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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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: Apr 13, 2022

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Key takeaways...

  • Statistically, teenaged drivers have more accidents than any other group
  • The California Department of Motor Vehicles reports that teen drivers receive more than twice as many citations as all other age groups
  • The biggest discount available for teens is a good student discount
  •  Have your agent go over the discounts the company offers to ensure that you are getting all of them that you can
  • The cheapest way to insure a teen is to have him as another driver on the family cars

If you’ve ever handed your keys over to a teen driver, you know what a scary thing it is to do. While the teen is probably excited about his next step to independence, you’re probably worried about his safety, and with good reason. A teen driver’s biggest challenge is that they have no experience. As a newly licensed driver, they’re still figuring out small things more seasoned drivers do every day.

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Teens have extremely high accident rates, higher than any other age group. These accidents can impact their health and their parents’ finances for years. Even if money weren’t an issue, this can lead to serious injuries both to teen drivers and those around them. Things like signing teens up for defensive driving classes can go a long way to saving you money and teaching them to drive safer.

How Likely Are Teens to Be in An Accident?

We all know insurance companies charge more for teen drivers. But is it fair? Are teenagers really that dangerous on the road? Statistically, teenaged drivers have more accidents than any other group. Even though they drive less than 20-79 year-olds, they experience more accidents for each mile that they drive. In fact, 16 to 19 year-olds have three times the number of accidents of older drivers.

Even more startling, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that, the younger the driver, the more likely he is to be involved in an accident.

Statistically, 16 and 17 year-olds have twice as many accidents as 18 and 19 year-olds.

If these numbers aren’t frightening enough, the percentage of deaths certainly is. In 2010, in approximately 58% of deaths from vehicle traffic accidents experienced by teens aged 16 to 19, the driver was a teen.

Vehicle accidents have long been the leading cause of death among teens of all ages, and increase as the teens hit legal driving age.

Unfortunately, teen drivers also have more alcohol-related crashes than any other age group, despite the fact that it is illegal for drivers under 21 to consume any alcohol, let alone before driving.

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Do Teen Drivers Get More Tickets?

Not only are teens involved in a disproportionate number of traffic accidents, they also receive a larger share of the tickets. Many parents try to instruct their kids on how to drive cautiously. When they’re out with friends, younger siblings, or otherwise without parents, it’s easier for them to get distracted or do something else to get pulled over and ticketed.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles reports that teen drivers receive more than twice as many citations as all other age groups.

Just as with accidents, the younger the driver, the more citations they receive. Sixteen-year-olds are issued citations 1.8 times more than any other group, including older teenagers. Insurance rates don’t drop significantly until a young adult his their mid-20s with a good driving record.

One factor in the higher number of tickets and a higher number of deaths from accidents is the disturbing fact that teens are the least likely drivers to buckle their seatbelt.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that teens are only 80 percent compliant with seatbelt laws.

How Much Higher Are Teen Car Insurance Rates?

These two statistics — a high accident and ticket rate — are the biggest reasons that teenagers pay very high car insurance premiums. But how much more do they pay? Many variables feed into insurance rates. While having teen drivers on your policy has a big impact, insurance companies treat the same drivers differently. Some may offer discounts for good grades or participation in a telematics program. Others may simply charge more until teens have more experience and evidence of responsible driving.

Even when they are added to their parents’ policy, the parents can expect their costs to go up on average of 50 to 100 percent. Sometimes the cost of the insurance policy more than doubles, depending on the family’s circumstances. This is part of why some parents get quotes on separate policies for their teens. In some circumstances, it may be cheaper. The best way to tell is by filling out an application form online to get multiple quotes you can compare.

According to the National Safety Council, there are three main reasons that teenagers have so many accidents and get so many tickets. The first is inexperience. This is probably the biggest problem that teens have.

Teenage drivers just don’t have the experience needed to know how to properly handle many situations on the road.

They panic or get impatient and make poor decisions. The catch is, of course, that the only cure for this is more driving. It’s for this reason that most of the states have instituted what’s called a graduated licensing program.

This is a multi-stage program that gradually allows the teen more driving privileges while requiring more practice driving. It also helps to reduce the distractions that are the second reason for high accident rates.

