Car insurance can be rather difficult to obtain for high risk drivers and many companies that do insure high-risk drivers charge high rates, have poor claims handling and customer service, and have very few coverage options. Yet, there are some car insurance companies out there that charge reasonable rates to high-risk drivers while providing them with coverage options and customer service.
- Who is a High-Risk Driver?
- Overview of the 8 Best Insurance Companies for High-Risk Drivers
- How do We Evaluate a High-Risk Auto Insurance Company?
- Compare the Financial Strength of the 8 Companies
- Compare Claims Handling and Customer Satisfaction of The 8 Companies
- Do the 8 Companies Charge Hidden Fees?
- Compare Rates of the 8 Companies
- Compare Coverage Options of the 8 Companies
- What If You Can’t Get Insurance With Any of These Companies?
- How to Get Out Of The High-Risk Category?
Who is a High-Risk Driver?
High risk drivers are drivers who may have a DUI, a number of traffic violations, a driver with multiple fender benders, or a driver with a serious at-fault accident. Other factors that may have auto insurance companies determine that you are a high-risk driver include having a lapse in your car insurance coverage, being a new young driver, being an elderly driver, having previously driven without auto insurance or a license, and having poor credit. Due to their high-risk status, drivers that fit into these categories may have a difficult time obtaining insurance. Many high-risk drivers need SR-22 certification insurance which a lot of traditional car insurance companies do not provide. There are some reputable auto insurance companies, however, that do provide SR-22 certification insurance.
Overview of the 8 Best Insurance Companies for High Risk Drivers
BravoDollar conducted an intensive study with 40+ insurance companies in the country to recommend 8 best companies for high-risk drivers. They are a good mix of large national companies and smaller regional companies, some of which specialize in and cater to these drivers.
Geico is known for its low rates. The company’s rates for high risk drivers are not as good as they are for good drivers; however, they are still cheaper than the rates of many other auto insurance companies, even those specializing in high-risk drivers. Yet, Geico may not insure all high-risk drivers.
Progressive is another large national company known to insure high -risk drivers. It actually started off as a car insurance company for high-risk drivers and has become so successful that it has expanded to provide insurance to mainstream regular drivers.
It would be nice to get car insurance from a large reputable national auto insurance company even if you are a high-risk driver; however, many high-risk drivers have a hard time securing car insurance from one of these companies, even with Geico and Progressive. Oftentimes, the high-risk drivers that these large national companies insure are the ‘lower risk’ high risk drivers. For other high-risk drivers, there are some auto insurance companies that specialize in insuring them. These companies may also take drivers that have been rejected by other companies for being too much of a risk.
However, many of the smaller companies that insure high-risk drivers only offer coverage tailored to meet the state minimum. This means that a driver may not have enough coverage to protect him in a car accident. Yet, insurance for people with less than perfect driving records can be far more expensive than it is for safe drivers and drivers may be looking for ways to save.
Acceptance Insurance insures high-risk and nonstandard drivers and provides SR-22 insurance. The company also offers a number of other forms of insurance. Furthermore, Acceptance offers a number of add-on coverage options that many drivers may be interested in, especially high-risk drivers. The main drawback to Acceptance is that the company’s financial strength is low and the company has a high number of complaints. Furthermore, the company only provides coverage in 17 states.
Bristol West is a subsidiary of Farmers Insurance which was founded in 1973 and specializes in insuring high-risk drivers. This company offer SR-22 and FR-44 insurance along with a number of perks that you may not find in many auto insurance companies that insure high risk drivers. It has excellent financial strength as part of the Farmers Insurance family; however, don’t let its affiliation with Farmers fool you. Bristol West’s level of customer satisfaction is low, one of the main concerns with car insurance companies that insure high-risk drivers.
Dairyland insures high-risk drivers and offers both SR-22 and non-owner SR-22 insurance. The company offers insurance in 43 states. Furthermore, it has an A+ financial rating. The company may also have better customer service than other companies that insure high-risk drivers.
Infinity Auto Insurance
Infinity is an auto insurance company that caters to the Hispanic population in urban Miami and Los Angeles, especially, and insures nonstandard drivers. The company has excellent financial strength, but it also has a high number of complaints according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Furthermore, the rates this company charges may seem unreasonable to those who are concerned about getting a good price on car insurance.
SafeAuto is an auto insurance company for high risk and nonstandard drivers that stated in 1993 and only offers liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage. Furthermore, it is only available in 17 states. The company’s financial strength is not rated and it does have a higher than average complaint ratio.
