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Here’s how much millennials can really save by being safe drivers

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Millennials in their early 20s usually pay the highest auto insurance premiums, according to a recent study.

Getting into an accident or receiving a traffic ticket can dramatically increase anyone’s auto insurance rates. But since millennials pay the most on average, they really need to focus on steering clear of these premium-raising events.

These actions make insurance companies question how responsible you are behind the wheel. It’s similar to when a credit card company determines your creditworthiness based on how responsible you are with your borrowing habits.

“People assume that if you have a good credit score that you make good decisions,” says Brian Face, certified financial planner at Face 2 Face Financial Planning in Portage, Michigan.

Credit scores are one predictor for responsibility. But when it comes to your actions behind the wheel, DUIs, small accidents, speeding tickets and distracted driving are the hot-ticket items, says Face, who used to own an insurance agency.

Making good choices on the road can show your auto insurance company that you’re responsible.

Here’s a look at four things millennials should avoid to keep everyone safe, most importantly. By doing the right and safe thing, you can also save money on your auto insurance.

DUI: 94 percent average rate increase for millennials

Leaving your car at home or leaving it parked after drinking can eliminate a DUI. This can help save lives. Ride-hailing services, such as Uber and Lyft, provide many people an easy option to find a designated driver.

“I think logically we all assume that would have a big impact, so it’s interesting to see data on just how big that impact can be,” says John Puterbaugh, senior editor at, a Bankrate sister site.

DUIs cause average rate increases of 96 percent for 31-year-olds and 97 percent hikes for 35-year-olds, according to the study.

“One reason that rate can go up so much [for DUIs are] there’s some companies that just will not carry you anymore,” Face says. “So either they’ll make it so expensive that you leave, or they’ll just completely stop carrying you. And then you’re going to have to go find a high-risk insurance.”

In addition to a premium increase: You’ll likely pay fines/penalties, towing/impound costs, DUI treatment program expenses, court costs and legal fees. These can add up to an additional $5,141 for a first DUI, according to the State of California.

Small accident: 51 percent average rate increase for millennials

A small accident can significantly increase your premium. Imagine going to the checkout line and learning that the items in your cart are 51 percent more expensive than you thought. That could throw anyone’s budget off.

“When I think about a small accident, I think about a fender bender or something like that,” says Puterbaugh. “Which doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that can increase your yearly premium by $1,000!”

In addition to a premium increase: You still need to pay your deductible, assuming you have collision coverage. Otherwise you’d have to pay for all of your repairs. An emergency savings account is a great place to have money ready for an unplanned incident. (Compare rates on savings accounts to find the right one for you.)

Speeding ticket: 25 percent average rate increase for millennials

Paying attention to both your speedometer and the road can pay off. Plan ahead for your trips. Leave early and give yourself plenty of time. Sticking to the speed limit can help keep you safer and allow more time to react to changing road conditions and traffic flow.

In addition to a premium increase: If you’re found guilty, you will need to pay the ticket. Plus, being pulled over by a police officer is going to end up costing you time anyways.

Distracted driving: 24 percent average rate increase for millennials

Any distraction can cause an accident. Staying focused on the road while you’re behind the wheel can save lives. Distracted driving kills nine people and causes 1,000 injuries per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

“I was surprised a bit at how small an impact a distracted driving infraction can have on your premium,” Puterbaugh says. “With people texting while driving being so prevalent these days, and presenting such a seemingly big risk with regard to causing accidents, I was surprised to see they only increase rates by 24 percent on average.”

Good habits, such as refraining from touching your phone while you drive, can potentially save lives.

In addition to a premium increase: You may have to pay a ticket. If your car is damaged, you could be on the hook for the deductible to make any car repairs. Or if you don’t have collision coverage, you may have to pay for all of the damage to your car out of pocket.

You’re also putting other lives and your own life in danger by not paying attention to the road.

Bottom line

Any moving infraction or accident is likely to cause your insurance company to raise your rates. So avoiding these can help keep millennials’ auto insurance costs remain as low as possible.

“The assumption is: You’re already a higher risk, you’re already paying a higher premium and they’re obviously going to hit you a little harder in the rate if you make these decisions earlier on then if you’re older when they assume that you’re more responsible,” Face says.

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Written by
Matthew Goldberg
Consumer banking reporter
Matthew Goldberg is a consumer banking reporter at Bankrate. Matthew has been in financial services for more than a decade, in banking and insurance.
Edited by
Senior wealth editor