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Last updated on Nov 27, 2019

The Best Auto Insurance Companies for High-Risk Drivers

We found four picks that offer coverage and discounts to "riskier" drivers ​
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How We Found the Best Auto Insurance Companies for High-Risk Drivers

59 companies researched

3 insurance experts interviewed

4 top picks

Car insurance companies determine risk using a number of different factors, but it ultimately boils down to how likely they believe you’ll file a claim or get into an accident. This means that you can be considered a “risky” driver due to factors outside your control, like age, gender, and where you live, and due to events on your driving record, which could include accidents, speeding tickets, and DUI convictions.

We looked at the 59 biggest car insurance companies and determined the best four for high-risk drivers, taking into account coverage options, discounts, and other policy features. Your status as a high-risk driver means that your rate is likely to be higher than average — and could even result in being denied coverage — but there are discounts and programs that can help mitigate the higher premiums. Regardless, we always recommend gathering quotes from multiple insurance providers so you can figure out which is best for you.

The 4 Best Auto Insurance Companies for High-Risk Drivers

    The Best Auto Insurance Companies for High-Risk Drivers: Summed Up

    Progressive Allstate The Hartford Nationwide
    Our review Our review Our review Our review
    Best for
    Discounts Young drivers Seniors Usage-based insurance
    A.M. Best financial strength rating
    A+ A+ A+ A+
    J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study rating
    3/5 3/5 3/5 3/5
    Online claim filing
    24/7 support
    Get a quote Get a quote Get a quote Get a quote

    Progressive — Best Discounts


    Best Discounts
    Progressive
    Progressive


    Pros

    Easy ways to save
    Usage-based insurance option

    Cons

    Subpar claims satisfaction
    Few safety discounts

    Why we chose it

    Easy ways to save

    Progressive offers a slew of discounts targeted to those considered “high-risk” drivers. For example, teens, who typically have higher rates than other drivers, can earn savings for being 18 years old or younger. Students can also get a deduction on premiums for having good grades or going to a college far from home.

    Additionally, Progressive rewards drivers who haven’t had any tickets or accidents in the past three years. If that’s you, you could save up to 31% on your premiums. The insurance company also provides low-effort ways to save. For instance, it offers discounts for getting your car insurance quote online, for signing documents online, for forgoing mailed documents and relying on email, and for setting up autopay.

    Usage-based insurance option

    If your profile and driving history make you stereotypically “riskier” to insure (i.e., if you are young, a senior, or someone who has had lapses in car insurance coverage), we recommend looking into Progressive’s Snapshot program, which can give you a discount on your rate based on how you actually drive on the road. Snapshot uses an app on your phone or a telematic device in your car that transmits driving data back to your insurance provider. It’ll look at how often and how far you drive, how quickly you brake and accelerate, and how often you use your phone while driving (if you have the app installed).

    “When a company sees that you’re not an aggressive driver, you can see savings that are sometimes in the hundreds of dollars,” says Daniel Walker, owner of auto insurance broker FCI Agency and writer for AutoInsurance.org. “Plus, sometimes just the knowledge of having a device or app that is tracking these habits is enough to help you clean up your driving.”

    Those who don’t drive frequently or use their cars as primary transportation will likely benefit the most from using this program. Good drivers will also like this, since it’s a way to prove yourself to your insurance company. If you are someone who tends to take riskier maneuvers while driving (like accelerating and braking fast, speeding, and using your phone while driving), this program may benefit you as well, as it offers driving tips tailored to your actual driving habits — but just know that if you don’t adopt its advice, there is a chance that Progressive may raise your rate at renewal.

    Points to consider

    Subpar claims satisfaction

    In J.D. Power’s 2018 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study, which evaluated the 23 top insurance providers, Progressive didn’t do so hot. It scored three out of five, performing well below the national average and below 16 other insurance companies. This is not necessarily a deal breaker — the score is considered “about average” — but it is worth weighing Progressive’s customer service record against those of other providers, like Amica and ERIE, which earned top marks in the study.

    Few safety discounts

    While Progressive does have Snapshot, which can give you a discount based on your real-life driving habits, it doesn’t have the range of safety feature discounts that other insurance companies have. For example, many of its competitors provide discounts for buying anti-lock brakes and anti-theft devices. Others will reward you for proactively participating in driver’s education and defensive driving courses. Given that Progressive prides itself on its discounts, this seems like a glaring omission.

    Allstate — Best for Young Drivers


    Best for Young Drivers
    Allstate
    Allstate


    Pros

    Student driver discounts
    Safe driver discounts
    Valuable online educational resources

    Cons

    Mediocre customer service record
    Expensive quotes

    Why we chose it

    Student driver discounts

    Insurers traditionally consider student drivers difficult to insure, but Allstate offers plenty of discounts to offset the burden of higher premiums. For example, if a driver on your policy is under age 25, is a full-time student who gets good grades and attends school within 100 miles of where the car is garaged, and has completed the insurer’s teenSMART driver education program, Allstate will give them a break for being a “smart student.”

