When you’re new to driving, you pose a greater risk to insurance companies, and for them, it’s all about reducing exposure to the various liability a driver may have.
Teen drivers aren’t as experienced and the likelihood they’ll get into an accident are higher—the CDC reports seven teenagers are killed in car crashes almost every day (more than 2,400 teens in a year), so it makes sense that they cost more to insure.For full coverage rate estimates, teenage car insurance averages $486 per month or $5,827 per year.
What Affects Car Insurance Costs for New Drivers?
Age and driving records affect the price of your auto insurance, but insurance companies weigh in other factors as well. Where you live matters, and metropolitan areas are more expensive than others. Driver traits, such as gender also matter.
That same study from the CDC said teen males that are 16 and 19 are three times as likely to be involved in a deadly crash versus drivers aged 20 or older.
While these numbers paint a grim reality of the dangers of driving as a teen, they also translate to higher costs for young drivers. After a few years of practice on the road with hopefully zero accidents and violations, auto insurance rates for young drivers eventually go down.
But if you’re on the hunt now for the best insurance for your teen, here are ways in which you can save a little bit of money.
Save By Adding Your Teen To Your Policy
This is by far the best and cheapest way to drastically reduce the cost of car insurance for teen drivers compared to a stand-alone policy.
For an 18-year-old, the savings come out to around half of the price. For a 16-year-old, a stand-alone policy costs a monthly average of $576. Another study by ValuePenguin reported that adding your teen to your insurance policy vs. having their own can save you an average of $3,108.
As the main policyholder and as an experienced driver, you can help your teen qualify for a better rate and give you a greater choice of discounts.
Of course, adding your teen is going to increase your insurance premium. You'll also be liable for any accidents that your teen gets into. Their accident is basically your accident and will most likely increase the cost of your insurance even further.
How To Save On Car Insurance For Teen Drivers
There are a few ways that you can reduce the cost of car insurance for teen drivers.
The Type Of Car
First, assign them to the cheapest car on your policy. If one of your cars is worth $3,500 and the $35,000, make sure that your teen is assigned to the $3,500 car. The reason for this is in case of an accident. It will cost more to repair the $35,000 car than the cheaper one.
Also, a damaged car that is only worth $3,500 may not even be worth repairing if the costs exceed the car’s worth. The insurance company may just deem it a total loss and give you a check for the cost of the car, if the accident is ruled in your favor.
A Note About Collision Coverage
One way to save on your teen’s premium is to drop collision coverage if the car is worth less than a few thousand dollars. If you don’t have collision insurance, you’ll have to pay for the damages to your own car, but if the car is a junker, it won’t hurt your wallet as much as if it were a new car that required expensive repairs.
Collision insurance is expensive for teen drivers because they're more likely to get into an accident and file an insurance claim than experienced drivers.
Keep in mind that older cars without anti-lock and anti-theft devices may cost a bit more for your premium. Get separate quotes, just in case.
Assign the more sensible car to your teen. Instead of the sports car, the sedan that comes with safety features and anti-theft is a better choice.
One accident can cause your insurance to go up by 45%. To avoid this, ask about accident forgiveness, which is additional coverage you can qualify for that can be added to your policy. This benefit means your insurance premiums won’t go up in your first accident.
However, not everyone qualifies. You may be eligible if you haven’t gotten into an accident in the last five years.
Ways To Score Discounts
Here are ways to lessen the cost of your insurance through discounts, which could save you up to 20%.
1. Good Grades
Another way to save is to take advantage of available discounts. For example, your insurer may offer a "Good Grades" discount for high school and college students. Check out the cheapest car insurance for college students.
Allstate is one insurance company that does this, offering discounts to unmarried drivers under the age of 25 with a B- average. State Farm also provides a discount of up to 25% if your teen has solid grades, is younger than 25, or is in their final year in school.
Call and ask about the good grades discount, as the policies vary from company to company.
2. Safe Driver Discounts Through Telematics
A telematics device is installed in your vehicle and helps monitor driving habits, such as speed, rate of braking, and the amount of time the car is driven. Some companies offer discounts if your teen shows that safety is of the utmost importance. Look for companies that offer a telematics discount:
3. Student Away
“Student away" discounts can also reduce the cost of insuring students who spend a large portion of the year at an out-of-state college separated from their car.
4. Taking Safety Courses
You can also check to see if your insurer gives a premium discount to teens who complete driver's ed courses or safe driver courses.
The Best Car Insurance For Teen Drivers
Recently, ValuePenguin compared the cost of car insurance for teen drivers. Below, you'll find a list of the best insurance providers evaluated in the study. This might give you a starting point when doing your own insurance research.
The data below gives you an idea how much it will cost in order to add your teen to your insurance. Keep in mind these rates vary and may not be available in all states, so be sure to check that first in your research.
The Cheapest Auto Insurance For Teens: State Farm
State Farm auto insurance came in as the cheapest for teens, with an average policy costing around $293 per month for an 18-year-old who needs full coverage. Compare that to the national average of about $410—about a third less.
The other companies that were cheapest included Country Financial (available in 19 states), Erie (only available in 12 states and Washington D.C.), and USAA (only for current and former military).
Cheapest Auto Insurance For Adding Teen Drivers Under You
Auto-Owners has the least expensive car insurance for teenagers on a parent's policy, costing $153 per month for an 18-year-old and a 50-year-old.
Overall, Auto-Owners might be a good option, as the company charges a flat rate for drivers who are under the age of 19.
According to ValuePenguin, Erie, Farm Bureau and State Farm also have cheap car insurance for young drivers when they're added to a parent’s policy.
The Importance of Shopping Around
To keep costs as low as possible, shop around. Your current insurance company may not be the best choice when it comes to adding your teen to your insurance.
For one, your insurance company may not offer one or more of the discount programs listed above. Or they may simply have a tendency to penalize teen drivers more than other insurers.
The price of car insurance for teen drivers will also vary depending on where you live and your teen's gender (teen males will typically cost more than females to insure).
Even if your insurer traditionally offers low rates for car insurance for teen drivers, a different company may still be able to offer you a better rate if they offer short-term discounts to get new customers in the door.
But you'll want to carefully consider whether switching insurance providers is worth the time and hassle. It certainly could be if the savings are large enough.
Then again, if you’ve had a great experience with your insurance provider and your potential savings from switching are minimal, you may decide that sticking with the insurer that you've come to know and trust is your best option.
The word “best” is different for every driver and their teen based on things like location and driving history. While shopping around, consider what matters most to you and the safety of your teen—does it make sense to forgo collision insurance if your teen is driving the family beater?
Can you maximize on savings by bundling different types of insurance (such as renters) or asking about how much you can get for your child’s stellar grades in school?
Use a tool like Policygenius to compare rates online, see what works best for your teen’s current situation, and ask a lot of questions.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.
Editor: Clint Proctor Reviewed by: Claire Tak