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Mackay Insurance Blog

 

September 2019

High-Risk Auto Insurance: What It Is, Who Needs It & How to Get It

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Being classified as a high-risk driver can impact your life in some surprising ways. Sure, you expected your auto insurance premiums to increase after that last accident.

But what you probably didn’t expect was to have your auto insurance policy cancelled!

Unfortunately, even as the entire landscape of Ontario auto insurance is changing (read our blog post about this change here), there isn’t much that can change once you are classified as a high-risk driver.

Once your status changes to high-risk, typically your sole goal becomes finding someone, anyone, who will issue you auto insurance.

In this post, find out what you need to know about high-risk auto insurance: what it is, who needs it and how can you get it.

What Is High-Risk Auto Insurance?

As the name suggests, high-risk auto insurance is designed to provide coverage to drivers who have been deemed a “high risk” on the roadways.

What may not be so clear, however, is that different insurers are permitted to create their own set of criteria for determining who falls into the high-risk category and what type of policy they will provide, if any.

For example, some insurers may base this designation solely on your driving record. Other insurers may factor in additional information such as demographics (vehicle type, vehicle age, payment history, etc.).

So while it is always smart to shop around and gather several quotes before choosing an insurer for any type of insurance product, this makes shopping around especially important if you have been designated as a high-risk driver.

Who Needs High-Risk Auto Insurance?

A number of different factors can play into who gets designated as a high-risk driver. While every case is different, let’s look at some of the most common reasons you may be reclassified as high-risk behind the wheel.

Impaired driving

If you have a DUI (driving under the influence) charge on your driver record, even standard high-risk auto insurance may not be sufficient for your needs. DUI insurance is a special category of high-risk auto insurance that some insurers provide for this purpose.

Reckless driving

Reckless driving, which may include careless driving and stunt driving, can quickly get your driver status reclassified to high risk. A number of insurance companies have started to treat a cellphone/distracted driving ticket as a major problem, the same as careless driving.

Driving a high-risk vehicle

These two get frequently confused (for obvious reasons), but driving a high-risk vehicle is not the same as being a high-risk driver.

However, both can end up placing you in the high-risk category when it comes to auto insurance. Insurers view driving a high-risk car as similar to exhibiting high-risk driving patterns – both can end up being expensive for them if you submit a claim.

If you own an exotic car, a vintage restored car, a rare car or a car that frequently tops car thieves’ lists of “most desirable car,” you may wind up paying high-risk insurance rates.

At-fault accident

Ontario has elected to use the no-fault system of administering auto insurance claims. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be declared “at fault” by your insurer during the claims settlement.

More than 40 different accident classifications exist, including types where no one is at fault. But what is most important to know here is that you can be cited for being at fault in an auto insurance claim even though Ontario itself is a no-fault province.

Once you have been cited as at fault in a traffic incident, you can expect your premiums to increase. Different insurers have different criteria for when a driver is moved to the high-risk category for at fault accidents.

Traffic tickets

Another common reason drivers get reclassified as high risk is citation for other types of traffic incidents, including speeding and running red lights.

Other non-traffic reasons

If you are taking out an auto insurance policy for the first time, no data exists to help an insurer calculate their risk to insure you. This alone may place you temporarily in the high-risk category. 

Still another reason you might find yourself in the high-risk insurance category is if you have credit issues. Many people do not realize that allowing an insurance policy to be cancelled because you do not pay the premium will become part of your insurance record the same as having an accident does, and can put you into a high-risk category. 

How to Get High Risk Auto Insurance

Many insurers do offer high-risk auto insurance, although these types of policies are generally less well advertised than mainstream policies.

The best way to begin is to make a connection with an auto insurance broker and explain your situation.

By taking a more personal approach (versus just shopping around anonymously online), your broker can get to know you, learn the details about why you have been classified as a high-risk driver and advocate on your behalf to get you the best deal on a high-risk auto insurance policy.

This can be especially useful when you have been classified as high risk for non-traffic reasons!

As we shared in the introduction here, it can be beneficial to gather at least a few policy quotes so you can compare what each insurer has to offer. Your broker can assist with this process by reaching out to providers in their network to generate quotes on your behalf.

Get in Touch

Are you seeking high-risk auto insurance for yourself or a family member? We can help!

Reach out to us and one of our friendly Mackay Insurance brokers will be able to assist you with gathering high-risk auto insurance quotes and choosing the best policy to meet your needs.

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-888-853-5552.

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