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What is a high risk driver and how does it affect my insurance?

Unfortunately, not all of us have ideal driving records. Whether due to being involved in multiple at-fault car accidents, having numerous major violation traffic tickets, or a long lapse in insurance coverage, there are those of us who fall into the category known as high-risk drivers.

What does a high-risk driver mean in terms of car insurance coverage? Basically, a high-risk driver is considered to have a high likelihood of a major claim and is considered risky to insure. This can be due to a previous history of accidents or receiving multiple serious tickets. High-risk drivers can expect to pay far higher car insurance rates and limited access to optional coverages.

Am I a High-Risk Driver?

There are a few reasons someone may be considered a high-risk driver, including:

  • Multiple Serious Traffic Violations
    Major traffic violations include speeding over the limit by 50kmph, racing, stunting, failing to stop for a school bus, failing to remain at the scene of an accident, careless driving and driving under the influence. Some insurers also consider distracted driving as a serious traffic violation. One major infraction could land you with a huge increase in car insurance rates; multiple will likely classify you as a high-risk driver.
  • Accidents and Claims
    If you’re involved in multiple at-fault accidents or submit a lot of claims, you may be labelled as high-risk by insurers. This is why you should only submit claims when you cannot afford to pay out of pocket. Safe driving also contributes as you should be able to avoid accidents if you’re following the rules of the road and driving defensively and safely.
  • Lapses in Insurance Coverage
    As a responsible driver, you need to have an insurance policy in place that meets all rules and requirements. If you are not insured for a period of time, insurers may assume you are not driving. This means you’ll be rusty when you return and more likely to be involved in an accident.

What Can High-Risk Drivers Do to Lower Insurance Premiums?

A less-than-ideal driving record will affect your car insurance premiums. But it doesn’t have to impact them forever. Here are a few ways you can work to lower your insurance premiums:

  • Get Quotes
    Even though you fall into this category this doesn’t mean your broker shouldn’t shop around for you. Comparing insurance quotes and asking questions regarding your status and subsequent coverage possibilities is always a smart idea.You will likely be placed into the high-risk auto insurance market. There are generally fewer options for coverage and less flexibility on price.
  • Work to Improve Your Driving Record
    This may seem like a no-brainer, but becoming a better safer and more responsible driver is certain to help you when it comes to finding car insurance coverage that is affordable. Perhaps take a defensive driving course. This alone could help you find more favorable rates.
  • Try Telematics
    Telematics is also known as usage-based insurance. This technology tracks your driving behaviours such as braking, acceleration, and time of day you drive. This can ensure you get rates that reflect your driving and prove to insurers you’ve improved.

It will take time to get rid of your high-risk driver label. Major infractions and at-fault accidents can stay on your record for 5 to 10 years, depending on the insurer and their severity. Practising safe driving habits, avoiding accidents and tickets, and being patient are critical. But avoiding the label in the first place is the best course of action.

Keep in mind that insurers are only legally obligated to provide you with the minimum amount of insurance required by the province – this is usually only $200,000 of third party liability insurance. We usually recommend our clients carry $2 million of this type of coverage. You should be aware of this gap and the risk of having to cover the costs of an accident out of pocket.

It’s important to have a serious conversation with your broker if you are labelled a high-risk driver. They can explain what this means in your specific situation and what you can do about it.