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How to get car insurance for new drivers

teenage son driving with his father
MoMo Productions/Getty Images
teenage son driving with his father
MoMo Productions/Getty Images
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Many people look forward to the day they can drive. It’s a huge milestone, and for the first time, you’ll get to control your own vehicle and enjoy the freedom of the road. But after you’ve passed your driver’s test, you can’t just hop behind the wheel of your new ride. You need to get a car insurance policy first.

Drivers are legally required to carry a minimum amount of car insurance in nearly every state, and new drivers are no exception. But while you’ll likely need to purchase a car insurance policy as a new driver, getting a new driver car insurance policy may be much easier, and much less expensive, than you’d think. That’s because new drivers generally have a number of options for getting car insurance. So if you’ve been wondering how to get car insurance as a new driver, or what the policy options are, here’s what you should know.

Who needs new driver car insurance?

While you may think of new drivers as being teenagers who were recently licensed, there are actually a few different groups that may be considered “new drivers” by car insurance companies. These include:

  • Newly licensed teen drivers
  • Older drivers who are newly licensed
  • Immigrants and foreign nationals
  • Any drivers of any age with a gap in insurance coverage or licensing

These new drivers will typically pay higher-than-average rates for their car insurance policies. For example, the average cost of car insurance is $1,771 per year for a full coverage policy, but an 18-year-old driver on their own policy pays an average of $4,946 per year for the same coverage. This is due, in part, to there being more risk involved with insuring younger, less-experienced drivers.

Factors that determine car insurance rates for new drivers

Before you purchase car insurance as a new driver, it’s important to understand the factors that impact your rates. Two important factors are your age and your driving record. If you are under the age of 18 and have not had a clean record for more than a year, your premiums will likely be higher than if you were over 25 years old and had a clean driving record.

Other factors that may be used to determine your car insurance rates include your ZIP code, marital status and vehicle. If you live in certain states, your gender and credit score can also be used to assess your car insurance premiums.

Types of car insurance for new drivers

When you are looking for car insurance for new drivers, it is important to look at all the available types of car insurance coverage. Insurance companies typically offer minimum and full coverage auto policies, as well as additional endorsements that can be used to customize your policy.

Minimum coverage car insurance policies

While minimum car insurance coverage requirements vary by state, most minimum coverage policies include:

  • Bodily injury (BI) liability: Bodily injury liability coverage will help pay for medical expenses related to the other driver’s injuries if you cause an accident. If the other driver sues you for losses, it may also cover your legal fees.
  • Property damage (PD) liability: This coverage pays toward property damage that you cause to others, like the other person’s vehicle repairs that occurred due to an at-fault accident.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM): This type of coverage offers financial protection if you get into an accident with a driver who is uninsured or does not have enough insurance to cover your losses.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP): Personal injury protection is required in no-fault states. This coverage can pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and other related expenses, regardless of who caused the accident.
  • Medical payments coverage (MedPay): This coverage helps pay medical expenses following an accident for yourself or any passengers in your vehicle. It is considered optional coverage in most states, but there are a few states that require drivers to carry this type of coverage.

Full coverage car insurance policies

A full coverage auto insurance policy offers more protection for your finances compared to minimum coverage, including coverage for the expense of repairing or replacing your vehicle. A basic full coverage policy typically includes:

  • Collision: This coverage will help pay to repair or replace your vehicle if you collide with another vehicle or something else that damages your vehicle.
  • Comprehensive: This coverage pays for damage to your vehicle caused by a wide array of situations, like theft, storm damage, vandalism and animal damage.

Additional endorsement options

In addition to minimum and full coverage car insurance, you may also have the option to add additional endorsements to your policy. These may include:

  • Towing and labor coverage: Towing and labor coverage may pay for the cost of towing your car to a repair shop and may also cover a certain amount of necessary labor charges to repair the issue that caused the vehicle to break down.
  • Roadside assistance: This coverage provides roadside assistance coverage in case your vehicle breaks down or is stolen, or if you need to change a flat tire.

How to get car insurance for new drivers

As a new driver, you have options when it comes to car insurance coverage. That can make the process of getting a car insurance policy feel daunting. Knowing what steps you should take to obtain your first car insurance policy may help. These include:

  • Do your research. There are numerous insurance companies to choose from, so it may be helpful to narrow down the options before getting quotes. Decide what factors are important to you, whether it’s affordability, discount opportunities, optional coverage types, excellent customer service ratings or another factor entirely, and then make a list of the companies that fit your needs or wants.
  • Know what coverage you need. Minimum coverage car insurance is typically the cheapest, but having higher liability limits and more coverage, like comprehensive and collision, could better protect your finances.  It can be helpful to know which type of coverage is right for you, and any optional coverage types you may want, before getting quotes.
  • Have your personal and vehicle information on hand. After you’ve narrowed down the option, you’ll want to have your driver’s license number, the make and model of your vehicle, and your personal information on hand before gathering quotes. You may also need your car’s VIN number to finalize the purchase of your policy.
  • Get personalized car insurance quotes. Policies and prices for coverage may vary by company, so it’s often helpful to get quotes from multiple providers. Most large insurance companies offer quotes online, but you may also speak to an agent to get a personalized quote. This can help you find the best fit for your needs and budget.
  • Inquire about available discounts. Most insurance companies will offer various discount opportunities, such as good student, multi-car, airbags, usage-based and more. These discounts may help you save money on a new driver policy.
  • Compare options and purchase a policy. Once you have multiple quotes to compare, you can compare the options to determine which policy is the right fit for your needs. From there, you’ll need to complete the necessary paperwork and pay for your policy for the coverage to be in effect.

Frequently asked questions

Written by
June Sham
Insurance Writer
June Sham is an insurance writer for Bankrate. Before joining the team, she worked for nearly three years as a licensed producer writing auto, property, umbrella and earthquake policies.
Edited by
Insurance Editor