Best Car Insurance for a Bad Driving Record [2023]

Last updated June 9, 2023 | By Danielle Letenyei Edited By Mindy Woodall
At-fault accidents and traffic violations on your driving record can significantly increase your insurance costs, but these car insurance companies could help you carve out some savings.

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The best car insurance companies for bad driving records offer coverage for high-risk drivers or have tracking programs or other available discounts that can help you reduce your insurance premium to a more affordable rate.

If you have a bad driving record and have struggled to get coverage from most car insurance companies, a specialized insurer like The General might be a good option. If you can get coverage from other insurance companies but your quote for insurance coverage is too expensive, you might still be able to find discounts or driving programs that can help save you some money.

Companies like GEICO and State Farm offer discounts for things like taking defensive driving courses. Companies like Progressive and Allstate give discounts for using telematics devices or tracking apps while you drive. If you don’t drive very often, pay-per-mile insurance from companies like Nationwide might also be more affordable for high-risk drivers.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • High-risk drivers struggling to find coverage might still be able to get an insurance policy from companies like The General and Travelers.
  • Military members (or military family members) with bad driving records might still get the best pricing from USAA.
  • Some companies, like GEICO and State Farm, offer discounts for completing defensive driving courses.
  • Many insurance companies, including Progressive and Allstate, offer discounts if you agree to use a tracking app or telematics device in your car.
  • People with bad driving records who don’t drive very often might save money through pay-per-mile car insurance from companies like Nationwide.

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The best car insurance companies for a bad driving record

Cost comparison

Company Best for Average annual premium Driver tracking program Driver education discount
The General High-risk drivers $3,202 N/A No
Travelers Custom coverage $1,538 IntelliDrive No
USAA Military members $1,172 SafePilot Yes
State Farm Customer service $1,336 Drive Safe & Save Yes
Progressive Foreign drivers $1,426 Snapshot No
GEICO Affordable rates $1,175 DriveEasy Yes
Allstate Teen drivers $2,006 Drivewise For teens
Nationwide Pay-per-mile insurance $1,281 SmartRide Yes

The General auto insurance: best for high-risk drivers

Pros Cons
  • Coverage available for drivers with bad driving records
  • Fast online insurance quotes
  • Premiums can be high
  • Coverage is limited
  • Discounts are limited
  • Not available in all states

If you have a collection of speeding tickets and some at-fault accidents on your record, then The General might be your best option for car insurance.

Why we like it: The General specializes in providing car insurance for drivers with poor driving histories. If your driving record is so bad that you haven’t been able to get affordable car insurance rates from other carriers, The General may still be an option.

The General also works with drivers who don’t have good credit or who have gaps in their auto insurance coverage. Both of these factors increase your car insurance costs from many insurers, and some auto insurance companies may deny you completely.

What we don’t like about it: If you have a bad driving record, you will still pay higher rates with The General than someone with a clean driving record. The General is also limited in the types of coverage it offers, and it doesn’t offer many discounts that can help you save money on your car insurance premiums.

For drivers with clean driving records, The General probably isn’t the best choice for car insurance because of limited coverage and few available discounts. It also has higher premiums than many other insurance companies. The General is a better fit for drivers who have difficulty getting coverage from other insurance companies.

Read our full The General auto insurance review.

Travelers auto insurance: best for custom coverage

Pros Cons
  • Many discounts available
  • Numerous coverage options
  • Very customizable
  • Available in all 50 states
  • Below-average claims satisfaction
  • Several discounts unavailable in California

Travelers Insurance may be a good choice if you're looking for a wide range of insurance coverage options. Travelers is one of the oldest and largest car insurance companies in the U.S. It offers many types of car insurance coverage, including ride-share coverage, accident forgiveness, and new car replacement, as well as other insurance products like travel insurance, pet insurance, and wedding insurance.

Why we like it: Travelers’ selection of discounts may help you save money on your car insurance rates. For example, if you qualify for Traveler’s IntelliDrive tracking app and enroll to track your driving for 90 days, you may get a discount. That’s especially useful if you have a bad driving record but want to demonstrate that you’ve improved your driving habits and skills in the time since past incidents.

