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What Affects Auto Premiums

Driver Classifications

Insurers separate drivers into categories called classifications. 

Drivers are classified according to different characteristics such as:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Driving record
  • Type of vehicle
  • Gaps or lapses in insurance coverage
  • Amount of coverage purchased
  • Annual miles driven 

Drivers with certain characteristics, such as a poor driving record, have a greater chance of being involved in an accident and pay a higher premium as a result.

Some classifications, such as driving record and type of vehicle driven, are within your control, while others, like age and sex, are not.


Insurers use eligibility criteria, known as underwriting criteria, to select which drivers they will insure. 

Auto insurers have the right to decide what types of drivers they wish to insure as long as they apply their criteria consistently and fairly. 

Some insurers specialize in adult drivers with a clean driving record. They may turn down applications from teen drivers or adults who have had several serious violations. 

Other insurers specialize in high-risk drivers and may accept individuals who have had several accidents or violations. 

Shop Around

Different insurers will charge different premiums, based at least partially on the drivers they choose to insure. If you are turned down by one insurer, apply with other insurers - they may have different underwriting criteria. 

If you had a poor driving record in the past that has improved over the last few years, it may be worth shopping around to see if another insurer charges a lower premium.