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Car insurance for high-risk drivers in California

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In California, your driving past can influence your insurance future. To calculate your rate, auto insurers look at multiple personal factors, one of the most important being your motor vehicle record. Moving violations like an at-fault accident, speeding ticket conviction, DUI conviction or reckless driving can deem you a high-risk driver. An insurance lapse can also land you in the high-risk category, which means your insurer sees you as more likely to file a future claim and may charge you a higher rate to compensate for the added risk. Car insurance for high-risk drivers in California almost always costs more than the state average, but Bankrate can help you lock in a good deal. We’ve collected average California rates for a variety of different high-risk driving profiles to help drivers in the Golden State shop smarter for a policy.

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Rates for high-risk car insurance in California

Depending on the incident, a high-risk driver in California could pay anywhere between 30 and 140 percent more for their car insurance than a driver with a clean record would. However, the exact surcharge will vary.

For example, you might be considered a high-risk driver if you have received a speeding ticket conviction, but a driver with multiple speeding tickets (or one charged with a greater excess of speed above the limit) may pay much more than you. For this reason, it’s helpful for high-risk drivers in California looking for car insurance to obtain multiple quotes from different insurers to find the best rate.

Bankrate collected rates from Quadrant Information Services for multiple insurance companies to help drivers see average rate impacts following different high-risk incidents.

Rates after a speeding ticket

After receiving a single speeding ticket conviction, California high-risk auto insurance costs increase by an average of 36 percent, according to quoted annual premiums from Quadrant Information Services. In addition to a higher insurance premium, high-risk drivers will also typically have to pay several fees and fines based on how much the limit was exceeded. The cost of a speeding ticket in California can range widely, depending on how fast you were driving and whether or not any injuries resulted from the speeding incident.

In the table below, we have included the average cost of car insurance before and after a single speeding ticket conviction. However, keep in mind that if you have more than one speeding ticket on your record, your high-risk car insurance premium will likely be more expensive than the average rates listed below. The following auto insurance quotes may be useful for the sake of comparison while you shop for a policy.

California average annual full coverage premium

Car insurance company Rate before a speeding ticket conviction Rate after a speeding ticket conviction % increase
Wawanesa $1,612 $2,291 42%
Mercury $1,817 $2,398 32%
Geico $1,841 $2,565 39%

Rates after an at-fault accident

After an at-fault collision, you will almost always see a sharp increase in your high-risk auto insurance premium. Accident forgiveness would usually come in handy for this exact scenario, but California auto insurers are not allowed to offer it. In California, the average rate increase after an at-fault accident may be at least 48 percent, which is substantial for being on the low end. Depending on your coverage limits, you might also be left responsible for covering the other driver’s losses out of pocket.

The table below breaks down the average cost of high-risk auto insurance based on accident history. However, some car insurance companies charge even higher rates if you have been involved in more than one accident.

California average annual full coverage premium

Car insurance company Rate before an at-fault accident Rate after an at-fault accident % increase
Wawanesa $1,612 $2,420 50%
Mercury $1,817 $3,147 73%
Geico $1,841 $2,722 48%

Rates after a DUI

Getting convicted of a DUI will almost always cause insurers to view you as a high-risk driver. In California, the average rate increase after a DUI is 140 percent. Rates may be even higher, depending on the number of DUI convictions on your record. Getting a DUI in California can also lead to other consequences, including hefty fines, jail time, license suspension and mandatory alcohol safety programs.

Many drivers with a DUI are required to carry an SR-22, which is a certificate that verifies you carry the minimum amount of insurance required in the state. You might also find that your insurance carrier will not allow you to renew your policy after receiving a DUI, which means you would have to seek coverage from a high-risk insurer. However, coverage from other insurance companies is not guaranteed after a DUI, so it is recommended to speak with an agent to determine eligibility. The table below includes the average cost of high-risk auto insurance for drivers, with and without a DUI conviction applied:

California average annual full coverage premium

Car insurance company Rate before a DUI conviction Rate after a DUI conviction % increase
Wawanesa $1,612 $2,882 79%
Mercury $1,841 $2,998 63%
Geico $1,817 $4,008 121%

Rate after adding a teen driver

Another factor that can result in high-risk insurance premiums is age. Teen drivers who are newly licensed are generally considered high-risk because they are inexperienced and are more likely to get into accidents than older, more experienced drivers. Because of this, adding a teen driver to your insurance policy typically results in steep premium increases.

If you are a parent who is adding a teen driver to your policy, you typically won’t need a special high-risk insurance policy. However, your rate will most likely increase after adding them, due to the associated risk to insurers. As your teen driver approaches their early 20s, your rate should start to decrease.

Here is a look at the average cost of car insurance with and without a 16-year-old driver added to their parents’ policy policy.

Average annual full coverage premiums for policyholders:

Car insurance company Rate without a 16-year-old insured Rate with a 16-year-old insured
Wawanesa $1,612 $3,243
Mercury $1,841 $3,383
Geico $1,817 $4,599

*Rate reflects the total average annual premium for a 16-year-old driver added to their married parents’ policy

Who is a high-risk driver?

High-risk drivers come in all ages and experience levels. Bankrate defines a high-risk driver as one with at least one speeding ticket conviction, at-fault accident, or DUI conviction on their driving record. Most car insurance companies in California also consider drivers with a DUI conviction or with more than one accident or moving violation to be high-risk.

California’s points system for violations is one of the stricter in the country. Many states may suspend or revoke your license after accumulating six points. California could suspend your license after getting four points in one year. Considering that one at-fault crash may cost you three points for driver negligence, your license could be suspended after a second accident or ticket.

How to lower your rate if you’re a high-risk driver

High-risk drivers may have limited carrier options and higher premiums. However, once you find a carrier willing to write you a policy, there are a few steps you can take to help lower your premium:

  • Shop around to find the cheapest car insurance company and most affordable policy based on your current needs.
  • Take advantage of as many discounts as possible, like low mileage, student driver or multi-line discounts.
  • Complete an approved, eight-hour traffic school course to keep points off your driving record.
  • Increase your deductible to a higher amount that you can reasonably afford.
  • Maintain a clean driving record.

Saving even as little as 5-10 percent on your vehicle insurance by utilizing discounts could translate to hundreds of dollars per year.

Frequently asked questions

    • Although it’s typically referred to as SR-22 insurance, an SR-22 isn’t an insurance policy. Rather, it is a certificate your auto insurer files on your behalf with your state’s DMV before your suspended license can be reinstated. It is a certificate of financial responsibility that confirms you carry the minimum amount of car insurance required to drive in California.
    • All California drivers are required to carry liability insurance with minimums of at least $15,000 in bodily injury and death per person, $30,000 total per accident and $5,000 in property damage. Some high-risk drivers may need their insurers to file an SR-22 form on their behalf, but this is a certificate — not a form of insurance.
    • California assigns zero to three points if you’re a negligent operator (responsible for a car accident). The DMV may suspend or revoke your accident after you accumulate four points on your record in 12 months, six points within 24 months or eight points within 36 months.

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2023 rates for ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
  • $500 collision deductible
  • $500 comprehensive deductible

To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverages that meet each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2021 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.

Incidents: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the following incidents applied: clean record (base), at-fault accident, single speeding ticket and single DUI conviction.

Age: Rates were calculated for 16-year-old drivers based on married male and female drivers insured together with a 16-year-old driver added to their policy. Age is not a contributing rating factor in Hawaii and Massachusetts due to state regulations.

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