The "high risk" label is given to drivers who have too many negative items on their driving records, whether those items are too many tickets and violations, traffic accidents, convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or other offenses. Having items like these on a driving record can indicate a history of risk-taking to your insurer. Insurers are in theory more likely to have to pay out on a high-risk insurance policy, so high-risk policies tend to come with a larger price tag.
Some drivers with a large number of serious violations on record will appear to be too much of a liability for most insurers and won’t be able to get coverage on their own directly from any insurer in the state. This only happens to a small percentage of drivers, but when it does, those drivers may have to get coverage through state-run assigned-risk plans. In these programs, drivers apply for coverage through the state, and the state assigns a particular insurer to cover them. The programs are set up so that every insurer in the state has to take on its fair share of high-risk drivers. Unfortunately for drivers in these programs, the premiums tend to be higher than if they had secured coverage on the voluntary market.
The majority of drivers will not have to get coverage through an assigned-risk program, however. Most states have a significant number of insurers that are not just willing to write high-risk insurance policies but actually target drivers categorized as high risk. The only way high-risk drivers can find those companies is by shopping around and comparing quotes from multiple providers.
Enrollment in the residual market is relatively low. The residual market, which helps high-risk drivers get coverage after they couldn’t find a policy on their own, accounts for less than 1% of total annual premiums written by insurers.