High-Risk Insurance: Drivers Beware!

One of the most dreaded insurance events is having to pay for high-risk insurance. The goal of our insurance broker team is always to get clients back into the standard auto insurance category as soon as possible.

Anyone who’s been designated as a high-risk driver can attest to the fact it can be an expensive and inconvenient experience. The good news is that high-risk drivers are not destined to remain such forever and there are things they can do to help themselves return to good graces of insurance companies.

What is High-Risk Auto Insurance?

High-risk auto insurance is a different market that provides coverage for drivers who have been deemed high risk by an insurance company. Simply put, high-risk drivers are identified as having a greater likelihood than other drivers of being in an at-fault accident.

Different insurance companies have different criteria for what makes a driver eligible for either regular or high risk (also called non-standard) auto insurance. Some deciding factors are related to your driving history and others are actually non-driving related.

If you need high risk insurance, it means that insurance providers see you as a riskier driver and are either unwilling to accept the risk of ensuring you or will only ensure you at a significantly higher cost.

The Extra Cost

High-risk auto insurance costs a lot more than standard insurance. This is based on statistics that show that drivers who miss payments, have driving infractions and/or suspensions are more likely to make a claim on their policy.

Expect to pay at least 25% more for high-risk Insurance in Ontario.  To get the best price and coverage, work with an experience broker with access to multiple high-risk insurance providers.

Check Your Policy

Always ask your broker to help you understand your policy. Never rely on your insurance company to inform you that you’ve been moved in or out of the high-risk category. Some high-risk drivers may not even be aware they are paying high risk insurance premiums. So always be sure to check your status and understand your policy.

How Does a Driver Get Labelled as High Risk?

The definition of high-risk driving varies slightly depending on insurance providers, but in general a high-risk driver has had:

  • Accidents
  • Traffic tickets
  • Missed payments
  • A major driving conviction

Insurances companies take many factors into consideration when deciding what category you should be in. It’s always a combination of elements that lands you in high-risk insurance.

High risk driving is not based directly on demerit points. However the driving infractions that resulted in those demerit points and/or license suspension (due to an accumulation of too many demerit points) impact your auto insurance category.

Only convictions affect the cost of your insurance. In Ontario, payment of a traffic ticket is considered an admission of guilt and the infraction will appear on your driving record. If you fight a traffic ticket in court and win then your insurance rates will not rise.

Multiple Tickets and Traffic Violations

If you have accumulated multiple speeding tickets or other driving convictions in the last three years, this can land you in the high risk category.

Ask your insurance broker to give you the dates of all your violations.  Understanding how long you will be considered a high-risk driver will allow you to switch to a cheaper insurance policy as soon as possible.

Impaired Driving

An impaired driving conviction will remain on your driving record for three years and you will be considered high risk during this time.

At-Fault Accidents

If you had multiple claims because of at-fault accidents you may be considered high risk. For example two at-fault accidents in the previous ten years will often qualify you for the high-risk category.

Vehicle Choice

Did you know that the vehicle you drive could actually move you into the high-risk insurance category? It’s true! If you own an exotic car, expensive sports car, or even a vehicle that is often the target of thieves then you may be required to purchase high-risk auto insurance.

Lapsed Coverage

Your auto insurance policy may be cancelled if you have failed to make payments. When you try to get a new policy, you may be considered high-risk if you have a lapsed policy for non-payment in combination with another factor such as an accident or tickets.

You’ve Been Labeled a High-Risk Driver. Now What?

Once you are deemed a high-risk driver, your current insurance provider may cancel your current policy or refuse to renew your policy. You will need to obtain a new policy. These are often only available from a non-standard insurance provider who specializes in high-risk drivers.

Driving without insurance is illegal. If you are found driving without insurance it is considered a serious offence with a hefty fine. It also guarantees that you remain in the high-risk driving category for much longer.

Get Back to Standard Auto Insurance

Our goal is always to help high-risk driving clients to transition back to regular standard auto insurance. While it can be discouraging to be placed in the high-risk category, we always reassure clients the being deemed a high-risk driver does not mean you will always be deemed as high-risk.

On average, previous infractions will affect your insurance premiums from three years from the date of your conviction. More serious convictions can affect your insurance for up to five years.

Climb Out of High-Risk Insurance:

  • Practice safe driving.
  • Maintain a pristine driving record.
  • Pay insurance bills on-time.

Clean Up Your Driving Record

  • Avoid aggressive driving and road rage.
  • Leave plenty of time for your commute.
  • Use cruise control when appropriate to stay within the speed limit.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Consider Defensive Driving School.

Stick To a Policy

Do not allow your insurance to lapse! Otherwise, you will remain in the high-risk category for longer. Also, it is in your best interest to keep the same insurance policy for at least six months. Switching too often will actually lengthen the overall time you will spend in this costly category. Once insurance providers see that you have six months of continuous coverage then you may qualify for better rates.

Pay Your Bill on Time

Paying your bill on time every month reflects responsibility and can be an integral part of climbing out of a high-risk category, especially if missed payments landed you as high risk in the first place.

Exclude High-Risk Drivers From Shared Policies

Any driver that lives in your household will be listed as an occasional driver on your policy; however, a high-risk driver cannot be listed on your policy unless you change your entire policy to a high risk market.

If a family member who is listed on your policy as an occasional driver has been deemed a high-risk driver it may be best to formally exclude that driver from your policy. (You and high-risk driver sign a form promising that he or she will never drive your vehicle.)

Have more questions? We understand that being labeled as a high-risk driver can be a major inconvenience and a source of stress. We work with companies who specialize in high-risk car insurance and can help you get immediate coverage and help you work your way back into the standard, more affordable insurance category. Call us at 613-932-0083 or e-mail us at info@leomartininsurance.com.

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