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Standard vs. Nonstandard Car Insurance Explained

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

standard and nonstandard car insurance

Car insurance is a necessity for anyone who owns or operates a vehicle. It provides financial protection in the event of an accident, theft, or damage to your vehicle. However, not all car insurance policies are created equal. There are two primary categories of car insurance: standard and nonstandard. In this comprehensive guide, we'll break down the differences between standard and nonstandard car insurance, helping you make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

Table of Contents

1. Understanding Car Insurance Basics

Before we delve into the differences between standard and nonstandard car insurance, let's start with the basics. Car insurance is a legal requirement in most states, and it's designed to protect you and other drivers from the financial consequences of accidents, theft, or other unforeseen events.

Car insurance typically consists of several types of coverage, including:

  • Liability Coverage: This covers the costs of injuries and property damage to others in accidents you are responsible for.

  • Collision Coverage: This pays for damage to your vehicle resulting from a collision with another car or object.

  • Comprehensive Coverage: This covers non-collision-related damage to your car, such as theft, vandalism, or natural disasters.

  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP): This covers medical expenses for you and your passengers in case of an accident, regardless of who is at fault.

2. What is Standard Car Insurance?

Standard car insurance refers to the most common and traditional type of car insurance coverage. It is typically offered by well-established insurance companies and is tailored to a broad range of drivers who have a relatively clean driving record and a good credit history.

Key features of standard car insurance:

  • Lower Premiums: Standard car insurance generally comes with lower premium costs compared to nonstandard policies. This is because it's designed for lower-risk drivers.

  • Preferred Coverage: Standard policies often include a wide range of coverage options, allowing policyholders to customize their policies to suit their specific needs.

  • Discount Opportunities: Standard insurers often offer discounts for factors like good driving records, bundling multiple policies, and vehicle safety features.

3. What is Nonstandard Car Insurance?

Nonstandard car insurance, also known as high-risk or specialty insurance, is designed for drivers who may have difficulty obtaining coverage through standard insurance providers. Nonstandard policies are typically offered by specialized insurance companies or state-sponsored insurance programs.

Key features of nonstandard car insurance:

  • Higher Premiums: Nonstandard policies tend to come with higher premiums because they are intended for higher-risk drivers who have a history of accidents, violations, or other issues.

  • Minimum Coverage: Nonstandard policies may provide only the basic coverage required by law. They often have limited options for customization.

  • Less Favorable Terms: Nonstandard insurers may have stricter terms and conditions, higher deductibles, and fewer discounts available.

4. Key Differences Between Standard and Nonstandard Car Insurance

Now, let's explore the primary differences between standard and nonstandard car insurance:

a. Eligibility:

  • Standard Insurance: Typically available to drivers with a clean driving record, good credit, and a history of responsible behavior.

  • Nonstandard Insurance: Geared towards higher-risk drivers, including those with DUI convictions, multiple at-fault accidents, or a suspended license.

b. Premium Costs:

  • Standard Insurance: Offers lower premium rates for drivers who meet their criteria.

  • Nonstandard Insurance: Comes with higher premiums due to the increased risk associated with the policyholder.

c. Coverage Options:

  • Standard Insurance: Offers a wide range of coverage options, allowing policyholders to customize their policies to fit their needs.

  • Nonstandard Insurance: Often provides only the minimum coverage required by law, with limited customization options.

d. Discounts:

  • Standard Insurance: Provides discounts for factors such as a clean driving record, multiple policies, and vehicle safety features.

  • Nonstandard Insurance: Offers fewer opportunities for discounts, resulting in higher overall costs.

5. Factors That Determine Your Eligibility

Your eligibility for standard or nonstandard car insurance is determined by several factors, including:

  • Driving Record: A history of accidents, violations, or DUI convictions may push you into the nonstandard category.

  • Credit History: Insurers often use your credit score as a factor in determining eligibility and premiums.

  • Age: Young and inexperienced drivers, as well as elderly drivers, may be considered at higher risk.

  • Type of Vehicle: High-performance or luxury vehicles can result in higher premiums.

  • Location: Living in a high-crime or densely populated area can affect your eligibility and rates.

6. When to Consider Nonstandard Car Insurance

While standard car insurance is the preferred choice for most drivers, there are situations where nonstandard insurance is the only option or may be the best choice:

  • Serious Driving Violations: If you have a history of DUI convictions or multiple at-fault accidents, you may need nonstandard insurance.

  • License Suspension: Non-standard insurance may be the only option if your license has been suspended or revoked.

  • SR-22 Requirement: Some drivers need an SR-22 filing due to legal or financial responsibility issues, and nonstandard insurers often handle these cases.

7. Finding the Right Car Insurance for You

When choosing between standard and nonstandard car insurance, it's crucial to shop around, obtain multiple quotes, and consider the following tips:

  • Compare Quotes: Get quotes from both standard and nonstandard insurers to determine which one offers the best value for your specific situation.

  • Bundle Policies: Consider bundling your auto insurance with other insurance policies, like home or renters insurance, to potentially save on premiums.

  • Improve Your Driving Record: Work on improving your driving record to eventually qualify for standard insurance and lower premiums.

  • Credit Score Improvement: Taking steps to improve your credit score can help you qualify for more affordable coverage.


Choosing the right car insurance is a crucial decision that can greatly impact your financial security on the road. While standard car insurance is the preferred choice for most drivers, nonstandard insurance serves a vital purpose in providing coverage to higher-risk individuals. When deciding, carefully consider your driving history, financial situation, and eligibility, and don't hesitate to seek guidance from insurance professionals to ensure you make the best choice for your unique circumstances. Whether you opt for standard or nonstandard car insurance, the key is to stay protected and drive responsibly on the road.



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