Standard auto insurance | Bankrate

If there’s one word that is most important to car insurance companies, that word would be risk. Drivers who apply for policies are assessed for their level of risk when they apply for a policy. A driver who’s more likely to file an expensive claim is considered high risk, while someone who is not likely to have an accident that requires an insurance payout is considered low risk.

For those drivers with decent credit and few dings on their driving history, standard insurance is probably what they’ll need. If you fit in this category, you probably have standard insurance, even if you’ve never heard the term. Higher-risk drivers, on the other hand, may qualify for non standard insurance. Let’s take a look at the differences, and what is involved in purchasing standard insurance for your car.

What is standard auto insurance?

Standard auto insurance refers to basic, no-frills policies that meet your state’s minimum liability coverage amounts. They are offered to drivers who are not driving high-risk cars and who are not, themselves, in high-risk categories. Most drivers have standard auto insurance, which is available from all the big-name insurance companies.

Your premium cost for your standard policy is determined by a number of factors, including your age, gender, marital status, driving history and credit rating. You may also pay more to add collision and comprehensive insurance to your policy, which gives you additional coverage in the event of an accident or other auto-related mishap.

Standard vs nonstandard insurance

The most notable characteristic of non-standard insurance vs. standard is the cost of premiums. Because those who require non-standard insurance are considered more likely to end up filing a claim, the insurer will charge more for the policy. The coverage may be exactly the same as with standard insurance, but the amount you pay in premiums increases.

Who needs standard auto insurance?

Standard insurance is appropriate for the majority of drivers on the road. Unless your circumstances are unusual, you may not have realized that your policy was standard. As long as you are not driving a high-cost performance car, are a decent driver and have met any other requirements of your insurance company, you probably have standard auto insurance.

Reasons why you might not qualify for standard insurance

You may not qualify for standard insurance and, instead, require non-standard insurance if you fall in one of the following categories:

  • You’re under the age of 25 or over 75.
  • You drive a high-cost car, such as a Tesla or Mercedes Benz, or a rare or historic car.
  • You have a history of filing claims following accidents or mishaps.
  • You have had a DUI and need your insurer to file an SR-22 for you.
  • You have a salvage title on your car.
  • Your license is from another country.
  • You’ve had a significant gap period in coverage in the past.
  • You don’t own a car but do wish to drive.

If any of these apply, or your insurer thinks you’re a risk for any other reason, you may not be able to purchase a standard policy.

How to get standard insurance

Getting standard car insurance is a fairly simple process, and if you do your homework you may save money by finding the best policy at the cheapest price for your own circumstances. Here are some steps you can follow to help you make the best decision:

  • Get a recommendation. Ask your friends and family who their standard auto insurance company is and find out if they’ve had a good experience with them. Sometimes, a referral to a great insurance agent can be all you need.
  • Spend some time at your computer. Many of the larger companies, such as Allstate or Geico, allow you to input information about yourself and your car and get a sample quote instantly.
  • Pay attention to the discount options. Most companies offer discounts for good driving, safety measures and company loyalty, and these can bring your premium costs down.
  • Take advantage of agents. If you find a company that looks good online, don’t stop there. You may be able to purchase the policy online, but it is still a good idea to talk to a local agent to ensure that your questions are answered and your policy is the best option for you.
  • Fill out an application. When applying for the policy, you’ll need to fill out an application that asks questions about you, your car and your credit. A dishonest answer can mean a denied claim, so make sure you take your time and answer everything honestly.
  • Pay your premium. Your first premium will probably be due when your app is approved. Setting up an online payment structure may earn you a discount, and make it easy to pay each month.
Insurance company Standard insurance Non-standard insurance
The General
State Farm
The Hartford

How much more does non-standard insurance cost?

The good news is that non-standard insurance allows you, as a high-risk driver, to get behind the wheel safely and legally. The bad news is that it will cost you more than a standard policy. Additionally, you may only have access to liability coverage and not the extra types of optional coverage that are available with standard coverage.

Considering the many variables that go into an auto insurance premium, it’s hard to say what your average cost might be. Rates vary considerably from state to state and from company to company. Some high risk drivers might pay more than others, too. For example, you’ll probably pay more if you’ve had a DUI than you will if you’re just driving a car with a salvage title.

The average premium for standard car insurance in the U.S. was $1,004.58 in 2017, the latest year for which data is available. But even for standard insurance, there’s much differentiation. Highest rates, for example, are in Louisiana, with an average of $1,443.72, down to the lowest, North Dakota, which averages $659.94.

Your takeaway from all this? Whether you need a standard auto insurance company or a non-standard auto insurance company, it pays to obtain multiple quotes from several insurers. You may be surprised by the range of numbers you end up with. Don’t assume that if your first quote is high, that is all that’s available on the market.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best car insurance company?

There is no one “best” car insurance company, since everyone’s circumstances are unique and the offerings of one company might not work as well for you as another. A good place to find top insurers is our listing of the best car insurance companies of 2020.

Does my new teen driver need non-standard insurance?

Perhaps, but don’t start there. Many standard insurers will offer coverage to teen drivers, though the premium costs may be high. A good place to look is with your own company — many insurers offer discounts to young drivers if the parents have their policies with the company.

Can I switch from non-standard to standard if I no longer have a reason for the non-standard coverage?

Yes, you can, but you may still pay more than a driver who has always been low-risk. For example, if you’ve had non-standard because you had several car accidents, and now you’ve gone for five years without one, insurers may consider you lower risk then before, but they will still be wary and may not give you as low a premium as they would to someone who has never had an accident.

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