    Safe driver discounts

    Allstate will also reward people for being good drivers. As part of its safe driving bonus (a coverage add-on), you can get a discount on your premiums for every six months that you don’t get into an accident, as well as $100 off your deductible for every accident-free year (up to $500, or five years). Additionally, Allstate offers discounts if you have a car with safety features like anti-lock brakes or an anti-theft device.

    Valuable online educational resources

    Allstate has such a robust website that even non-customers can benefit from its content. Under its tools and resources page, you can find guides that break down each component of your auto policy, tips on how to get the best rate on your car insurance (regardless of your provider), and a calculator that will estimate your monthly car payments. Teen drivers, new drivers, and anyone wanting clarification on their insurance policy will appreciate this feature of the website. If you end up signing with Allstate, you’ll also become familiar with its online portal, where you can update coverage and deductibles on your auto policy or file a claim in the event of an accident, rather than going through your agent directly.

    Points to consider

    Mediocre customer service record

    We aren’t horrified by Allstate’s record when it comes to claims satisfaction — but we also aren’t impressed by it. In an annual survey from J.D. Power, Allstate was rated three out of five (“about average”), slightly below the industry average and therefore mediocre when compared with other big-name providers. We still recommend pulling a quote from Allstate to see how it compares with other leading car insurance companies, but make sure you weigh your priorities when it comes to customer service.

    Expensive quotes

    One of the reasons why Allstate scored low with J.D. Power was because potential customers complained that its rates were higher than those of competitors. Because quotes are tailored for each customer and account for a a number of different factors, your mileage may vary on this front. We always recommend pulling as many quotes as possible in the research process — the discounts we mention above could significantly offset your initial premium — but just know that Allstate may not be budget-friendly for everyone.

    The Hartford — Best for Seniors


    Best for Seniors
    The Hartford
    The Hartford


    Pros

    AARP-endorsed
    Coverage tailored to seniors
    Decent claims satisfaction score

    Cons

    Lacking in educational content

    Why we chose it

    AARP-endorsed

    The Hartford is best known for its partnership with AARP. Even though it serves drivers of all ages, it reserves special discounts and lifetime renewability guarantee for its AARP members aged 50 and older. The lifetime renewability guarantee means that, barring extreme circumstances, you’ll keep your coverage as long as you maintain your driving license and pay your premiums on time.

    Coverage tailored to seniors

    In the insurance industry, it’s generally understood that the younger you are, the greater of a risk you’re considered by insurance providers — and that’s why premiums are higher for young people and decrease as you age. But this graph of insurance costs is actually shaped more like a bell curve, as seniors (generally aged 65 and above) are also placed in the “high-risk” pool by insurance companies and are liable to receive higher rates than average. This understanding is why we like The Hartford.

    As an insurance company targeted to seniors, The Hartford knows what benefits will best serve its customer base. For example, The Hartford offers a program called RecoverCare, which will reimburse you for home care expenses if you are injured in a covered accident and can’t perform them yourself. This includes house cleaning, lawn maintenance, snow removal, transportation services, food preparation, dog walking, grocery delivery, taxis (if you are unable to drive), and other essential services. While this is a great service for anyone who is incapacitated after an accident (regardless of age), it’s especially important for seniors, whose health may be more delicate than that of younger customers.

    The Hartford also offers lifetime car repair assurance from its network of 1,600-plus auto repair shops, accident forgiveness (if you haven’t had an accident in the past five years), and disappearing deductible.

    Decent claims satisfaction score

    The Hartford scored three out of five (“about average”) from J.D. Power, but it did rank higher than the industry average for overall customer satisfaction. It’s not the highest honor one can get, but it does place The Hartford above our other top picks in this review.

    Points to consider

    Lacking in educational content

    The Hartford’s website has some basic learning materials, like FAQs and some video tutorials on types of car insurance, but beyond that, it expects you to already understand the basics of car insurance. In contrast, many of its competitors, like Allstate, offer robust guides, glossaries, and informational tools to help customers understand the company and car insurance as a whole. Seniors who have been driving for a while may not need this level of hand-holding, but we do appreciate when companies go out of their way to educate customers who are less experienced.

    Nationwide — Best Usage-Based Insurance


    Best Usage-Based Insurance
    Nationwide
    Nationwide


    Pros

    Usage-based insurance option
    Vanishing deductible add-on

    Cons

    Average customer service score

    Why we chose it

    Usage-based insurance option

    Like Progressive, Nationwide has insurance policy options that adjust your rate based on your driving habits. Its SmartRide program is similar to Progressive’s Snapshot, but unlike Snapshot, it is available in all states and won’t raise your car insurance rates if you’re deemed a risky driver based on the driving data it collects (the program will either give you a discount or won’t change your rate at all).

