Cheap car insurance for teens

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Getting a driver’s license is an exciting achievement, but the excitement might be tempered when a teen obtains a car insurance quote, or when a parent adds a teen to their policy. Car insurance premiums for teens are generally much higher than they are for their adult counterparts. Because teen drivers are a higher perceived risk to insurance carriers, finding cheap car insurance for teens can be a challenge. Knowing how insurance carriers calculate teen’s insurance rates, why gender can affect insurance premiums and what discounts are available can help you control your insurance costs.

Bankrate breaks down the costs associated with insuring teen drivers using Quadrant Information Services to provide up-to-date premium information. All premiums are national annual averages and rates will vary depending on each individual policyholder’s specific scenario.

Cheap auto insurance for teens

Insurance carriers consider a driver’s age when determining their insurance premium. This is because certain age groups are associated with a greater likelihood of accidents than others.

For teen drivers in particular, inexperience and statistical crash data typically result in a higher premium than their more experienced adult counterparts. According to the Centers for Disease Control, teens are more at risk for car accidents than any other age group. In fact, teen drivers are almost three times more likely than drivers aged 20 or older to be involved in a fatal car crash.

16- and 17-year-olds on their parents’ policy

Because they are still considered minors, most 16- and 17-year-olds will need to be insured on their parents’ auto insurance policy. Although some insurance companies may allow young teens to purchase their own policy, they will likely pay quite a bit more than if they were listed as drivers on their parents’ policy.

The tables below show the national average annual full coverage premium for 16- and 17-year-old males and females listed on their parents’ policy.

Car insurance company Average annual full coverage premium for 16-year-old males Average annual full coverage premium for 16-year-old females Overall average annual full coverage premium
Nationwide $1,478 $1,082 $1,241
Erie Insurance $1,274 $1,295 $1,285
The Hartford $1,698 $2,065 $1,864
Geico $1,970 $1,850 $1,897

Note how the insurance premium decreases for 17-year-old drivers in the table below:

Car insurance company Average annual full coverage premium for 17-year-old males Average annual full coverage premium for 17-year-old females Overall average annual full coverage premium
Nationwide $1,279 $983 $1,104
Erie Insurance $1,120 $1,125 $1,123
The Hartford $1,384 $1,689 $1,521
USAA $1,738 $1,462 $1,565

These rates reflect the annual average cost for a teen driver added to a parents’ policy, consisting of a total of three drivers and one car. These rates were calculated by determining the difference in premium before and after the teen was added. The difference in premium represents the amount that the insurance company is charging for the teen.

18- and 19-year-olds on their own policy

Teen drivers who are 18- or 19-years-old can typically either remain on their parents’ policy or transition to their own policy. While these drivers may have more driving experience than younger teens, 18- and 19-year-olds will still likely pay more for an individual policy versus remaining on their parents’ policy.

The average annual cost of full coverage car insurance in the United States is $1,674. By comparison, the table below illustrates the average price per carrier for an 18-year-old driver to obtain their own minimum or full coverage car insurance policy:

Car insurance company Average annual premium for minimum coverage for 18-year-olds Average annual premium for full coverage for 18-year-olds
Erie Insurance $1,043 $3,069
USAA $1,268 $3,771
Auto Owners $1,285 $3,731
Geico $1,342 $3,891

Even at 19-years-old, drivers will generally pay more than the national average annual premium for full coverage, although premiums do continue to trend downward:

Car insurance company Average annual premium for minimum coverage for 19-year-olds Average annual premium for full coverage for 19-year-olds
Erie Insurance $898 $2,718
USAA $932 $2,939
Amica Mutual $1,042 $3,495
Auto Owners $1,061 $3,203

While certainly less expensive than insuring 16- and 17-year-old drivers, 18- and 19-year-olds may still benefit from remaining on their parents’ policies. However, if an 18- or 19-year-old driver moves out of their parents’ household (except for going to college), most insurance companies will require that they get their own policy, seperate from their parents.

How much does car insurance cost for teen drivers?

In addition to age, gender and location are major factors that insurance companies use to determine the cost of car insurance for teen drivers. Male drivers are generally considered higher risk, regardless of their age group, and therefore tend to pay higher insurance premiums. The table below illustrates how gender might impact your teen driver’s insurance rates:

Age Average annual full coverage premium for males Average annual full coverage premium for females
16-year-old* $2,783 $2,280
17-year-old* $2,485 $2,015
18-year-old $5,727 $4,983
19-year-old $4,434 $3,831

*16- and 17-year-olds on their parents’ policy

Why does car insurance cost more for male drivers?

