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Adding A Teen To My Car Insurance Policy Costs How Much?

By Posted : 10/21/2010

How to reduce car insurance rates for teen driversIf you're about to buy car insurance for your teen driver, prepare to open your wallet.

The cost of adding a teen to your auto insurance policy will increase your annual insurance premium by an average of 44 percent if you have one car in your household, 58 percent for a two-car household and 62 percent for a three-car household, according to an Insurance.com analysis of insurance quotes received by site users in the last 12 months (see chart below).

The cost of adding a teen driver to your auto insurance policy

 

Number of vehicles in household

Average annual premium for one applicant plus spouse

Average annual premium for parents plus one child age 16-19

Difference

Percent increase
to add teen driver

1

$1,418

$2,039

$621

44%

2

$1,848

$2,912

$1,064

58%

3

$2,286

$3,707

$1,421

 

62%

 

Source: Insurance.com. Average annual premium is for all levels of liability coverage requested by Insurance.com users. Comprehensive and collision coverage is not included. Data is from October 2009 through September 2010.

Reducing the auto insurance cost for teen drivers

- Ask for a good student discount. Most insurers offer discounts for students who maintain at least a 3.0 grade-point average.

- Earn discounts for community involvement. Ask if your insurer offers discounts for membership in groups such as Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts or other civic organizations.

- Choose a safe car that's inexpensive to insure. Luxury cars, flashy sports cars, and large SUVs, for example, are expensive to insure.

- Enroll your teen in a safety driving class. Many car insurance companies offer discounts for completion of driver education courses.

- Compare car insurance quotes to find the best deal.

There are ways to decrease auto insurance rates for a teen driver, but buying a car for the teen and putting him on his own policy isn't one of them, according to Insurance.com's analysis. The average annual rate quoted for a teen driver is $2,267. (This average includes all liability coverage levels.) Compare that to an average cost increase of $621 for adding a teen to the parents' policy -- that means you'll pay 365 percent more by placing the teen on his or her own policy.

Teens are more expensive to insure than older drivers because they're more likely to get in car accidents. The crash rate per mile driven for 16- to 19-year-olds is four times higher than the risk for older drivers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The risk is highest for 16-year-olds, who have a crash rate twice as high as 18- and 19-year-olds. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers, accounting for one third of all deaths of 16- to 19-year-olds, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The view from the passenger seat

A combination of immaturity and inexperience makes teens dangerous behind the wheel, and the brave souls who teach new drivers agree.

Teens have the physical ability to react quickly, but they haven't developed the skills to scan the road and anticipate what might happen, says Randy Bleicher of Phoenix, chief instructor for the Ford Driving Skills for Life, which has locations nationwide, and a former race car driver and instructor with the Bob Bondurant High Performance Driving School.

"If you're a good driver, you're looking well down the road," he says. "You see the brake lights come on three cars in front of you." But teens tend to have tunnel vision, looking over the hood at the car in front of them and missing signs of danger, such as a driver backing out of a driveway or someone speeding up for a red light.

"They definitely are too trusting of other drivers," observes Hale Gammill, director of driving school operations in Southern California for DriversEd.com and a past executive director of The Driving School Association of the Americas. "They think, 'If I'm a good driver and do everything right, then I should be fine.'"

Teens also don't have experience in emergency maneuvers.

"A lot of kids are really afraid to turn the car quickly because they think the car will roll over," Bleicher says. In the Ford Driving Skills for Life course, teens receive hands-on instruction in specially equipped cars that simulate wet-road or potentially dangerous driving conditions. They drive under supervision on road courses to learn how to recognize hazards, handle vehicles, and manage space and speed.

 

Average auto insurance rates by age for a 100/300/100 liability policy

 

Age group

Average rate

16-19

$2,999

20-24

$2,040

25-29

$1,707

30-34

$1,591

35-39

$1,610

40-44

$1,603

45-49

$1,478

50-54

$1,284

55-59

$1,214

60-64

$1,169

65-69

$1,244

70-74

$1,187

75 and up

$1,203

Source: Insurance.com. Rates shown above are for a one-person policy. Average rates are shown for a policy with coverage of $100,000 bodily injury per person per accident, $300,000 bodily injury for accident, $100,000 property damage per accident. Collision and comprehensive coverage was not included.

     

The "everybody's doing it" mentality

Overconfidence also puts teens at risk.

"They've ridden the Disneyland rides, maybe ridden a go-cart and have played [driving] video games, and they think there's not much to it," Gammill says. "They see everybody doing it, and they hear about everybody passing the driving test."

Teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use when compared to other age groups, according to the CDC. And some teens don't understand the significant responsibility they have when driving, says Maria Wojtczak, who with her husband, Richard Wojtczak, started DrivingMBA in Scottsdale and Chandler, Ariz., after nine kids from the Scottsdale Unified School District died in car wrecks in 2002 and 2003.

"Some kids still think they can text and drive," she says, even after they see first-hand how texting and driving leads to crashing in a driving simulator.

And don't think your straight-A student who wins good citizenship awards is immune to bad driving judgment.

"Being extremely bright doesn't necessarily translate into good driving," Wojtczak says. "Often it doesn't."

She observes that some of the most admirable, high-achieving kids tend to overanalyze and approach driving with perfectionism, which doesn't work well on the road, where things can go wrong quickly.

All this adds up to high car insurance rates for teen drivers. Even teens with clean accident records will face high car insurance rates for several years due to their lack of driving experience. At age 25, rates typically begin to decline, and middle-aged drivers enjoy the best rates. It isn't until about age 65 that rates begin to creep back up again (see chart below).

Wojtczak advises parents to spend at least double the time with their kids that their state requires for driving practice. "Don't rush the process," she says. "Some kids will be ready [to drive on their own] in six months, and for some kids it will take two years."


Barbara Marquand is a writer with more than twenty years of reporting experience for newspapers, magazines and Web sites. She writes frequently about insurance and other business topics.

 

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