If you use Traveler’s IntelliDrive app and it records risky driving behavior, your insurance rates could go up instead of down.

What we don’t like about it: Travelers’ downfall is in its customer service ratings. The insurer has an A grade but receives only 1.1 out of 5 stars from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Travelers also ranks below the industry average for auto claims satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power 2022 Auto Claims Satisfaction Study.

Travelers may be a good fit if you have unique car insurance needs, like ride-share coverage or loan/lease gap insurance. However, you may want to find a different insurance carrier if you don’t want to face a hassle should you have to file a claim.

Read our full Travelers auto insurance review.

USAA auto insurance: best for military members

Pros Cons
  • Rated above average for claims satisfaction in 2022 by J.D. Power
  • Available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and some locations overseas
  • Several discounts available
  • Only for military members and their families
  • Limited types of coverage

United Services Automobile Association (USAA) was formed in 1922 specifically to provide car insurance to members of the U.S. military and their families. Today, it provides car insurance for over 13 million military members and their families. USAA insurance is not available to drivers without a military connection.

Why we like it: USAA provides standard car insurance coverages, such as liability, comprehensive, collision, and uninsured/underinsured. The company doesn’t offer any specialized types of coverage, so it won’t work for people who need things like gap or ride-share coverage.

You may qualify for several discounts to help save money on car insurance premiums, including a discount for completing a defensive driving training course (which could help lower your rates if you have a bad driving record). USAA also offers the SafePilot driver tracking program, which might give you a discount for using the mobile app to track your good driving habits.

What we don’t like about it: Car insurance through USAA can be affordable compared to other insurance companies, but only military personnel and their family members can take advantage of those savings.

Read our full USAA auto insurance review.

State Farm auto insurance: best customer service

Pros Cons
  • Above industry average in overall customer satisfaction in 2022 by J.D. Power
  • Offers a driver tracking program that may reduce your rates
  • Offers ride-share insurance coverage
  • Not available in Massachusetts or Rhode Island
  • Often has high rates for high-risk drivers

State Farm is one of the largest insurance companies in the U.S. and has a good reputation for customer service. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), State Farm receives considerably fewer customer complaints than the average in the industry.

The company is also ranked above the industry average for overall customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and received an A++ credit rating from AM Best.

Why we like it: State Farm offers a Drive Safe & Save program that offers discounts for using a mobile app or telematics device in your car to track your driving habits.

Some drivers can also get more affordable State Farm rates by completing a defensive driving course. Not everyone qualifies; ask a State Farm agent if you’re eligible for this discount.

What we don’t like about it: State Farm’s premiums may be considerably higher for high-risk drivers than for someone with a clean driving record. You may or may not qualify for discounts and programs to offset that cost.

Read our full State Farm auto insurance review.

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Progressive auto insurance: best for foreign drivers

Pros Cons
  • Lets you “Name Your Price” on car insurance
  • Coverage in all states
  • Offers ride-share coverage
  • Won’t raise rates after minor accidents with damages under $500
  • Offers car insurance for foreigners
  • Low ranking for claims and overall customer satisfaction
  • Roadside assistance is an additional cost

As the third-largest insurance company in the U.S. by market share, Progressive offers a wide range of car insurance coverages. You can get standard liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage, as well as more unique coverages like ride-share, loan payoff, and custom parts coverage.

Why we like it: Progressive is one of only a few car insurance companies that offer coverage for foreign nationals visiting or moving to the U.S. If the only real mark on your driving record is that you’re not from the United States or that you have a foreign driver’s license, Progressive could be a good choice.

The company’s Name Your Price Tool enables you to customize a car insurance policy that fits your budget. The insurer also offers several discounts that can save you money.

What we don’t like about it: When it comes to servicing claims and overall customer satisfaction, Progressive ranks lower than the industry average. According to the NAIC, the insurer receives significantly more complaints than other insurance companies.

Read our full Progressive auto insurance review.

GEICO auto insurance: best for affordable rates

Pros Cons
  • Affordable rates
  • Ranks well for claim satisfaction
  • Convenient access via the GEICO mobile app
  • Not many agents available in person
  • Doesn’t offer gap insurance coverage

GEICO offers some of the industry’s most affordable rates on car insurance, along with a number of available discounts. And you can bundle your GEICO car insurance with homeowners, renters, condo, mobile home, or motorcycle insurance to save some extra money.

