High-risk drivers in Texas have some things in common: they are either inexperienced or have exhibited some type of reckless behavior behind the wheel, such as driving without car insurance or getting convicted of driving while under the influence.
To the insurance companies, all insurance is a gamble. Underwriters are betting that they can make more on your premiums than they’ll have to pay out to you in claims. The only way for them to win that bet is to set your rates at levels that optimize their odds of making a net profit.
What that means in terms of your car insurance in Texas and other states is that those who are considered high-risk drivers pay more for coverage. How much more? Rates can be in the neighborhood of 150 percent higher than what’s paid by those who aren’t considered to be high-risk drivers.
But what makes motorists fall into this pricey category? And how can you shake that designation and once again earn lower rates on your auto insurance?
Let’s break it down.
What Does It Mean to Be a High-risk Driver in Texas?
It means that, in the eyes of your insurance company, you’re likely to cost them more money than what lower-risk drivers might cost them in claims over time. This is because they think you’ll get into more at-fault accidents and otherwise rack up covered costs.
With that thought in mind, the insurance companies set coverage rates much higher than what those lower-risk drivers will pay. The standard thinking is that insurers must do that in order to at least break even on their business relationship with the driver. As a result, many high-risk motorists lose their coverage and have to shop around for insurance companies that specialize in providing coverage for higher-risk drivers.
To complicate the issue further, there’s no exact legal definition of high-risk. Each insurance company defines it their own way. So you might be considered a high-risk driver by one insurer, but not by others.
Here are 4 factors that tend to raise red flags at just about all car insurance companies.
1. DUI Convictions
Driving under the influence is considered a serious driving violation by both Texas legal authorities and all auto insurance companies. A conviction can not only result in suspension of your driving privileges, but also make it very costly to get insurance so you can stay behind the wheel.
If you receive a DUI conviction in Texas, you’ll be required to obtain an SR-22. This legal form is a bond that guarantees you have at least the required minimum liability coverage before you can drive.
A DUI conviction in Texas stays on your record for life, but insurance companies typically look back anywhere from three to five years. Eventually, you can get your license back and after a few years, find car insurance at a more normal rate as long as you don’t receive a subsequent conviction.
2. At-Fault Accidents
We all make mistakes. For that reason, a single at-fault collision isn’t likely to put you into a high-risk driver status unless the incident includes additional serious outcomes. If there were injuries or fatalities, or you were driving under the influence when the accident happened, you might immediately be labeled a high-risk driver.
Though one accident probably won’t put you in a high-risk category, it is still likely to raise your coverage rates.
3. A Reckless Driving Record
In addition to at-fault road accidents, a pattern of behavior that can lead to an accident can also earn you a high-risk tag. That can include several speeding tickets, tickets for distracted driving or an accumulation of points on your driving record.
Once again, you don’t have to worry about the effect of a single speeding ticket on your record, but in the eyes of insurance companies, repeat offenses will make you look like a dangerous driver who is likely to get into an accident one day.
4. Driving Without a Valid License
It can be tempting to get behind the wheel of your vehicle even if you don’t have a Texas driver’s license. After all, you have to get to work. You must take the kids to school. You’ve got errands to run, responsibilities that must be met, and a life to lead. But, unfortunately, driving without a valid license only compounds your legal problems in this state.
If you’re driving with a suspended license, the second offense will only prolong the period of time in which you lose your driving privileges and could lead to both fines and jail time. The penalties get even stiffer if you cause an accident with injury while driving on a suspended or revoked license.
And if you’re stopped without having obtained a Texas driver’s license in the first place, the offense can result in your first suspension. Either way, your problems have escalated and you’ll probably need to hire an attorney.
The Good News About Driving in Texas
We’ve mostly presented the bad news here. It can be a financial hardship to have to buy high-risk driver insurance. As we outlined earlier, high-risk drivers pay as much as 150 percent higher rates than other insured motorists. The good news is that the status doesn’t have to be permanent.
Every year in which a Texas driver doesn’t pile up additional penalty points for driving infractions, one point disappears from their records. And every point removed gets them closer to removing the high-risk designation.
The bottom line is that time and responsible driving habits will eventually result in your ability to earn lower rates on your auto insurance coverage in the Lone Star state. So be patient and commit to safe driving. That means observing speed limits, always wearing your seatbelt, and following all other rules and regulations of the road. It’s in your own self-interest.
For Affordable Car Insurance in Texas, Call Today
At Baja Auto Insurance, we help Texas drivers obtain the most affordable rates possible on car insurance regardless of their driving record. Call us at (800) 401-6870 or get a quick car insurance quote online. You can also enter your zip code here and find an office near you.