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How to find cheap car insurance for bad drivers

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

If you have a less-than-stellar driving record, it’ll cost you — and not just because of traffic tickets and insurance claims. Drivers with a bad record also have to pay higher auto insurance premiums. If you have a history of accidents, you might be wondering how you can find insurance that’s more affordable. Keep reading to learn about our recommendations.

Is car insurance more expensive for bad drivers?

The long and short of it is, yes—car insurance is more expensive for bad drivers. Regardless of what violations are on your record, where you live, or what insurance provider you have your rates will be affected by poor driving habits and those with incidents on their record.

High-risk drivers include those with a history of traffic violations, but it also includes drivers who have a poor credit score, or drivers who have been caught driving without insurance. These offenses can make a driver more risky to insure, and therefore leads to more expensive insurance premiums.

How does a bad driving record affect car insurance?

Violation types

Insurance companies determine your insurance premium based on the types of violations on your record. There are many different violations that can affect your insurance, and some violations hold more weight than others. Additionally, the severity and frequency of the violations, and where they occurred, are considered when calculating your rate.

The table below includes a few of the most common traffic violations, some that affect your car insurance and others that don’t. Keep in mind that this list is not comprehensive, so it’s best to contact your insurance company to learn what violations they look for when setting your rate.

Violation Impact
SpeedingSpeeding has a high impact on your car insurance, and these violations usually stay on your record for 3-5 years.
DUI/DWIDUI/DWI charges are one of the most serious violations. They cause your rate to skyrocket, plus you will be required to get an SR-22 or FR-44. A DUI/DWI will stay on your record for at least 5 years. 
Parking ticketParking tickets are not added to your driving record, so they don’t have any impact on your car insurance rate. 
Running red lightRunning a red light will cause your rate to increase about as much as a speeding ticket. These infractions typically stay on your record for 3-5 years.
CollisionA car accident has a significant impact on your insurance, but your rate increase is dependent on a number of factors. Accidents usually stay on your record for 3 years.
Texting-while-driving ticketTexting-while-driving tickets do affect car insurance rates, but it’s not the most serious offense. The rate increase varies by state and provider. Expect a distracted driving violation to stay on your record for 2-3 years.
Reckless drivingReckless driving is another major cause of insurance rate spikes. It’s a serious offense (more serious than an accident) that stays on your record for at least 5 years. If you’re a repeat offender, you could be at risk of losing your coverage entirely.

Speeding

Speeding tickets are moderately-serious offenses when you look at it from an insurance perspective. After your first speeding ticket for example, Progressive says that your rate will increase by an average of 30%. But if it’s your second or third speeding ticket, you can expect your rate to increase by much more. Also, how fast you were driving over the speed limit has an impact on your insurance.

DUI/DWI

By a large margin DUI/DWI is one of the most serious violations you can get. It will cause your insurance rate to increase exponentially, and second offenders may lose coverage altogether. After a DUI, you’ll also need to get an SR-22 or FR-44, to prove that you carry the state’s required minimum amount of car insurance. It usually costs about $25 to add an SR-22 to your policy, but the actual rates vary by provider.

Parking ticket

The good news if you have a few parking tickets sitting in your glovebox is that they won’t impact your auto insurance whatsoever. When you get a parking ticket, the information is added to a city database to ensure you pay the fine. However, the information is not reported to your insurance company or the DMV. But keep in mind that there are still non-insurance related consequences if you fail to pay a parking ticket, such as being unable to register your car in your county.

Texting-while-driving

Texting-while-driving is considered a distracted driving offense, and it will impact your insurance, but not significantly compared to a DUI for example. Distracted driving offenses are more serious than a no-fault accident, but less serious than a speeding ticket. The actual rate increase will depend on the state and the provider. Your insurance company will also account for other factors, like whether you were speeding and texting at the same time, or if you hit another driver while you were texting.

How to get car insurance with a bad driving record

Having a bad driving record can be an insurance nightmare. You might even struggle to get approved for car insurance if you have a DUI/DWI or reckless driving charge. However, there are alternative ways that high-risk drivers can get coverage.

Look for non-standard insurance

If you’ve been denied coverage from a private insurance provider, consider looking into a high-risk insurance policy, also called non-standard insurance. Non-standard insurance is specifically for high-risk drivers, and there are a handful of insurance providers that offer this coverage. It may not be cheap, but it’s much easier to get approved. 

Take advantage of discounts

Most insurance providers offer discounts that can help policyholders lower their premium. Depending on your provider, you can qualify for savings if you have basic safety features installed in your car, take a defensive driving course, bundle your policies, pay your premium in full, or sign up for paperless billing. Contact your provider to see what discounts you are eligible for, as these can help mitigate rate increases. 

Set up a payment plan

If all else fails, and you can’t find a way to lower your rate any further, ask your insurance provider about a payment plan. It’s not always advertised, but most insurance companies will find a way to help you finance your payments. For example, you might be able to adjust your scheduled payment for the day after your paycheck gets deposited, or pay quarterly instead of monthly.

Can I find auto insurance that doesn’t check my driving record?

Unfortunately, no. Every auto insurance company will check your driving record when you apply for insurance. However, not every company will deny you coverage based on what they find. Here are some insurance providers that don’t weigh your driving record heavily to determine your eligibility:

  • The General
  • Safe Auto
  • Jupiter
  • Direct Auto
  • Foremost
  • Founders

The takeaway

  • Having a bad driving record, or being a high-risk driver, will have an impact on your insurance.
  • Certain violations will cause your rate to increase, and after a serious offense, you could potentially lose coverage altogether.
  • Drivers with a bad record can still get insurance, but it typically comes at a much higher price.

If you’re a high-risk driver, be prepared for it to impact your insurance in both cost and approval chances. Violations like a DUI/DWI come with the most dire consequences, whereas a texting-while-driving violation isn’t quite as impactful. Unless the offense is as light as a parking ticket on your windshield, be prepared to see a rate increase. 

However, there are ways that high-risk drivers can get coverage without it breaking the bank. Taking advantage of discounts, altering a payment plan or considering a non-standard policy are all ways to compensate.

Elizabeth Rivelli

Elizabeth is an insurance writer for coverage.com, where she covers insurance providers and reviews policies to help consumers find comprehensive and affordable coverage for every area of their life. She has more than three years of writing experience for top online insurance and finance publications.

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