Insurance carriers partly base premium calculations on statistical data, which is why male drivers tend to pay more on average than females. Statistically, male drivers are more likely to get into accidents than female drivers, and those accidents tend to be more serious.

According to research from the CDC, the motor vehicle death rate for males aged 16 – 19 was nearly two times the death rate for females in the same age group. The riskier driving behavior of male drivers combined with the lack of experience for young drivers makes teen males especially expensive to insure.

How teens can save on car insurance

The cost of insuring a teen driver can be daunting. Insurance companies know this and generally offer several discounts for policyholders to take advantage of to lower their premium. By understanding what savings programs your insurance carrier has available, you may be able to lower the cost of insuring your teen driver.

Good student discounts

Many insurance carriers offer a discount for students aged 16 – 24 who are enrolled in school full-time and are able to maintain a certain grade point average. Carriers will have varying eligibility requirements, so it is always best to ask your provider what the exact requirements are in order to qualify for this discount. The table below illustrates just how cost-effective these programs can be:

Age Average annual full coverage premium before good student discount Average annual full coverage premium after good student discount Difference
16-year-old $2,307 $1,931 -16%
17-year-old $2,045 $1,691 -17%

Distant student discounts

College students who attend a school away from home and do not have a car with them may qualify for this discount. Such programs usually stipulate the maximum age and minimum distance from home that students must be in order to qualify. For example, a distant student program may require that a student be under the age of 25 and be at least 100 miles away from home in order to qualify. The following table illustrates the average savings you can expect by enrolling in such a program:

Age Average annual full coverage premium before distant student discount Average annual full coverage premium after distant student discount Difference
18-year-old $5,385 $5,041 -6%
19-year-old $4,133 $3,877 -6%

Additional discounts

In addition to education-related discounts, teen drivers can take advantage of other discounts to help lower the cost of insurance. Depending on your insurance carrier, you may be eligible for the following:

  • Safe driving discount: Insurance carriers may offer safe driving discounts for policyholders who have a clean driving history, meaning no accidents or traffic violations, for the past three to five years.
  • Multi-car and multi-policy discounts: These two discounts are some of the biggest reasons that teen drivers may save money by staying on their parents’ policy. If their parents have more than one car, their auto policy likely qualifies for a multi-car discount. Similarly, if they have a homeowners, condo owners or renters insurance policy with the same company, they may qualify for a multi-policy discount.
  • Driver’s education discount: Policyholders who complete a qualifying driver training course may be eligible for a driver’s education discount from some companies.

Always refer to your insurance carrier’s list of available discounts to understand eligibility requirements. If you are unsure what discounts are offered by your carrier or what discounts you qualify for, you may want to call your agent or your insurance company’s customer service department to confirm.

Frequently asked questions

Why is car insurance higher for teen drivers than adults?

Because teen drivers are less experienced than their adult counterparts, they tend to pay higher premiums for car insurance coverage. Insurance carriers partly base premium price off of statistical data, which is why teen drivers typically pay more for their car insurance. According to the CDC, teenage drivers aged 16 – 19 are at the highest risk of experiencing a motor vehicle crash when compared to every other age group.

What is the best car insurance company for teen drivers?

The best car insurance company largely depends on your specific needs. When selecting the best car insurance company for your teenage driver, you might want to consider what coverage options are available, the average cost for coverage and what discounts are offered. It may also be advantageous to keep a teen driver on their parents’ policy until they have moved out of the household.

Should I add my teenager to my car insurance policy?

While your teenager can sometimes purchase their own insurance policy, depending on their age, it is generally more cost-effective for them to be added to a parents’ policy. If you are unsure how to insure your teen driver, contacting your insurance company can help. They may be able to provide you a quote for your teen being added to your policy as well as insuring them on their own policy, so you can compare the coverages and premiums to make a decision.

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on male and female drivers aged 16-19 with clean driving records, good credit and the following full coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
  • $500 collision deductible
  • $500 comprehensive deductible

Rates for the 16- and 17-year-olds were determined based on the added cost to their 40-year-old parents’ policy.

To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverages that meet each state’s requirements. Our sample drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

These are sample rates and should be used for comparative purposes only. Your quotes may be different.

Rates are determined based on 2021 Quadrant Information Services data.