Best Cheap Car Insurance For Those With a Bad Driving Record

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The cheapest car insurance for drivers with a bad record will depend on what what types of traffic violations they have been convicted of or accidents they have been in. However, we found that GEICO or Progressive typically offered bad drivers the cheapest rates. These two companies quoted rates up to 40% less than the average, though the potential savings differs based on what incidents were on the driving record we considered.

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies for Bad Drivers

Across the seven different “bad driver” profiles that we surveyed, we found that going with the cheapest car insurance company could represent a savings of up to 40% compared to the average. Since rates vary significantly by incident, the best way for those with a bad driving record to make sure you get the lowest car insurance rates is to gather rates from multiple insurers.

Type of violation/accident

Cheapest insurerCheapest insurer annual costAverage annual costSavings
SpeedingGEICO$2,186$2,74820%
Running a stop signGEICO$2,188$2,75821%
RacingGEICO$2,265$2,84820%
Reckless drivingGEICO$2,265$2,84820%
Careless drivingGEICO$2,188$2,93325%
DUIProgressive$2,038$3,39040%
At-fault accidentProgressive$2,428$3,52631%

Quotes represent the annual cost of a full coverage auto insurance policy for a driver living in Jacksonville, Florida. Traffic violations and accidents occurred within the last year.

For drivers that have been in at-fault accident, we recommend Progressive, which quoted an annual rate $1,044 less than the average across the insurers we surveyed. We also found that Progressive offered the cheapest auto insurance rates for drivers that had a DUI. For all of the other traffic violations we considered, we found the cheapest rates were provided by GEICO, at 20%-25% less than the average.

Comparing the cheapest auto insurance companies for a driver with an at fault accident.

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How Does a Bad Driving Record Affect Car Insurance?

Insurance companies charge higher rates to drivers that they expect will cost them more through insurance payouts—either for damages inflicted on other motorists that they are liable for, or to pay for vehicle repairs or replacement that result from a collision insurance claim. According to the models that insurance companies use to set rates, drivers that have previous car accidents and violations on their records are more likely to be in future accidents. They are, therefore, charged higher car insurance rates due to the increased risk they represent to the insurers.

Not all traffic violations and accidents are equal; typically the more severe the incident, the greater the car insurance cost increase. Minor accidents and violations—speeding or running a stop sign—are likely to only cause a relatively minor increase in premiums of around 14%. However, if you are convicted of a serious traffic violation—a DUI for example—you could see a difference in rates of 41%.

Type of violation/accident

Average annual costIncrease in rates% increase
None$2,411$00%
Speeding$2,748$33714%
Running a stop sign$2,758$34814%
Racing$2,848$43718%
Reckless driving$2,848$43718%
Careless driving$2,933$52222%
DUI$3,390$97941%

A bad driving history won't impact your auto insurance rates forever. Insurers typically only factor in accidents and traffic violations from the past three years. This means that incidents that occurred more than three years ago are unlikely to have any effect on your car insurance rates and may not need to be reported to your insurer. However, there is an exception when it comes to DUI convictions, which have the potential to affect you car insurance rates for up to five years.

How to Get Car Insurance With a Bad Driving Record

To get affordable car insurance rates, individuals with a bad driving record may have to spend more time and effort shopping for auto insurance. This is because insurance companies might quote these individuals exorbitant rates for their auto coverage. Furthermore, some insurers may not even offer coverage to high-risk drivers, such as those that require SR-22 insurance.

SR-22 (or FR-44 in some states) insurance refers to a special type of policy for individuals with bad driving records that requires an insurer to file a certificate of financial responsibility that confirms you have the required amount of liability coverage. Usually, this is only necessary for individuals with pretty serious convictions on their driving records—such as DUIs—and those that have had their driver's license suspended.

If you require a SR-22 form to be filed on your behalf, major insurers—such as Farmers, State Farm and Allstate—might not be an option, as they may choose to not to offer you coverage because of your bad driving record. Instead you may have to consider nonstandard auto insurance companies that specialize in offering coverage to high-risk drivers.

Some examples of nonstandard car insurance companies include Direct General Insurance, The General Insurance and Titan Insurance. However—since the impact of a bad driving record on your car insurance rates changes over time—you should shop around for insurance regularly to make sure you are getting the lowest rates.

Bailey is a Research Analyst at ValuePenguin, covering insurance. He graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science. Bailey's analysis has been featured by CNBC, the Houston Chronicle and the National Transportation Bureau Safety Board.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.