Cheap car insurance for teens in 2021

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Getting a driver’s license is one of the biggest milestones for teens. To help parents and young drivers alike find reliable car insurance coverage, Bankrate’s insurance editorial team assessed current premiums and policy offerings from dozens of providers to determine the best cheap car insurance for teens. For drivers aged 16 or 17, Nationwide shines for offering the most affordable average rates. If you are an older teen, aged 18 or 19, Erie stands out for offering cheap auto insurance for your age group.

Cheap auto insurance for teens

Insurance carriers in most states consider a driver’s age when determining their insurance premium. When it comes to insurance for teens, age is a particularly important factor 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 more experienced adult drivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), teen drivers are almost three times more likely than drivers aged 20 or older to be involved in a fatal car crash. However, even young drivers and parents of teens can find cheap car insurance coverage.

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

Legally considered minors, both 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds typically need to be insured under a parent’s policy. Because these drivers are the most inexperienced of any age group, car insurance rates are generally higher for teens than they are for other ages. Still, several of the nation’s best auto insurers offer cheap insurance for young teens. The companies showcased below reflect some of the cheapest car insurance for teens, gathered in partnership with Quadrant Information Services.

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 $1,362 $1,100 $1,231
Erie $1,531 $1,178 $1,355
The Hartford $1,946 $1,898 $1,922
Geico $2,234 $1,785 $2,009

Note how insurance premiums generally decrease 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 $1,226 $988 $1,107
Erie $1,362 $1,028 $1,195
The Hartford $1,590 $1,553 $1,572
USAA $1,729 $1,470 $1,599

These rates reflect the annual average cost for a teen driver added to a parents’ policy, consisting of three total drivers and one car. Each rate calculation determined the difference in premium before and after the teen was added, with the difference representing the amount that the insurance company is charging for the teen.

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

18-year-old and 19-year-old drivers generally have more road experience than younger teens and, due to their age and status as legal adults, typically have the option to remain on a parent’s policy or purchase their own. Because insurance rates still tend to be higher than more experienced adult drivers, 18- and 19-year-old drivers may benefit from seeking coverage from the companies in the tables below, which offer cheap auto insurance for teens in this age range on average. The average cost of car insurance for 18- and 19-year-olds on their own policy is $5,247 and $4,146 for full coverage, or $1,655 and $1,254 for minimum coverage, respectively.

Car insurance company Average annual premium for minimum coverage for 18-year-olds Average annual premium for full coverage for 18-year-olds
Erie $904 $2,953
USAA $1,049 $3,367
Auto-Owners $1,086 $3,531
Geico $1,011 $3,675

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 $776 $2,601
USAA $777 $2,637
Amica Mutual $865 $3,656
Auto-Owners $900 $3,004

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 tend to be 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. For example, the average 18-year-old male driver pays over $800 more for full coverage than a female driver. Keep in mind that this is not the case in all states, such as California and Michigan, where gender is not considered as a rating factor. The table below illustrates how gender might impact insurance rates for a teen driver:

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* $2,612 $2,141
18-year-old $5,650 $4,844
19-year-old $4,487 $3,807

*16- and 17-year-old drivers on their parents’ policy. 18- and 19-year old drivers on their own 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 to 19 was nearly two times the death rate for females in the same age group. The riskier driving behavior of male drivers combined with young drivers’ lack of experience makes teen males especially costly to insure. However, by shopping around, comparing quotes and even switching car insurance companies, young male drivers could make significant strides toward achieving cheap auto insurance.

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 a teen driver.

Good student discounts

Many insurance carriers offer a discount for students aged 16 to 24 who are enrolled in school full-time and maintain a certain grade point average. Carriers 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 $2,531 $2,119 -16%
17-year-old $2,376 $1,994 -16%

*16- and 17-year-old drivers on their parents’ policy.

Distant student discounts

Students who attend a school away from home and do not have a car with them may qualify for this discount. While this discount is most common with college students, younger teens who attend schools away from home might also qualify. 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 $1,975 $1,911 -3%
19-year-old $1,528 $1,483 -3%

*18- and 19-year-old drivers on their parent’s policy.

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 contributors to teens earning cheap car insurance while 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

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 cheap car insurance for teens, 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.

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 crash data, which is why teen drivers typically pay more for their car insurance. According to the CDC, teenage drivers aged 16 to 19 are at the highest risk of experiencing a motor vehicle crash when compared to every other age group.

Should I add my teenager to my car insurance policy?

While teenagers 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. Your carrier 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

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.

Gender: The following states do not use gender as a determining factor in calculating premiums: California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania.

Age: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the ages 18-60 (base: 40 years) applied. Depending on age, drivers may be a renter or homeowner. Rates for the 16- and 17-year-olds were determined based on the added cost to their 40-year-old parents’ policy.