Why we like it: Aside from the usual discounts, GEICO’s DriveEasy tracking program could lower your rates. Similar to other driver tracking programs, DriveEasy monitors your driving through a mobile app and gives you personalized insurance rates based on your skills. If you have a bad driving record, it’s one way to show an insurer that you’ve improved your driving habits over time.

For overall customer satisfaction, GEICO ranks slightly above the industry average, according to J.D. Power’s 2022 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study.

What we don’t like about it: GEICO allows policyholders to handle most of their insurance needs through its mobile phone app, which is convenient for tech-savvy drivers. However, if you prefer to work with an insurance agent in person, GEICO may not be your best bet since the insurer has limited agents available.

Read our full GEICO auto insurance review.

Allstate auto insurance: best for teen drivers

Pros Cons
  • Ranks high for claim satisfaction
  • Available in all states
  • Offers ride-share coverage
  • Provides a number of discounts, including accident forgiveness and new car replacement
  • Customizable plans
  • Above-average number of customer complaints with the NAIC
  • Policies are only available in six-month terms

Teens are often expensive to insure — even if they don’t have at-fault accidents or driving violations on their driving records. Allstate provides the best car insurance for teen drivers under age 21 because of the discounts teens can take advantage of to save money.

Why we like it: Full-time students who maintain good grades can qualify for a discount on their car insurance. Teen drivers can also earn discounts by enrolling in a teenSMART driver safety program that teaches defensive driving skills and discourages distracted driving.

What we don’t like about it: A downside to Allstate is that the company has more complaints than the industry average, according to the NAIC. Allstate has also ranked relatively low for claims satisfaction in the past, but has since improved its standing. In 2022, J.D. Power ranked Allstate fifth for overall customer satisfaction in auto claims.

Read our full Allstate auto insurance review.

Nationwide auto insurance: best pay-per-mile insurance

Pros Cons
  • Offers pay-per-mile insurance
  • Offers driver tracking program
  • Below industry average for auto claims satisfaction
  • Slightly more complaints than other insurance companies

If you have a bad driving record but don’t drive very often, pay-per-mile insurance might be a more affordable choice than traditional car insurance policies. Nationwide is one of the few car insurance companies to offer pay-per-mile insurance.

Why we like it: With pay-per-mile insurance coverage, your premiums depend on how many miles you drive. You pay a base rate and then a variable rate based on the number of miles you drive in a month.

With SmartMiles, your premium could change each month. For example, if your base rate was $70 and the variable rate was $0.07 per mile, your monthly premium for driving 500 miles in a month would be $105. If you drove 1,000 miles the next month, your premium would be $170. But your insurance premiums could be significantly lower than average if you don’t drive very often.

Heads up
Nationwide determines your rates for pay-per-mile insurance based on the same factors it uses for traditional insurance policies. A bad driving record could still mean higher-than-average rates.

What we don’t like about it: The biggest concern with Nationwide is its poor customer satisfaction ratings. It is ranked below the industry average for claims satisfaction by J.D. Power and has slightly more customer complaints than other insurance companies, according to the NAIC.

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How to choose the best car insurance companies for bad driving records

If you are at fault in a car accident, there’s a good chance the cost of your car insurance will increase. After an at-fault accident, you become a bad driver in the eyes of most insurance companies — and your insurance premiums could go up quite a bit.

In some cases, you may be able to avoid a rate increase if your car insurance company offers accident forgiveness. With most accident forgiveness programs, you must be accident- and violation-free for at least five years to qualify.

Drivers with bad driving records may have difficulty qualifying for accident forgiveness and finding affordable rates on car insurance. The best option for people with bad driving records is to improve driving habits and skills and build up a decent driving record over time.

In the meantime, some of the best ways to show insurance providers you’ve improved and potentially save on car insurance rates are things like taking a defensive driving course or using a driver tracking device or app.

