High-risk auto insurance in California will not be cheap, as premiums for high-risk policies in the state average $3,034 per year. That’s about 78% more than the average cost of car insurance in California overall. Nevertheless, high-risk drivers in California should still be able to find suitable car insurance options after comparison shopping.
Drivers defined as high-risk typically have a history of serious driving violations and face higher rates because they are statistically more likely to cost insurers more than the average driver. For this reason, many insurance companies won’t even sell coverage to high-risk drivers. However, other insurers specialize in high-risk coverage, so drivers with a checkered record have options.
The best high-risk auto insurance companies in California are Wawanesa, State Farm, Esurance because they are financially strong and have few customer complaints. Deficiencies in either area could be a sign you’ll have a hard time getting payouts if you need to file a claim. Some of the most common complaints about car insurance companies concern denials, low settlements, and delays in processing claims. These companies also tend to be among the most affordable in California for high-risk drivers, but you should always shop around to compare rates.
|Company ||Wawanesa ||State Farm ||Esurance |
|Average Driver Annual Premium ||$1,169 ||$1,716 ||$1,722 |
|Average High-Risk Annual Premium ||$2,081 ||$3,054 ||$3,065 |
|Complaint Ratio (NAIC) ||1.79 ||2.58 ||3.16 |
|Strength Rating (AM Best) ||A ||A++ ||A+ |
Pro Tip: Look for an insurer with at least an “A” grade for financial stability and a complaint score close to or below the national median of 1.
How much more high-risk drivers pay for auto insurance in California depends on why they are classified as high-risk. Your combination of risk factors determines how much more you’ll pay for high-risk auto insurance in California. Car insurance companies decide if you are a high-risk driver based heavily on driving factors like accidents, speeding tickets, reckless driving, racing, and DUI/DWI.
For example, California drivers with two accidents in their claims history see their rates jump by an average of 158%. If you’re convicted of a DUI, you’ll see an increase of about 103%. And if you’re caught going more than 20 MPH over the speed limit, expect your rates to go up by about 28%, on average.
Non-driving factors like your age, location, insurance history, credit score, and vehicle can also affect how much more high-risk auto insurance costs in California. If you get caught driving without insurance, the coverage lapse alone could raise your premium by about 36%. If you have no credit, you can expect to pay about 0% more than drivers with excellent scores.
In other words, your individual combination of risk factors determines how much more you specifically will pay for high-risk auto insurance in California.
- Comparison shop. The best way to get affordable car insurance is to compare rates from at least three insurance companies. In California, the most expensive policies are around $2,033, and the least expensive cost about $942. That means drivers could save as much as $1,091 simply by comparing quotes. At a minimum, check rates three and five years after a traffic violation to get a lower rate when it falls off your record.
- Avoid filing claims. Claims can dramatically increase your premium. In California, the average collision claim raised rates $1,351. Before filing a claim, calculate whether the cost of the damage exceeds your deductible plus future premium surcharges.
- Have a practical car or go car-free. Some vehicles are more expensive to insure than others. Your car’s make, model, year, safety features, and price tag all impact how much you’ll pay. Consider a practical vehicle that’s more affordable to insure if you’re already high-risk. If the premium is still more than you can afford, you could switch to non-owner car insurance or go car-free for a while.
- Drive safely. The easiest way to avoid traffic violations is to obey traffic laws and drive safely. You can’t undo the past, but you can make good choices now. Focus on keeping a clean driving record and consider a driver safety course to potentially lower your premiums right away.
If you’ve been denied coverage from traditional insurers, look into California’s assigned risk program. With assigned risk insurance, drivers who cannot get accepted normally are assigned to insurance companies that collectively pool together to take the risk of insuring them. It’s a last resort, and you’ll have to prove that you’ve tried and failed to get insurance multiple times to qualify.
In the end, the need for high-risk car insurance is a temporary situation. Serious violations like DUIs are on your record for 10 years in California, but most violations fall off your record within three to five years. No matter how long it takes, your high-risk status will eventually change with time if you can prove you’re a safe and responsible driver again.
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