Driving is one of the first adult responsibilities that many teens have. Obtaining a driver’s license is a milestone that everyone remembers; once you can drive, freedom and adulthood seem just over the horizon. Along with the freedom and responsibility of driving comes the risk of auto accidents, and for this reason teen drivers must carry insurance just like everyone else. Unfortunately for teens and their parents, auto insurance is more expensive for young people than any other group of drivers.
Why Teens Pay More for Car Insurance
Simply put, young drivers pay more for insurance because they get into more accidents. Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for people between 16 and 20 years of age, and teens are more likely to get into serious accidents than any other group of people. Because the odds are statistically higher that teens will be involved in accidents, they pay more for insurance.
Teenagers and other new drivers do not have the same experience that other drivers do. Because they have not developed the reflexes and reaction times of more experienced drivers, they will have a more difficult time avoiding accidents and driving defensively. New drivers are also not accustomed to driving in all situations, so they may be more likely to get in accidents caused by weather, traffic or other problems that are new to them.
Teenagers are also likely to engage in risky driving behaviors. They may speed, break traffic laws or text while driving. Drinking and driving is another major concern in young people. People under the legal drinking age may not want to get into trouble and thus will not call for a ride when they have been drinking. They may also be less likely to appoint designated drivers than older drinkers.
Who Buys the Policy?
In order to purchase an insurance policy, you must be 18 or older. Most teenagers are added as drivers to their parent’s policies. If the teen has their own vehicle, the parent may add that car to the existing policy or take out a separate policy for it. Once the young driver has turned 18, they have the choice of obtaining a new policy or simply removing their parents from the policy if theirs is the only vehicle insured on it.
Parents cannot buy auto insurance for adult children who do not live with them. They can, however, keep college students on their insurance policies until the students have graduated and moved out permanently.
How Can Teens Save Money on Car Insurance?
Young drivers may pay more for insurance, but they do have numerous options for reducing the cost of their premiums:
— Good Student Discounts
High school and college students with high GPAs pay less for car insurance than poor students. This is because good students are viewed as being more trustworthy and less likely to engage in dangerous behaviors like drinking and driving. If a student sends a copy of their transcript to the insurance company each semester, they can enjoy a discount.
— Graduated Licensing Programs
Some states draw the licensing process out over several steps. Drivers may receive learner’s permits, then limited licenses until they turn 18. They’re also required to clock a certain number of practice hours with their parents and have a limited number of passengers. Teens in these states may pay lower rates than others.
— Advanced Driver’s Education Courses
Libraries, schools and the DMV may all offer defensive driving courses or other types of advanced driver’s education. Whenever a student completes this program, they can provide proof of completion or certification to the insurance company, which may reduce the cost of premiums accordingly.
— Multi-Policy Discounts
College students can benefit from obtaining a renter’s insurance policy to cover their belongings in dorm rooms or apartments. Not only will this protect their possessions, it may also contribute to a discount on their auto insurance if the company offers a multi-policy discount.
Other Cost-Saving Considerations
When buying a new vehicle for your teen, it’s a good idea to purchase something that is affordable to insure. Sports cars, collector’s cars and luxury vehicles are all very expensive to insure and the cost will increase even more if the driver is a teenager. Instead, purchase your young driver a minivan, sedan or other vehicle with a high safety rating and low insurance cost.
In order to reduce the cost of premiums even more, you can add safety features and anti-theft devices to the vehicle. Anything that will reduce the chance of it being involved in a claim will cause the rates to go down when that vehicle is insured. Check with the insurance company to see what you may be able to do to make your vehicle safer and lower the cost of coverage.
Another way to reduce the overall cost of insuring a young driver’s vehicle is to limit the coverage. Because many first-time drivers have older model vehicles, it may make sense to carry liability-only coverage on that car rather than paying for full coverage insurance. Of course, if the vehicle is new or financed, this is not an option.
If a household has numerous vehicles, the parents may be able to save money on their overall insurance by keeping the teen’s vehicle on a separate policy and excluding the teen from driving any other vehicle in the household. If you do choose to do this, bear in mind that the teen cannot drive any car on the excluded policy; if they do, any accidents that occur will not be covered.
Buying Affordable Insurance for Young People
Companies that specialize in high-risk auto insurance may offer low rates to teens, so it might be smart to shop around for a policy even if the family’s other vehicles are insured with a different company. You can comparison shop online for the best rates. The quote request form will ask for the age and gender of the driver, so the results will be filtered to show only companies that can provide insurance to that age group.
Fortunately for young drivers, insurance costs begin to decrease after age 19. By 25, they should enjoy excellent rates if they have maintained a safe driving history and good credit with the insurance company. Many young drivers are able to earn excellent rates by purchasing a policy as teens; as adults with perfect driving records, they have a wide variety of cheap insurance options available to them.