Advertiser Disclosure

Best Car Insurance Companies for High-Risk Drivers

March 15, 2019
At NerdWallet, we adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

The drivers considered the riskiest to insure — and often the most expensive — fall within the nonstandard insurance market. “High risk” doesn’t necessarily equate to being a bad driver. It includes a large subset of drivers, many of whom can’t get coverage from major insurers.

If you’ve been pegged as a high-risk driver, shopping around for the best rates is crucial because each insurer prices policies differently.

Best car insurance companies for high-risk drivers

Although some major insurance companies, such as Progressive, do insure high-risk drivers, many smaller insurers specialize in them.

To find the best high-risk auto insurance companies, NerdWallet considered complaint data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and A.M. Best’s financial strength ratings, which help gauge how well an insurer can pay its claims.

Insurers listed here have relatively few complaints for their size and high marks for financial strength.

Company2018 complaint ratio (median = 1)Find your rate
*Progressive does not have a subsidiary specifically for high-risk drivers, so a high-risk complaint ratio isn’t available. Progressive’s largest subsidiary has fewer complaints than the industry median.

Sources: NAIC complaint data, A.M. Best ratings as of March 13, 2019.
Geico Casualty1.03Get a quote
Kemper1.53Get a quote
The General1.99Get a quote
Bristol West2.00Get a quote
ProgressiveN/A*Get a quote

» MORE: Compare car insurance companies

Who needs high-risk auto insurance?

Many companies specialize in high-risk car insurance for nonstandard drivers, but there’s really no standard definition all insurers use. High-risk drivers may include people who:

  • Have tickets, at-fault accidents or DUI convictions.
  • Have allowed their coverage to lapse.
  • Are newly licensed.
  • Are elderly.
  • Have poor credit.
  • Own an exotic or high-powered vehicle.

High-risk auto insurers will typically cover drivers who need an SR-22, known as an FR-44 in some states, and file the form with your state’s department of motor vehicles, if you need one.

Evaluating high-risk auto insurance companies

As you compare car insurance options for high-risk drivers, look for a company that is financially strong (so you can be confident it’ll be able to pay claims) and that doesn’t have too many complaints.

Here’s what you should evaluate:

COMPLAINTS

The NAIC’s ratio is based on the number of complaints filed against an insurance company with state regulators, adjusted for market share. The national median is 1.00. The ratios listed above are all higher than that, which means these company all received a relatively high number of complaints; Geico was closest to the median. Very high complaint ratios are out of the ordinary and often indicate a company has had many unsatisfied customers relative to the value of premiums it has written during the year.

The complaints most commonly filed with nonstandard insurers in 2018 were:

  1. Delays in processing claims.
  2. Claim settlements or offers that were too low.
  3. Claim denials.

FINANCIAL STRENGTH

The financial strength of a company tells you how likely it is the insurer can pay a claim. An insurer with any of the A grades is a safe bet. A company could be unrated by A.M. Best for a variety of reasons, including that the company hasn’t requested a rating or requests not to be rated anymore.

Nonstandard car insurance companies: complaints and financial strength

Company 2018 complaint ratio (median = 1)A.M. Best financial strength rating
*Progressive does not have a subsidiary specifically for high-risk drivers, so a high-risk complaint ratio isn’t available. Progressive’s largest subsidiary has fewer complaints than the industry median.

Sources: NAIC complaint data, A.M. Best ratings as of March 13, 2019.
Geico Casualty
1.03
A++ (Superior)
Gainsco
1.42
B++ (Good)
Kemper
1.53
A- (Excellent)
Safe Auto
1.92
Not rated
The General
1.99
A (Excellent)
Bristol West
2.00
A (Excellent)
Dairyland
2.05
A+ (Superior)
Infinity
2.45
A- (Excellent)
Direct
2.85
A- (Excellent)
Alliance United
4.42
Not rated
United Automobile
5.69
Not rated
Progressive
N/A*
A+ (Superior)

Still can’t find a company to insure you?

Even after applying to several nonstandard insurance companies, you may still be denied coverage. As a last resort, you can turn to your state’s high-risk insurance pool through the Automobile Insurance Plan Service Office. To start, find your state in AIPSO’s directory.

How to reduce your auto insurance riskiness

Some factors that make drivers a high risk in the eyes of insurers, such as age, could be outside your control. Others, like owning a fancy car, may not be things you want to change. But in general, here are some tips to get out of the high-risk insurance category (and lower your rates) as soon as possible:

  • Take steps to improve your credit.
  • Become a safer driver. You can even take a driver safety course.
  • Shop for better insurance rates 3 years and 5 years after a traffic violation conviction.
  • Don’t let your coverage lapse.

Ready to shop? NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool can help you find rates.