The General is a subsidiary of American Family which was founded in 1963 and specializes in insuring high risk drivers. The General has excellent financial strength, offers low down payments, and SR-22 insurance. However, just like with other high-risk car insurance companies, it has rather low claims satisfaction. The company has even been accused of trying to avoid paying on claims as promised to policyholders.
How Do We Evaluate a High-Risk Auto Insurance Company?
We evaluate high-risk insurance companies based on 5 dimensions that we deem most important to high-risk drivers in their insurance shopping journey:
- Financial Strength – Many companies that offer high-risk auto insurance are small and have not been around as long as car insurance companies offering regular car insurance. This means that these companies may not have as many assets and generate as much revenue. Yet, insurance companies need to have the financial strength to cover their claims and stay in business.
- Claims and Customer Satisfaction – High-risk insurance companies are notorious for having a low level of claims satisfaction as well as customer satisfaction. They are often accused of trying to avoid paying on claims in addition to various customer service complaints.
- Watch out For Hidden Fees – High-risk insurance companies are also known to charge their policyholders hidden fees. This is one of the primary complaints against this type of insurance company.
- Good rates – Insurance companies that specialize in insuring high-risk drivers often have higher rates than other auto insurance companies, even for the same drivers.
- Coverage Options – Oftentimes, auto insurance companies that insure high-risk drivers only offer liability or other basic coverage so that the driver can meet the state minimum. This may not be enough to protect you in the event of an accident.
Compare Financial Strength of The 8 Companies
Here is a list of high-risk insurers who possess enough financial strength that you can be confident that they are solvent enough to pay their claims.
- Geico: A++ (Superior)
- Progressive: A+ (Superior)
- Dairyland: A+ (Superior)
- The General: A (Excellent)
- Bristol West: A (Excellent)
- Infinity: A- (Excellent)
- Acceptance: C++ (Marginal)
- SafeAuto: Not rated by A.M. Best
Compare Claims Handling and Customer Satisfaction of The 8 Companies
Geico – Geico’s claims satisfaction rating is below the national industry average according to the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study. The national average is 861/1000. Geico scored an 857/ 1000. This is only a few slots down from the industry average which is not that bad, and many people consider Geico to be a reliable auto insurance company. There is no evidence that Geico handles claims from high-risk drivers any differently than its other drivers.
Progressive – Progressive was also rated by the J.D. Power 2018 US Auto claims Satisfaction Study; however, it did not fare as well as Geico. Progressive scored an 849/1000 which is pretty close to the bottom of the list. Still, there is no evidence that the company handles claims from high risk drivers any differently than other drivers.
Acceptance Insurance – Acceptance insurance has five times the median number of complaints for an auto insurance company of its size. This means that consumers tend to have a very bad experience with the company. Most of Acceptance’s complaints have to do with its slow claims process.
Bristol West – Even though Bristol West is backed by Farmers insurance, this company runs into the same problem as many other companies that offer insurance to high risk drivers. The company has a great deal of complaints. Thus, we give it a thumbs down for claims handling and customer satisfaction.
Dairyland – Dairyland has more than twice the national median number of complaints. This may be good for an auto insurance company that specializes in insuring high-risk drivers when you consider some companies have as many as five times the median number of complaints.
Infinity – Infinity Insurance has far more than the median number of complaints according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
SafeAuto – This company has a higher than average complaint ratio according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Customers have complained that the company tries to avoid paying its claims.
The General – The General’s customer satisfaction and claims satisfaction ratings are known to be rather low. The company is not, however, rated by J.D. Power.
*Thus, people looking for high-risk car insurance can expect to run into poor claims handling and a lack of good customers service and can only try to minimize this problem as avoiding it completely is unlikely. Geico and Progressive are standouts due to their reputation even if their claims handling would be considered below average to an average driver.
Do the 8 Companies Charge Hidden Fees?
Unlike traditional car insurance companies, car insurance companies that insure high-risk drivers are known for engaging in some shady practices such as charging hidden fees. We studied the practices of the 8 companies and made a summary of whether these companies charge hidden fees:
- Geico: No
- Progressive: No
- Acceptance: No (There is no evidence of documented complaints about hidden fees.)
- Bristol West: No (Although customers complain about price increases without a prior explanation, there are no documented complaints about hidden fees.)
- Dairyland: No
- Infinity: No (There is no evidence that this company charges hidden fees.)
- SafeAuto: No (There is no evidence that this company charges hidden fees.)
