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Tips for saving with teen driver discounts

A teenage girl is adjusting the rearview mirror in her car while her mom is sitting in the passenger seat.

Having a teen that is ready to start driving is an exciting time, but it presents new challenges and expenses for families. Under most circumstances, parents will want to add their child to their existing driver’s insurance policy to make sure they are covered while they are behind the wheel. While taking this approach versus purchasing a standalone policy for your teen is typically cheaper, the fact is that teens are considered to be high-risk drivers and can be expensive to cover. Luckily, there are methods for securing insurance discounts for teenage drivers. Whether you’re shopping for the cheapest auto insurance for teens or just looking for ways to score some teen car insurance discounts on your existing coverage, Bankrate has you covered.

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How to save on car insurance when adding a teen driver

Insurers charge higher rates on average for teens than for any other group of drivers, but cheap car insurance for teens is possible. In particular, driving behavior programs, good student discounts and telematics can help provide reductions in premiums. Here are a few discount opportunities to explore:

Good student discount

It’s common for car insurance companies to offer discounts for full-time students who maintain good grades. For instance, Allstate offers a good student discount to unmarried drivers, under 25 years of age, who have at least a B- average. Additionally, State Farm offers up to 25% savings for students with good grades, up to age 25 or their last year of school. If your teen is a top student, you may want to call your agent to ask about savings. Some companies require you to submit proof of grades by sending in a copy of your child’s report card, but the small amount of time it takes to do so could be worth it.

Enroll in a safe driving course

At-fault accidents on a teen’s driving record can cause rates to increase substantially, especially compared to drivers in other age groups. Many insurers now promote driver safety courses as a way to teach young, inexperienced drivers the rules of the road and provide teen driver discounts. Geico, State Farm, Allstate and Travelers are all examples of carriers that reward drivers with a premium discount upon completion of required driver safety training courses.

Distant student savings

If your young adult driver moves away from home to attend college and leaves their car behind, they might be eligible for a lower rate. For some companies, this savings comes in the form of a distant student discount. For others, the savings isn’t a discount but is instead an “away-at-school“ driver status that can cause a decrease in your premium. Either way, your child must usually be a certain distance away from home (typically 100 miles or more). Whether your company offers a distant student discount or an away-at-school status, this could be a great savings opportunity to have, especially when combined with the good student discount.

Low-mileage savings

Similar to the distant student, if your teen drives the car a low number of miles each year, then usage-based insurance may be a good option. For example, Nationwide offers the pay-per-mile option through its SmartMiles program, providing coverage with a premium that changes each month, depending on the number of miles actually driven — though it is not available in all states.

Consider the teen’s car

The make and model of your vehicle can have a considerable impact on car insurance rates. With this in mind, you may want to be strategic when buying a car for your teen driver. If you want the lowest rates, a used sedan could be a more economic option than a new, sporty coupe. However, remember that older vehicles may lack safety features such as anti-theft devices and anti-lock braking systems, which might lead to a higher premium. Most insurance professionals recommend that you get separate quotes for all of the vehicles you are considering purchasing before making your decision, but be sure to list your newly-licensed teen as the driver to get the most accurate rate.

Take advantage of telematics

Installing a telematics device in your teen’s car or downloading a telematics-based app from your insurer may help you monitor their driving habits, and it could net you a discount, too. Keep in mind that under some insurers telematics programs, your rates could also increase if the company detects poor driving habits. A telematics device is a small piece of equipment that you plug into your vehicle, but could also work through your smart phone with the proper app installed, and gathers driving data such as rate of braking, average speed and the time of day a car is driven. Many companies now offer a telematics discount, including:

  • Allstate
  • Geico
  • Progressive
  • Nationwide

Why it costs more to insure teen drivers

In almost all cases, a teenager under the age of 18 will not be legally allowed to purchase their own car insurance policy without written consent of a parent or guardian. But the cost to insure a teen driver largely depends on whether you add them to your policy or if they purchase their own separate policy. For example, the average premium for an 18-year-old driver on their own policy (with no discounts applied) is $6,110 a year for full coverage. In contrast, the total premium for a policy that includes a married couple and their 18-year-old is $3,345 for full coverage. For comparison, the national average cost of car insurance for a 40-year-old driver is $2,014. While it could be cheaper to add your young adult to your existing policy, comparing quotes is the only way to know for sure.

