Although we’re sure that you’re probably an excellent driver (you would never speed or cut someone off, would you?), and an even better parent, how are you as a teacher? Many driving school instructors have been teaching student drivers for decades, and we all know teenagers are more likely to listen to literally anyone else than take instruction from their parents.
The General provides insurance for high-risk drivers. If you have a hard time finding coverage elsewhere, just being able to obtain insurance may be a big draw. But the cost of such insurance can be steep — and we don’t just mean premiums. Insufficient coverage means that you might end up paying extra for accidents that you’re involved in, not only to cover costs for expenses like medical bills or property damage, but also because The General may not pay out as much as you need for repairs or claims.
The cheapest car insurance, period, will likely carry the minimum coverage required in your state. In most states, this is liability insurance only, which covers property damage and medical bills for others due to accidents you cause. Some states also require uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, which pay for your injuries or damage if an at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance.
If you have poor credit and don’t live in one of the three exempt states, consider requesting an extraordinary life circumstances exemption. This exemption allows you to request insurance carriers not to use your credit score when calculating your rate. This is particularly helpful if you can show that your poor credit was caused by specific circumstances beyond your control, such as serious illness, divorce, unemployment, and similar life catastrophes. The insurance company will likely ask you to provide documentary proof, so make sure you can back up your claim.
Owners of brand-new vehicles might consider getting gap coverage to protect themselves in case of an accident early on in their car ownership. New vehicles lose a huge amount of their value the moment you drive them off the dealership lot, but you still owe your lender however much you purchased the vehicle for in the first place. However, if you get into a major accident a week after buying your new car and the vehicle is totaled, standard auto insurance policies will only pay you up to the car’s current value—which will likely be much less than you owe on it. In such a situation, gap coverage will “fill in the gap” between the car’s current value and how much you still owe on it.
There are a million things to worry about when you’re involved in an accident. Whether or not your insurance company will be able to pay your claim shouldn’t be one of them. A strong financial rating is the best way to guarantee your provider can pay what you need, when you need it, so we made sure all of our picks had strong ratings based on the Insurance Information Institute’s (III) guidelines.
If you’re drawn to The General because of a poor driving record or credit score, we recommend looking at Progressive first. While Progressive scores lower in financial strength and claims satisfaction than the top insurers in the industry, it offers unique discounts and supplemental coverage options specifically tailored for high-risk drivers, including a rare discount for drivers under 18. Because of its rare coverage options and financial strength ratings, Progressive is likely a better option than The General for most drivers.
Professional and organizational discounts: If you belong to certain organizations, such as the AARP, or are a member of certain professions, you may be eligible for a discount. Check with your employer, professional organization, and any other group with which you enjoy membership; you can also ask the insurance company if any such discount is available.
State legislators set limits on how much a company can increase your rates after a crash. Our hypothetical accident resulted in only $2,000 worth of damage. That caused average annual rates to spike by $1,000 or more in some states, while others jumped by far less. One thing’s for sure: Your rates will definitely increase after an at-fault accident, so be sure to compare car insurance rates if you have one on record.
Hi Eric – What you’ve seen is not an unusual situation. A company that’s good in one state isn’t in another. Liberty Mutual worked for you in California, but not in Florida. This is why it’s not possible to say one company is the best. That will vary by state and by your own personal profile. That’s why we produce these “10 Best” lists, to give you companies to investigate.
Cash in on major life changes. Certain life events could translate to cheaper car insurance, so shop for quotes whenever something major changes in your life. For instance, many companies offer a lower rate for married couples or domestic partners. Or perhaps you moved to a suburb with lower accident and crime rates. If your risk for accidents goes down, your rates just might, too.
Another factor to consider is how often you drive. If you work from home and only drive a few miles once a week to run your errands, you’re far less likely to end up in an accident than someone who has a 50-mile-a-day commute. Rush-hour driving is also riskier than driving at less peak times because you’re dealing with large numbers of often impatient drivers who may be willing to take risks in order to get themselves to work on time. In short, the more you drive, the more insurance coverage you’re likely to need.