1. Get lots of car insurance quotes."You have to do a little legwork," Camara says. "It's not going to be as easy as someone with 10 years of driving experience and a clean record." Insurance companies have varying appetites for risk, so don't give up if a couple of insurers turn you down - it's always wise to compare car insurance companies.
"You might get some refusals, but that doesn't mean you don't keep going," Gusner says. "There is competition in that market."If you have a serious conviction, you might be required to obtain a FR-44 or SR-22 form, depending on your state. Your insurer files the form with the state to prove you have coverage. Not all insurers will file the form, but many do. As you're getting quotes, verify with the companies that they offer the filing service if you need a FR-44 or SR-22. Keep in mind you'll have to pay a one-time filing fee, typically about $35, on top of the premium.
2. Consider your state's assigned risk pool as a last resort.If you can't get anyone to insure you, some states have an assigned risk pool. Insurers are assigned uninsurable customers on a round-robin basis. Maximum rates are set by the state. Don't assume you're destined for the assigned-risk pool just because you have a few tickets. "Sometimes people think they're a worse risk than they are," Camara says. Get quotes from a variety of companies before resorting to the assigned risk pool. "Let the independent insurance agents do their job," he says.
3. Do the mirror test.Decide the type and amount of insurance you want to buy, and choose the deductible before getting quotes. If you want to maintain the coverage you already have, put your current policy in front of you as a reference guide, Camara says. Shop for policies that mirror one another, so you compare quotes for the same coverage.
4. Watch out for exclusions and limitations.Some companies place tighter limits on policies for high-risk drivers. Gusner says those might include:
- Double deductibles within the first 45 days of the policy.
- No coverage for rental cars.
- Step-down liability limits for permissive drivers. Normally your liability coverage extends in full to people you give permission to use your car occasionally. With step-down provisions, the liability limits drop to the state minimum requirements for permissive drivers, even if you buy higher limits for yourself.
5. Shop for car insurance quotes at renewal time.Just because you fall into the high-risk category now doesn't mean you'll be considered a high risk forever.
Eventually violations fall off your driving record. The longer you maintain a clean driving record, the closer you get to qualifying for standard or preferred rates. Improving your credit can also help if you live in a state where insurers can consider credit history to rate drivers. Pay your bills on time, and pay off as much debt as possible.Then shop for car insurance quotes again. "It's worth checking once a year, if not every renewal period," Gusner says.