And when do you need non-standard car insurance?
Every driver needs at least some form of car insurance – most states in the U.S. require drivers to have a minimum amount of insurance on their vehicle, and even in states that don’t explicitly require car insurance, drivers are still financially responsible for damage they cause with their cars, so car insurance is still a good idea. While buying car insurance is usually a quick and relatively simple process, securing reliable car insurance can be harder for some drivers than others.
If you’re considered a high-risk driver by insurance companies, because of your age or your driving record or another factor, you may need to find a car insurance company that can offer you a non-standard auto insurance policy. That basically means they’re insurance providers that are willing to write you a policy despite factors that would make it difficult for you to find coverage elsewhere.
But non-standard policies usually mean non-standard rates — here’s what you need to know about finding non-standard coverage and saving money on your monthly car insurance premium.
Car insurance premiums are calculated based on a number of different factors, including your age, address, driving history, the type of vehicle you drive, your credit score and more. Car insurance providers want to gauge how much of a risk you’ll be to insure, and if they consider you high-risk, you may not be offered a standard or traditional car insurance policy.
Here are some of the reasons you may be considered a high-risk driver, and might need to find affordable non-standard auto insurance:
If you have a DUI or DWI. Having one of these serious offenses on your record means you’ll likely be labeled a high-risk driver and need a non-standard policy.
If you’re a young driver. Sorry teens, being a young driver means you’ll be labeled high-risk, and will have to pay more for auto insurance, usually until you turn 25. But if you’re a safe driver, your rates will drop each year.
If you’re an older driver. Drivers over the age of 65 can also be labeled high-risk and need non-standard auto insurance.
If you have poor credit. Your credit score is also a factor in determining whether or not you’re a risk to insure. If you have a low credit score, you may be labeled a high-risk driver.
If you’ve let your coverage lapse. If you have let your car insurance lapse at all, even if it’s because you weren’t driving for a period of time, that can get you marked a high-risk driver.
If you have a spotty driving record. If you have a history of driving violations, traffic accidents or collisions, it will probably be harder for you get covered.
A nonstandard, or high-risk, auto insurance policy isn’t a specific type of car insurance policy. It just means you’re getting auto-insurance meant for high-risk drivers. It will likely cost more than a standard auto policy, and may come with some restrictions or exclusions that don’t usually apply to standard policies — there may be extra limits on the coverage when other people are driving your car, for example, or your policy may not extend to cover a rental car.
Many major insurance companies offer non-standard auto insurance policies for high-risk drivers, and the coverage may be similar to standard or preferred auto insurance policies, but it may cost significantly more.
If you’re a high risk driver in need of a non-standard policy, you may be able to find more affordable coverage from a smaller, specialty auto insurance company that specializes in writing non-standard policies. If you’re being turned down for coverage by major car insurance companies, a smaller insurer might be your best bet.
No matter your record though, you should shop around for coverage and do an auto insurance quotes comparison before you decide on a policy. The experts at Policygenius can help you compare quotes from different providers and choose a car insurance policy that’s right for your needs and your wallet.
Even if you’re labeled a high-risk driver and need a non-standard auto insurance policy, there are still ways to save on your monthly premiums, or at least bring them down over time.
Drive safely. If your driving record has gotten you labeled a high-risk driver, take pains not to add any new incidents. If you maintain a safe driving record going forward, you can eventually make it out of the high-risk tier.
Install an anti-theft device in your car. One way to help lower premiums is to install an anti-theft device in your car (assuming you don’t have one built-in).
Take a defensive driving course. Being an educated driver can usually earn you some kind of discount on your car insurance, and if you have a history of accidents, taking a defensive driving course could help lower your rates.
Take steps to improve your credit. If poor credit was one of the reasons you were categorized as a high-risk driver, work on paying down debt and improving your credit score.
Anna Swartz is a Managing Editor at Policygenius in New York City, and an expert in auto insurance. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic, writing about news and culture. Her work has appeared in The Dodo, AOL, HuffPost, Salon and Heeb.
Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.
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