When it comes to car insurance rates, most drivers are considered relatively low risk and qualify for standard car insurance coverage. Their rates may be close to average for their state, ZIP code, or age.
But high-risk drivers, meaning people with a bad driving record, a lapse in their coverage, or some other special circumstance, often don’t qualify for a standard car insurance policy, which means they’ll need to purchase a non-standard car insurance coverage, often at a higher rate.
What is standard car insurance?
Standard car insurance is just regular car insurance coverage for low-risk drivers. Drivers who have a clean driving record qualify for standard car insurance, as do drivers who only have a minor incident on their record, like a single speeding ticket or a small fender bender.
Standard car insurance coverage can be purchased from almost any car insurance company. It’s not a specific kind of car insurance policy or coverage amount, it just describes a policy written for a driver without special, high-risk needs.
What is non-standard car insurance?
Non-standard car insurance is coverage for high-risk drivers. This generally includes people who have accidents or moving violations (or a combination of both) on their driving record.
But not all accidents and moving violations are the same. For example, a driver with a single speeding ticket and a fender bender on their record likely won’t need non-standard car insurance, but a driver with a DUI/DWI or a serious at-fault accident might need a non-standard car insurance policy.
Non-standard auto insurance is usually more expensive than a standard policy because the insurance company faces a greater risk of paying a claim with a driver who requires non-standard coverage.
Basically, if your car insurance company thinks you’re significantly more likely to file an insurance claim, you probably need non-standard car insurance.
How is non-standard car insurance different from standard car insurance?
Standard car insurance is just regular car insurance for drivers who are considered a low or average risk. The vast majority of drivers in the United States qualify for standard car insurance coverage.
Non-standard car insurance is for drivers who are considered high risk. Drivers who have been in multiple accidents, received one or more DUI/DWIs, or are otherwise considered high-risk drivers likely need to purchase a non-standard car insurance policy.
The car insurance policy itself works the same way whether it’s standard or non-standard insurance — you pay your premiums and your car insurance will pay out if you have a covered accident.
But non-standard car insurance means the company is taking on more risk by insuring you, and the companies that are known for offering non-standard car insurance, like National General or Direct Auto, may not have the same range of coverage options as other car insurance companies.
Who qualifies as a non-standard driver?
You are more likely to qualify as a non-standard driver if you meet one or more of the following criteria:
A non-American driver’s license: Foreign drivers who don’t have a license issued in the United States are more likely to be considered a non-standard driver.
A lapse in car insurance coverage: Drivers who have had a lapse in coverage in the last few years are more likely to be considered a non-standard driver, especially if your coverage lapsed while you owned a vehicle.
A blemished driving record: If you have a recent moving violation, accident, or a DUI/DWI on your record, you should expect to pay more for your car insurance. If you have multiple moving violations or accidents on your record, you may be considered a non-standard driver.
You need an SR-22: If you are required by the state to have an SR-22 (which is a form that proves you have car insurance), you are likely considered a non-standard driver.
You have a canceled policy: If your car insurance company canceled your coverage or decided not to renew your policy (called nonrenewal), you may be considered a non-standard driver.
How much does non-standard auto insurance cost?
Non-standard car insurance is more expensive than standard coverage. But like any other car insurance coverage, the cost of a non-standard auto insurance policy will vary based on a number of factors, including your age, driving history, ZIP code, how much coverage you buy, and the make and model of your vehicle.
Here’s how much non-standard car insurance costs at a range of companies that offer non-standard coverage:
Full coverage (50/100)
Full coverage (100/300)
The easiest way to keep your car insurance rates low is to compare quotes between multiple companies. As you can see in the chart above, the same coverage can vary significantly from one company to the next. Comparing quotes can save you hundreds of dollars or more each year on your car insurance.
Policygenius has analyzed car insurance rates provided by Quadrant Information Services for every ZIP code in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C.
For full coverage policies, the following coverage limits were used:
Bodily injury liability: 50/100 or 100/300, as indicated in the article
Property damage liability: $50,000
Uninsured/underinsured motorist: 50/100
Comprehensive: $500 deductible
Collision: $500 deductible
In some cases, additional coverages were added where required by the state or insurer.
Rates for overall average rate, rates by ZIP code, and cheapest companies determined using averages for single drivers age 30, 35, and 45. Our sample vehicle was a 2017 Toyota Camry LE driven 10,000 miles per year.
Some carriers may be represented by affiliates or subsidiaries. Rates provided are a sample of insurance costs. Your actual quotes may differ.