- The General: Yes. Customers have claimed that this company’s rates include some hidden fees. Consumers specifically complain that the hidden fees make rates differ from the advertised price.
Compare Rates of the 8 Companies
The cost of car insurance is one of the primary factors that drivers look at when trying to select a car insurance company. This may be especially true with high-risk drivers who often have to pay higher rates for insurance. There are a number of factors that auto insurance companies take into account when figuring your rates. These factors include, the insurance company’s rate range, your driving record, your age, your location, your vehicle, your credit score, and your coverage options.
Geico is known for its low rate. Even when comparing with other smaller companies specializing in high-risk drivers, its rates still remain very competitive. If you are a high-risk drivers and you can obtain insurance from Geico, you should consider going with this company.
If you have to consider other smaller insurance companies because you can’t obtain car insurance from the two large national companies, The General and Dairyland tends to have more competitive rates.
However, the only way to guarantee that you have the lowest rates possible for your car insurance is to price shop and compare your car insurance quotes from several companies. Geico might have low rates for most of high-risk drivers, but your lowest rates might come from Dairyland or Bristol West or Progressive. The only way to know is to shop around.
Compare Coverage Options of the 8 Companies
Many car insurance companies that insure high-risk drivers offer limited coverage options. However, some companies do offer a full array of coverage options. The companies that offer a variety of coverage options include:
- Infinity Insurance
- Freeway Insurance
- Dairyland Insurance
- The General
- Bristol West
Acceptance Insurance – This company offers basic liability coverage, comprehensive, collision, and uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Furthermore, the company offers medical payments coverage, roadside assistance, accidental death coverage, rental car reimbursement and towing. The company also has some unique coverage options such as TicketProof and Hospital Indemnity.
SafeAuto – Only offers Liability Collision, and Comprehensive Coverage. The company’s main aim is to allow you to meet the state minimum.
Thus, you can obtain different types of coverage that would adequately protect you in an accident if you choose the right limit from all of the Insurance companies except SafeAuto.
What If You Can’t Get Insurance With Any of These Companies?
It may happen that you try to get auto insurance with a number of auto insurance companies, even those that insure high-risk drivers, and you keep getting turned down. If you have explored all the suitable auto insurance companies that insure high-risk drivers and you still cannot get car insurance, you may qualify for something known as Assigned Risk Insurance. Assigned Risk Insurance is a method of assigning high-risk drivers to insurance companies. If you have been denied auto insurance because of your driving record, you can have an insurance agent notify your state that you need Assigned Risk Insurance. People who gain auto insurance through this method tend to pay higher fees, yet you will end up with the insurance that you need to drive your car legally.
How to Get Out Of The High-Risk Category?
Even if you find auto insurance as a high-risk driver, you are bound to get a better premium price if you are no longer considered to be high risk. Thus, in addition to finding the best auto insurance for you currently, you need to take steps to get yourself out of the high-risk category.
- Improve your credit score – many people may not even realize that having bad credit can get them classified as a high-risk driver.
- Take a Defensive Driving Class – many auto insurance companies offer discounts for improving your driving skills with an approved course.
- Wait it Out – There is generally a reason that you are considered to be a high-risk driver that will drop out of your driving record in time. For example, if you have a DUI conviction, auto insurance companies tend to consider you a high-risk driver for three to seven years. After this time period, your rate will go back down. So, sometimes you just have to wait it out.
- Avoid tickets and accidents – Even if tickets and/ or accidents are not the primary reason that you are considered to be a high-risk driver, you still need to avoid them in order to get out of that category.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that high-risk drivers often have less selection of car insurance and it comes with a cost. Most companies that insure high-risk drivers have very low customer service and claims satisfaction ratings compared to companies that insure good to average drivers. Furthermore, these companies can charge higher rates, have hidden fees, may not be as financially solid, and may have less coverage selection than a traditional car insurance company. Therefore, consumers who need high-risk auto insurance should first try traditional car insurance companies such as Geico and Progressive as these are the safest bets.
Acceptance Insurance is not financially sound enough that you can be assured that it can cover its claims and should be avoided as well.
Companies such as Infinity charge too much however, if money is no object, the company has nice perks compared to other car insurance companies that insure nonstandard and high-risk drivers.
Bristol West and Dairyland are decent companies for those seeking high risk car insurance. The General, a well-known name in high risk car insurance, places after these two because The General may charge hidden fees; however, at least you will be covered.
The most important thing to remember about high-risk car insurance is that you should not need it forever if you learn to drive safely, clean up your credit, and wait for negative things on your driving record to fall off.