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Car insurance becomes harder to find when you have a bad driving record. It can also be more expensive to purchase. A bad record often means higher premiums. Your driving record is important to insurance companies. They use it to evaluate the risk involved with issuing you a policy.

It could be time to start shopping for a new policy if you recently committed a major traffic violation or your third minor violation. Your old carrier may raise your rates or deliver a non-renewal notice, choosing not to insure you going forward. Here's how to find car insurance when you have a bad driving record.

Key Takeaways

  • An insurance company will run a report on your driving record. It won’t help matters to try to hide a bad one.
  • Older violations should drop off your driving record after three to five years. 
  • More recent violations on your record are more damaging than older ones.
  • Some insurance companies will cover high-risk drivers, but the premiums may be much more expensive.
  • Be sure to inquire about available discounts when you’re hunting for a policy. Even high-risk insurers can offer them.

Be Upfront About Your Record

A number of things can raise your rates or make it harder for you to get insurance. They include speeding tickets, at-fault accidents, and drunk driving convictions.

It's best to be upfront about it if your driving record is poor. The quotes you receive will be inaccurate if you try to hide it. The company could increase your rates or decline to insure you after it runs a report. You have to provide accurate information if you want an accurate quote.

Consider Nonstandard Insurance Providers

You may want 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. This is a form the insurance company must fill out to certify that you have adequate insurance. A high-risk insurer will often cover drivers who need an SR 22.

You can also use an insurance agent. An agent who deals regularly with high-risk drivers will be able to help you find a provider to suit you.

Reduce Coverage if You Must

Insurance rates can soar when a driver has a bad driving record. Removing comprehensive and collision coverage can reduce your overall costs.

You may want to sell your car if you fear that it's too nice to drive without comprehensive coverage. Think about buying 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.

One rule of thumb is that comprehensive/collision coverage may not be cost-effective if your car is worth less than ten times the premium.

Look for Discounts

You'll lose your good-driver discount with a ticket or other traffic violation, but you might be eligible for other insurance discounts. Even high-risk insurance companies offer discounts. They include reduced rates for financial stability and for owning your home. Multi-policy and multi-car discounts are also common, as are rewards for being a good student or having proof of a prior insurance discount.

Ask your insurance agent whether there are any discounts that you may have missed.

Save Money With Your Payment Plan

You can save money, depending on which payment plan you select. Make sure you let the insurance company know if you can pay upfront in full, which can get you a discounted rate. Automatic bill payments from your bank account or credit card can also save you money, compared to mailing in checks or initiating electronic payments on your own.

Wait It Out

A bad driving record won't stay with you forever. Certain issues will drop off your report after a certain period of time, often about three to five years, but this can vary from state to state. More recent events carry greater weight than those from longer ago. A ticket in the last three months will weigh more heavily than one from five years ago, for example.

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. It's based on the information in your credit report. Insurance companies use it as a statistical tool to evaluate the chance that you'll file a claim.

Insurance companies look at how well you manage your money when they're evaluating you as a potential insurance customer, so it pays to get your credit report in order.

Stay Insured

High-risk drivers often find it hard to stay insured. Letting your car insurance lapse is a common way to stay identified as a high-risk driver. You might keep paying high-risk rates for a very long time, even after your points drop off, if you don't keep your car insurance active.

Keep paying your premiums. Maintain your insurance coverage now so you can enjoy lower premiums in the future.

Article Sources

  1. Insurance Information Institute. "Do Auto Insurance Premiums Go up After a Claim?"

  2. Progressive Casualty Insurance Company. "How to Get Auto Insurance If You’ve Had a DUI."

  3. Missouri Department of Insurance. "Tips on Lowering Premiums."

  4. Insurance Information Institute. "How to Save Money on Car Insurance."

  5. State Farm. "What Is High Risk Auto Insurance?"

  6. Insurance Information Institute. "Credit and Insurance Scores."