Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Written by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Agent for 15 Years Rachael Brennan

Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Jun 21, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Teenage drivers are considered high-risk operators by all insurers because they have little to no experience behind the wheel
  • Even teens who haven’t been cited or had any type of auto accidents are classified as risky because of the statistics and the actions of youthful operators as a whole
  • Teens who only hold a permit may be covered automatically under your policy because they are learning to drive and aren’t fully licensed
  • If you refuse to let your teen drive your car or they have their own insurance, you may have to sign a driver exclusion before the company will remove them as a rated driver from your policy

It’s a scary thought to think of your teen getting behind the wheel. While it’s truly something you want to avoid for as long as possible, having a teen driver in the household comes with benefits.

Not only can you spend less time chauffeuring your kid around, you can also send them on errands that you don’t enjoy doing. Even if you’re scared, this is a key right of passage. They can make mistakes when they’re young and then move onto many opportunities that require you to be able to get around efficiently. Before you hand over the keys, make sure that they’re covered under your auto insurance policy.

When it comes to auto insurance, you should never assume that you have coverage. While some permissive drivers receive automatic coverage under your policy, not everyone meets the strict permissive use status criteria. A teen driver who lives in your house would not qualify as they both live in the same house and would drive your car regularly.

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What is a high-risk driver?


If you call and ask your insurer why the premiums for a teenage driver are so high, their response will probably be because all teens are classified as high-risk drivers.

What you might not know is that teens aren’t the only licensed drivers that fit into the dreaded and expensive high-risk class’.

Some other ways to land in this class, aside from your age and your years of experience, include:

  • Bad credit
  • No prior insurance and lapses in coverage
  • Multiple tickets
  • Multiple accidents
  • A serious accident resulting in death
  • DUI/DWI convictions

It might be frustrating that you can be dinged just because of your child’s birth year, but it happens all across the nation. Once your teen hits their mid 20’s, their rates will drop dramatically if they’ve maintained a clean driving record. By that time, mistakes they make when they’re 16, 17, and even 18 years old will have fallen off their record with an auto insurance company. If they’ve been involved in other high-risk incidents, their rates could remain high with an insurance carrier.

By definition, a high-risk driver is one who is statistically more likely to file a claim than the average driver. Since the rate of accidents is high in teens, they naturally have higher rates.

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Why are teens statistically more likely to file a claim?

Insurance companies spend a lot of more employing actuaries who gather data and run numbers. The purpose of an actuary is to set rates for insurance so that a company can stay profitable.

They will identify which target market the agents should actively seek out and which market isn’t ideal.

Actuaries spend a lot of time focusing on teen drivers and statistics. As unfair as it might seem, all of the numbers point to teens being the riskiest class of drivers on the road.

Here are some of the teen driving statistics that can help you understand why regulations in the marketplace allow insurers to charge based on a teen’s age or their experience:

  • 16-year-old drivers have a higher crash rate than any other age group
  • 56 percent of teens say they use their cell phones while driving
  • Driver distraction in teens was the cause for 56 percent of all vehicle crashes
  • Male teens are almost two times more likely to have an accident between 16-19 than females in the same age range
  • Teens have the lowest rate of seat belt usage
  • Teens 15-24 account for 30 percent of the total cost of car accident injuries

Many are more easily distracted. Even if they’re more responsible, they lack the experience to know how to handle everyday situations on the road.

What Factors Can Affect Your Rates with A Teen Driver?


When you add a newly licensed teen to your policy, the extra charge will depend on several different factors. All of these factors are used to calculate risk and come up with personalized rates.

Some of these factors include:

  • The gender of the teen (this is now illegal in some states)
  • The state you live in and your rating zip code
  • The number of vehicles and drivers in the home
  • Whether the teen is a primary or occasional driver
  • The coverage limits and options on the policy
  • Teen’s grades and driver training

How much will your rates go up?

While no estimate will be 100 percent accurate, recent surveys have found that it costs about 79 percent more to add a teen to your policy when you’re married and you have 2 vehicles.

The rates for males go up around 92 percent and the rates for females at the same age go up around 67 percent.

If you’re adding a teen and a vehicle, you can expect your premiums to more than double. Luckily, the costs will go down as your teen’s age and accumulate driving experience.

Getting multiple rate quotes for comparison is one way to lower your rate. You can also talk to insurance companies about teen specific discounts to avoid a serious rate increase. Things like a good student discount or defensive driving courses can keep rates on your family policy lower. When you’re getting quotes, keep in mind, you can also get insurance for teens on a separate policy.

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What happens if you don’t list your teen on your policy?


If you don’t want your premiums to double, you might be tempted to hold off on adding your teen to your policy. Unfortunately, doing this could land you in hot water if your teen is in an accident.

Under your policy agreement, it says related household members are insured under the contract.

You’re required to disclose the insured to your company. Since the company could make a lot more money off of a policy with a teen on it, they have the right to deny your claims.

Companies might give you a slap on the wrist the first time, but some companies are more strict than others.

What if the teen only has a permit?

If you have a 15 or 16-year-old who only holds a learner’s permit, you might qualify for automatic coverage until they are licensed.

Many companies won’t charge for drivers with a provisional license, but you should verify with your company first.

If you receive free coverage, you need to add your teen when they’re licensed.

If you recently added your teen to your policy and you aren’t happy with the rates, it’s time to shop around. Some companies are much more competitive with the youth than others.

Use an online insurance quoting tool to pull up multiple quotes at once. Compare the premiums and see if you’re getting a good deal or if you should switch.

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