    Nationwide also rolled out a “pay-per-mile” SmartMiles program earlier this year that will change your rate based on how much you drive. This is advantageous for people who don’t use their cars often because they work from home or live in an area that’s walkable or has robust public transportation options. For now, it’s only available in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Washington, and the District of Columbia, though the program is set to be rolled out to other states.

    Nationwide SmartMiles
    Nationwide SmartRide
    Progressive Snapshot
    Best for
    Infrequent drivers
    Safe drivers
    Safe drivers
    States available
    4 (Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Washington), and Washington, D.C.*
    46 and Washington, D.C. (not available in Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Massachusetts)
    45 (not available in Alaska, California, Hawaii, North Carolina, and New York)**
    Features
    Pay-per-mile: Pay a base rate + a variable rate that changes monthly based on miles driven
    Road trip exception: Only the first 250 miles count on a single day
    Based on driving habits: Download app or install device to track driving, see personalized feedback and estimated discount every week, and then lock in final discount after the program ends. Discount applied at policy renewal.
    Based on driving habits: Download app or install device to track driving, see personalized feedback and estimated discount every week, and then lock in final discount after the program ends. Discount applied at policy renewal.
    Program length
    Month-to-month
    4-6 months
    6 months
    Estimated discount
    • N/A (based on miles driven per month)
    • Safe driving discount: Up to 10% after first renewal
    • Signup discount: 10%
    • Discount upon renewal: Up to 40%
    • Rate won’t increase if driving habits deemed risky
    • Average signup discount: $26
    • Average annual discount: $145
    • Rate may increase depending upon driving habits
    Driving factors assessed
    Miles driven
    Miles driven, hard braking, fast acceleration, nighttime driving
    Miles driven, acceleration and brake usage, phone usage while driving

    *Nationwide plans to roll out the program to other states soon.
    **Coverage varies by state.

    Vanishing deductible add-on

    Nationwide rewards you for going accident-free. Through the Vanishing Deductible coverage add-on, you can earn $100 in credits for every accident-free year (up to five years). These credits, which reach a maximum of $500, would be applied to your deductible in the event of an accident. For example, if you have a $500 deductible and your Vanishing Deductible credit stands at $400, you only have to pay $100 for repairs. And if you need to use your Vanishing Deductible, the deductible will reset to $100 instead of $0.

    Points to consider

    Average customer service score

    Nationwide was deemed “about average” by J.D. Power, and its score was just below the industry average. This means that your mileage will likely vary in terms of claims satisfaction. It’s worth gathering a quote from Nationwide, along with quotes from many other car insurance providers, but keep in mind that the service you receive may depend heavily on your assigned agent.

    How We Chose the Best Auto Insurance Companies for High-Risk Drivers

    We started by looking at the 59 biggest car insurance companies in the U.S. and only considered those that had strong financial strength ratings from three independent insurance rating agencies (A- or better from A.M. Best, A- or better from S&P Global, and Aa3 or better from Moody’s). A high rating from these agencies means that a company would be more than able to pay out your claim in the event of a car accident or other issue. We also referenced the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study and only considered providers that have minimum scores of three out of five to ensure that our readers receive a baseline level of customer service from their car insurance companies.

    We also compared basic and supplementary coverage, discounts, benefits, restrictions, and customer surveys to identify the best car insurance companies for high-risk drivers in 2019. Specifically, we looked at programs and policies that benefit people who are considered high-risk drivers (i.e., teenagers, students, seniors, and people who have accidents or major driving violations on their records), whether through discounts, educational resources, or usage-based car insurance programs that let you prove your good driving habits.

    Note: All data is accurate as of October 2019.

    High-Risk Auto Insurance FAQ

    Our Other Auto Insurance Reviews

    Auto insurance is a complex business, and you’ll want to know everything you can about your insurer. Luckily, we’ve been doing this for a while. Check out our in-depth auto insurance reviews below for more information about individual insurers.

    The Best Auto Insurance Companies by State

    Every state offers a unique set of insurance providers, and there are plenty of circumstances that affect the policies and coverage available to you. We’ve reviewed the best car insurance options in every state using a methodology similar to the one for this review on nationwide providers.

    About the Authors

    Taylor Moore

    Taylor Moore Finance & Insurance Writer

    Taylor Moore covers banking, investing, auto insurance, life insurance, homeowners insurance, and more as the Finance and Insurance Writer for Reviews.com. Her work has been published in Chicago magazine, Chicago Reader, and The Financial Diet, among other publications. After graduating from the University of Central Florida, she moved to Chicago, Illinois, where she currently lives with her cat.