What Is a High-Risk Car Insurance Pool?

man selecting from a high risk car insurance pool

If you've been cited or arrested for reckless driving, DUI/DWI or other risky behavior behind the wheel, you may find it much harder to get auto insurance. Rack up enough offenses, and you may not be able to get insured at all. If you're unable to find an insurer willing to work with you, you may turn to a high-risk car insurance pool as a last resort to get legally required car insurance.

What Are High-Risk Car Insurance Pools?

Most states require drivers to have a minimum level of insurance coverage or otherwise assume financial responsibility for damages caused while driving. To insure even high-risk drivers, states use high-risk pools (also called "assigned-risk pools") that provide insurance coverage to nearly any driver, but at a much higher cost. Insurance companies agree to join these pools and insure any driver the state assigns to them.

Premiums in the high-risk pool are higher than those for standard car insurance, but states cap how much insurers can charge and all insurers in an assigned-risk pool must charge the same premiums. Rules differ in every state, so it's a good idea to learn more about your state's assigned risk pool through your state's department of insurance.

How Do You End Up in a High-Risk Insurance Pool?

A history of unsafe driving can land you in the high-risk insurance pool. Lots of moving violations, multiple accidents, a DUI/DWI, or a suspended or revoked license make carriers reluctant to insure you. Other risk factors include:

  • Inexperience: Drivers with less experience are riskier to insure.
  • Insurance history: Gaps in your insurance history, a habit of missing premium payments, or a history of insurance claims make you risky to insure.
  • High-performance vehicle: High-performance cars cost more to repair or replace and could inspire unsafe driving behavior such as racing or speeding.
  • Location: Cars in a high-crime area are at greater risk of theft or vandalism.

One or two of these factors generally won't put you in the high-risk pool, but risk factors can compound and make you harder to insure. For example, a 22-year-old man with a Porsche 911, an at-fault accident and a DUI on his record is more likely to land in the high-risk pool than a 55-year-old man with the same car and a clean driving record.

How Much Does Insurance Cost in a High-Risk Insurance Pool?

The cost of high-risk auto insurance varies depending on factors such as your driving record, age, vehicle and coverage. According to data from auto insurance marketplace Gabi®, a part of Experian, the average annual U.S. car insurance premium in 2021 was $1,951.

Using one risk factor as an example, a DUI conviction increases auto insurance premiums by an average of 80%, according to a survey commissioned by Insurance.com, and could increase your premium by up to 371% depending on your state.

What if you can't afford coverage in the high-risk pool? Driving without the minimum required insurance is illegal and could lead to thousands of dollars in fines, having your driver's license or registration suspended or revoked, having your car impounded or even jail time.

How Can You Get Out of the High-Risk Insurance Pool?

Getting out of the high-risk insurance pool is largely a waiting game. Eventually, moving violations, accidents, DUI/DWIs and other negative marks come off your driving record, making it easier to get insurance. How long you'll wait depends on your state laws. A DUI/DWI typically drops off your record within five to 10 years, but in Florida it stays there for 75 years, and in Alaska it never drops off.

In the meantime, shorten your stint in the high-risk pool by driving safely and avoiding moving violations, DUIs/DWIs or accidents. Taking a driver safety course and buying a safer vehicle can also speed things along.

How Does Your Credit Affect Your Auto Insurance Rates?

Insurance providers in many states use credit-based insurance scores when determining insurance premiums. These scores predict the likelihood you'll file a claim or miss a payment. While they differ from regular credit scores, they're affected by many of the same factors, so improving your credit could boost your credit-based insurance score, which could lower your premiums. Check your credit report and credit score to see where you stand. Paying bills on time, keeping credit card balances low, and not applying for new credit can all help improve your credit.