In a graduated licensing program, not only does the teen have to complete a driver’s education course, but he must have his learner’s permit for at least six to nine months before being eligible for an unrestricted license.

During that time, he must have a large number of supervised hours of driving.

Once he gets a license, there are still some restrictions. He can usually only have one non-family member in the car at a time. This helps to cut down on the distractions in the car.

There are also restrictions on the hours he can drive, which severely limit the nighttime driving he can do. This is to help address the third factor cited by the National Safety Council. The vast majority of teen accidents occur at night.

Another reason teens are more likely to get a ticket or be in an accident is that they are more willing to participate in risky behavior.

This could be speeding, drag racing, cutting in and out of traffic, trying to make it through a red light, etc. All of these cause the teen to run a higher risk of being in a wreck.

Ways that Teens Can Save on Insurance

Fortunately for the teen or his parents, or whoever is paying the bills, there are some ways to save money on car insurance for a teenager.

While there’s probably no way to completely make up for the increased insurance cost, these tips could help to chip away at it.

The biggest discount available for teens is a good student discount.

Not all teens will be able to get this, as there are some criteria to meet first. What this is varies from company to company.

First, the student must be under age 25 and usually a full-time student in high school, college, university, or technical school. Also, his grade point average must be no lower than a 3.0. This translates to nothing lower than a “B.”

Some companies will require college students to be on the dean’s list in order to be eligible for this discount.

Sometimes a standardized test score can be used if the student is in a non-traditional learning environment, like a homeschool.

If the college student is away at a school that is more than 100 miles away, let the insurance company know. If he isn’t taking a car with him to the campus, you’ll probably receive a discount, since he’ll have greatly reduced access to a vehicle.

The insurance will still cover him when he is home on holiday as long as you don’t drop him from the policy altogether.

There are also additional safety courses in which teens can enroll. Much like a defensive driver’s course for adults, these courses go beyond driver’s ed and teach additional coping skills.

Some insurance companies even offer their own such courses for their customers. If yours doesn’t, ask if taking one from an independent source could earn your teen a discount upon completion.

Finally, there’s a newer discount some companies are offering to their customers, though it isn’t as widespread as the previous discounts.

Some companies offer a teen monitoring discount if your teen drives with a small device installed in the car. This device sends data about how the teen is driving back to the company.

If the teen is a safe, responsible driver who doesn’t routinely speed, this information will help show the company that, unlike many of his peers, your teen is a safe driver. And it can earn you an additional discount.

It can also prove to be an extra incentive to the teen to drive as if his mom were in the car since he’s being held accountable for his driving habits.

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Ways that Parents Can Save on Insurance

If you’re a parent adding a teen to your policy, it’s a good time to take a hard look at your auto insurance policy to see if you can pick up any additional savings in other places.

First, have your agent go over the discounts the company offers to ensure that you are getting all of them that you can.

For instance, maybe you had an accident a few years ago, but it has now dropped off your record and you are now eligible for a safe driver discount.

Make sure you have all the family cars insured on one policy.

Companies give discounts on each car when you have more than one car on the policy. This also holds for other motorized vehicles, like motorcycles, boats, and RVs. Not all auto insurance companies will cover these, but if they will, it will probably save you some money.

An even bigger policy to combine with the same company is insurance on your home. If you don’t already do so, try to buy both your homeowner’s and auto insurance from the same provider.

Not only will this get you a hefty discount on the car insurance, it could save you 10 to 15 percent on your homeowner’s premium.

Also, evaluate your deductible. The higher you agree to set the deductible, the lower your premiums will be.

Even if you already have a deductible at $500, if you are adding a teen driver, you might want to raise it to $1,000. This alone could save you from 20 to 40 percent on your comp and collision.

Pick a Safe Car

The cheapest way to insure a teen is to have him as another driver on the family cars. If you do get your teen a car, safety should be the number one priority over price and style, though you can certainly find safe and inexpensive, yet stylish, cars.

Of course, the more expensive the car, the higher the insurance costs will be, so keep that in mind. Also stay away from sports cars, as they are the worst cars for young, inexperienced drivers. They will also raise your insurance costs through the roof.

Shopping around is another great way to save and we make it easy and FREE — start with your ZIP code quote tool below!