The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission. Why trust us?

High-risk car insurance: Everything you need to know

Want cheap car insurance? Compare quotes from over 160 providers
In partnership with

Being labelled a “high-risk” driver can lead to shocking car insurance renewal rates, as premiums are likely to jump significantly.

Insurers deem some drivers more likely to claim on insurance due to circumstances, such as convictions, accidents or their chosen car. These higher-risk customers pay increased premiums to match the added likelihood of payouts.

Understanding what makes you high risk and taking steps to improve your rating can help secure cheaper car insurance. This guide explains what high-risk insurance is, why you may be classified as high risk and how you can get the best deals. Let’s examine the key aspects of high-risk car insurance.

What is high-risk insurance, and who is it for?

High-risk insurance provides mandatory cover at an increased price for motorists classified as high risk by insurers, meaning they run a higher chance of getting into accidents and making claims. Typical reasons for high-risk categorisation include:

  • Motoring convictions, such as drunk or dangerous driving, and other criminal convictions
  • Multiple at-fault accidents and claims within a set period
  • High-value, high-performance or modified vehicles
  • Limited driving experience, as with young and new drivers
  • Poor credit ratings or financial irregularities

Insurers estimate the additional risk these groups represent through statistical analysis of claims data. Anyone falling into high bands pays more – often substantially more.

Are certain cars considered high risk?

Alongside driver history, insurers classify some vehicles as prone to more accidents and thefts. Models with high performance, price or modification attract higher premiums:

  • Sports cars: powerful engines increase risk, so premiums are higher
  • High-value cars: these cars are attractive to thieves and costly to repair, making insurance pricier
  • Modified vehicles: changes such as enhanced exhausts, wheels and suspension can dramatically increase premiums
  • Cars associated with young drivers: insurers associate models such as Vauxhall Corsas and Ford Fiestas with inexperienced motorists

Insurers also use risk ratings, such as the Association of British Insurers’ group rating, which classifies cars from one (lowest risk) to 50 (highest risk). Checking your car’s group will indicate the base risk level.

High-risk insurance for convicted drivers

Drivers with motoring convictions and bans attract high premiums due to the perceived increased risk. 

Drink-driving offences result in markedly increased car insurance costs once your licence is restored. Costs reduce over time if further convictions are avoided. Dangerous driving convictions significantly push up premiums for several years. Insurers see this as predictive of future accidents. Repeat speeding offences demonstrate a disregard for road laws, hiking premiums substantially. Major licence endorsements, such as penalties for driving under the influence, require specialist insurance due to the perceived risk.

Insurers must provide coverage by law but will apply high prices to match the elevated claims risk they associate with convictions.

Is high-risk car insurance more expensive?

Yes, high premiums are typical for drivers deemed high risk due to previous claims, convictions and other markers. The increased prices aim to offset the greater chance of future payouts.

Exact figures vary widely based on the individual’s situation, but you can reasonably expect to pay at least 50 per cent more for high-risk cover after an accident or claim. 

Paying annually avoids financing fees that further raise costs. Consider higher excesses to bring premiums down. Additionally, comprehensive policies tend to penalise perceived risk less than third-party options.

Compare Car Insurance Quotes
Compare quotes from over 160 providers to find the best deal
In partnership with MoneySuperMarket

How do I get high-risk car insurance?

Most major insurers offer high-risk policies. Comparison sites enable drivers to check prices from multiple providers quickly.

Knowing your risk profile first will aid the process. Check your licence records and claims history and disclose the details fully when obtaining quotes. This will provide accurate premiums upfront.

Consider brokers, too – they have specialist expertise and can match higher-risk motorists with appropriate insurers. Discuss your situation to see if they can find you a better deal than direct insurers.

How can I get cheaper high-risk insurance?

The best way to reduce high-risk premiums is to improve your risk rating over time, but the following can also potentially lower costs:

  • Shop around extensively at each renewal – premiums vary, so check comparison sites thoroughly
  • Adjust your cover by raising excess, accepting limited mileage or removing extras
  • See if telematics (black box) insurance can help demonstrate you’re a safe driver
  • Complete advanced driving courses and give your insurer the details
  • Drive with extra care and avoid any new claims or convictions
  • Consider adding a more experienced driver as a second policyholder
  • Choose the least powerful and low insurance group car within your budget
  • Opt for the highest voluntary excess to lower your base premiums

Persistence pays off. High-risk premiums reduce the longer you go without any new incidents or claims.

High-risk car insurance FAQs

Yes, insurers associate certain postcodes with higher theft and accident rates. Living in these areas can increase your premiums and risk rating.

You can avoid a high-risk designation by driving safely within speed limits, avoiding alcohol before driving, choosing an affordable, low insurance group car, limiting policy claims and avoiding motoring convictions.

Not necessarily. Many standard insurers offer high-risk policies, but brokers can help find deals if you find it difficult to get an affordable quote.

Nick Jones

Editor in Chief

Nick Jones is a highly experienced consumer journalist and editor, who has been writing and producing content for print and online media for over 25 years.

He has worked at some of the UK’s leading publishers including Future Publishing, Highbury Entertainment, and Imagine Publishing, with publications as diverse as Homebuilding & Renovating, TechRadar, and Creative Bloq, writing and editing content for audiences whose interests include history, computing, gaming, films, and science. He’s also produced a number of podcasts in the technology, science, gaming, and true crime genres.

Nick has also enjoyed a highly successful career in content marketing, working in a variety of topics such as health, technology, and finance, with market-leading global companies including Cisco, Pfizer, Santander, and Virgin Media.

Now the Editor-in-Chief of the Independent Advisor, Nick is involved in all aspects of the site’s content, where his expertise in finance, technology, and home products informs every article that’s published on-site. He takes a hands-on approach with our VPN content, penning a number of the articles himself, and verifying that everything we publish in this topic is accurate.

Whatever the area of interest he’s worked in, Nick has always been a consumer champion, helping people find the best deals and give them the information they need to make an informed buying decision.