If your driving record is less than stellar, look for car insurance companies that offer discounts for:

  • Driver tracking programs: These programs typically use a mobile app or telematics device to monitor your driving habits. If you prove that you have safe driving habits, you could earn a discount on your car insurance rates.
  • Defensive driving course completion: Taking a certified defensive driving course could give you a break on the cost of your insurance premiums (and improve your driving skills).
  • Pay-per-mile insurance: If you have a bad driving record, you may be able to save money on car insurance by driving less. With pay-per-mile insurance, you only pay for the miles you drive in a given month. If you drive less, you pay less.

How long does it take for your driving record to be clean?

It depends on the infraction. Most accidents and traffic violations remain on your driving record for three to five years. However, an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) can stay on your driving record for many more years (or, for Florida drivers, forever).

A poor credit score can also make you a high-risk driver for insurers and result in higher costs for car insurance. Fortunately, improving your credit score often takes less time than clearing your driving record. You can raise your credit score in as little as a few months if you have an on-time payment history and lower your credit utilization rate by doing things like paying off outstanding debt.

FAQ about car insurance for a bad driving record

How can you beat high car insurance rates?

The best way to beat high car insurance rates is to shop around the different car insurance companies. Almost all insurance companies offer free quotes. Get several auto insurance quotes and compare the discounts and bundling options each insurer offers to help you save money. You could also consider a policy with a higher deductible.

If you have a bad driving record or low credit score, work on getting in better standing so the insurance companies don’t consider you such a high risk. This is easier to do with a bad credit score than a bad driving record.

Consider getting your car insurance from a company that caters to high-risk drivers, like The General. Although auto insurance rates may also be high with these insurers, they are probably more reasonable than if you were to go with a standard insurance company.

What does car insurance cover?

Most states require all drivers to carry a minimum level of car insurance (usually liability coverage for injuries or property damage to another driver’s vehicle). 

Liability doesn’t cover damages to your car or medical bills if you get into an accident. For that, you’d need to add collision, comprehensive, and maybe even PIP coverage to your policy.

Some insurance companies offer additional coverage options you can add to your car insurance, including roadside assistance, loan payoff coverage, or ride-share coverage if you drive for Uber or Lyft.

What is the cheapest car insurance?

It’s hard to pinpoint who offers the cheapest car insurance because how much you’ll pay depends on many factors, such as age, driving record, credit score, and residence. 

GEICO offers some of the most affordable rates for car insurance if you are a driver with a clean driving record. However, you may find lower rates with The General if you have a bad driving record. Military members can access cheap car insurance with USAA, but that option isn’t available for civilians who don’t have a family member in the armed services.

Higher coverage levels will also cost more than lower ones. If you get full coverage car insurance, it will be more expensive than basic liability insurance or only comprehensive coverage.

Bottom line

Having a bad driving record may mean you’ll have to pay more for car insurance, but it is still better than having no insurance coverage at all. Without car insurance, you could end up paying much more if you are ever involved in an accident. You also open yourself up to getting in trouble with the law because almost all states require drivers to carry at least a minimum level of car insurance.

If you have a bad driving record and insurance companies are quoting outrageous rates for coverage or denying coverage entirely, consider getting a car insurance quote from The General, which specializes in high-risk car insurance. Granted, the rates may still be high, but they may be better than what you find with other insurers.


When looking at the best car insurance companies for people with bad driving records, we limited our examination to some of the more popular insurance companies, many of which are available in most states. While many of these insurers offer similar insurance coverages and discounts, each has something that makes it stand out from competitors. We also looked at whether the insurer offered discounts for driver tracking programs and defensive driving courses, both of which could help a driver with a bad record prove their safe driving habits. We also considered ratings and rankings by the NAIC and J.D. Power in our recommendations.

For pricing, our analysis was conducted using three different auto insurance marketplaces to determine the average cost of auto insurance for each company we listed. This data is for comparative purposes only. Your actual quote may be different.

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Author Details

Danielle Letenyei Danielle Letenyei is a freelance writer living in Madison, Wisconsin, most of the time and somewhere warmer in the winter. She specializes in writing about personal finance, investing, insurance, travel, and health-related topics. When she’s not writing, she spends her time kayaking, biking, hiking, or just kicking back with a glass of wine.