Car insurance for teen drivers is usually higher-than-average because teens typically practice more at-risk driving behaviors, including:

  • Not using seatbelts
  • More likely to drive distracted
  • Higher rates of alcohol use
  • More likely to speed
  • More likely to be involved in accidents at nights and on the weekends

Despite these numerous risk factors, it is still possible to save money by seeking out the cheapest car insurance companies and requesting quotes.

Where to shop for teen driver car insurance

Knowing which carriers offer the best discounts for teen drivers while providing adequate coverage is critical. Requesting quotes from multiple carriers is important because it allows you to see equal coverage comparisons to make sure your teen has adequate insurance coverage at a competitive price. In addition, many insurance carriers will work with you to find the best insurance discounts and cheapest full coverage for teen drivers.

Based on our extensive research, the following carriers could offer the best car insurance for young drivers:

  • Auto-Owners: Auto-Owners has plenty of savings opportunities that your teen may be eligible for, including good student and the GPS-centered Teen Monitoring discount. However, it is important to note that Auto-Owners is only available in 26 states, so it may not be an option in your area.
  • Geico: If your young adult child lives at college at least 100 miles away and they do not have a vehicle, they could qualify for savings via the away-at-school status. Additionally, Geico offers eligible drivers good student and driver’s training discounts.
  • Nationwide: Nationwide offers an array of discounts for teens, including a good student and distant discount, plus access to the Nationwide SmartRide program to monitor safe driving habits.
  • Progressive: Progressive offers the Snapshot program, a telematics program designed to monitor teen driving habits and reward them with lower teenage insurance premiums. For safer teen drivers, this could be advantageous.
  • State Farm: Although State Farm allows your teen driver to take advantage of many discounts geared toward their demographic, its Steer Clear program is what sets it apart. This program aims to help young drivers improve their skills behind the wheel by offering on-the-road training, mentoring and an online course.

Frequently asked questions

    • The best car insurance company will depend on what kind of coverage you need, what your budget is, and what your expectations are for your insurance company. You will want to balance all of these factors to determine which car insurance company provides the insurance that is best for you. Make sure you prioritize your needs and shop around to get quotes for the best insurance coverage that meets your requirements.
    • There are several things to keep in mind when searching for the best used car for your teen driver. Older cars could be cheaper to insure but may not have important safety features such as a backup camera. Furthermore, a minivan could offer a lower premium than a coupe, but the minivan’s lower gas mileage might outweigh the savings you could see on your insurance bill. Along with features, you’ll have to consider the car’s sticker price. To get a holistic view of how much money you’ll need to work into your budget, it may be a good idea to get free online car insurance quotes and add the monthly premium expense to your car payment (if applicable).
    • In almost all cases, car insurance companies will not sell a policy to a minor without written consent from a parent or guardian, so if your teen is 16 or 17 years old, you may have no choice but to add your child to your car insurance. Based on our research, however, if your teen is 18 or 19 years old, their premium may be higher on their own compared to what they’d pay as an additional driver on your policy. Although adding your teen driver could allow for a lower premium, it’s important to note that if your teen gets into an accident or is issued a moving violation, that activity can increase your overall rate. Additionally, some insurance companies may require you to submit proof that your teen is no longer living in your household or has their own insurance to remove them.

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2023 rates for ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Rates are weighted based on the population density in each geographic region. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, 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 coverage that meets each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2021 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.

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. Age is not a contributing rating factor in Hawaii and Massachusetts due to state regulations.

Teens: Rates were determined by adding a 16- or 17-year-old teen to their 40-year-old married parents’ policy. The rates displayed reflect the total cost of a driver this age added to their parents’ policy.

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