UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020
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If you have been involved in an auto accident or two, received a few speeding tickets or even gotten pulled over with too much alcohol in your bloodstream, your car insurance rates may go up considerably. The point is that when your driving history reflects poor driving judgment, you could find yourself in a high risk insurance group where the only insurance available is through non-standard insurers, also called high risk insurance companies.
Another reason you may need high risk insurance would be if you had been ordered by the court or DMV to carry an SR-22 certificate of financial responsibility. In this case, you would still be required to carry the state minimum insurance or better, plus the added cost of the SR-22, for the length of time you are required to have it. It is not unusual for a judge to order a person to carry SR-22 coverage for as much as 5 years, which would end up costing you a lot for high risk coverage.
In some states, you can have a single traffic infraction removed from your driving record by attending driver improvement school. If you use this method you may be able to avoid the cost of high-risk insurance. You would still have to pay for the cost of the course, but the long term benefits would be higher. Bear in mind that even where this option is available, it can only be used once.
Non-standard insurance is not available from all insurers. Some companies will have rates available for high risk drivers, but others may not cover such drivers at all. As the risk of insuring you increases, fewer and fewer companies will consider the risk worthwhile, and you will be referred to an insurance company which specializes in high risk coverage.
Once you have secured your high risk car insurance, it will be time to start bringing the cost of insurance down again. Follow the rules of the road, monitor your credit score, and look for other discounts that may be available, including discounts for safety equipment inside the car like airbags and outside the car like electronic stability control. The more discounts you are able to qualify for, the lower your rates will be, offsetting the higher cost of high risk coverage.