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car insurance for a 16 year old

When your teenager has just turned 16, there's nothing as exciting and liberating for them than getting their eager paws on a driver's license, and being handed the keys to take a family car out for a spin. But before they can relish a sweet taste of freedom of being in the driver's seat and cruising down an open road, they'll need car insurance.

As a parent, you're probably tempted to hide the car keys and have them hitch a ride with you indefinitely—it's far less trouble and less expensive that way. But the reality is they're going to want to be in the driver's seat ASAP.

Whether they're getting a policy on their own or hopping on your existing policy, let's look at how much it costs to add a 16-year-old to car insurance versus how much car insurance is for a 16-year-old. We'll also suggest ways to find affordable auto insurance for a 16-year-old.

  • Car insurance for a 16-year-old is typically far more expensive because they're considered high-risk.
  • It's usually a lot cheaper to add a teen driver to an existing family policy as a secondary driver. 
  • Car insurance usually decreases after a teen is 16, with a dramatic decrease once they turn 25. 
  • To get the most affordable auto insurance rates, it's important to shop around.

Why is car insurance for 16-year-olds so expensive?

There is no way around it: car insurance for a new, teenage driver comes with a hefty price tag. So how much does insurance cost for a 16-year-old? It turns out the average rate is nearly $7,000 a year for full coverage. This breaks down to nearly $584 a month. (Yes, you read that correctly.) That average rate is more than $5,000 more than the average for 30-year-old drivers in the U.S.

Because younger drivers lack experience on the road and have a higher rate of incidents and accidents than other age groups, they're seen as high risk. In turn, auto insurance companies put them in a "high risk" category, and their premiums are more expensive.

"Rates for auto insurance for teenage drivers are always higher than for other drivers because as a group they pose a higher risk of accidents than more experienced drivers," says Loretta Worters, vice president of media relations for the Information Insurance Institute (III).

"Adding a teenager to an insurance policy can mean a 50% — or even a 100% —increase in the parents’ insurance premium."

Some somber facts: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), car crashes are the second leading cause of death among teenagers, points out Worters. "Immaturity and lack of driving experience are the two main factors leading to the high crash rate among young people ages 15 to 19."

Sure, you might be eager to keep your teenager at home and wait until they're 30 before handing them the car keys. But realistically, you'll need to deal with the added costs of getting auto insurance coverage for your mini-me.

While insurance for the newbie driver in your life will cost money, there are savvy ways to put money back in your wallet and make sure your 16-year-old has sufficient coverage. Let's look at a few ways how:

Average cost of car insurance for 16-year-olds

Let's take a look at the average cost of car insurance for a 16-year-old with his or her own policy:

  • State minimum coverage: $2,593
  • Liability limits of 50/100/50: $2,957
  • Full coverage: $6,930

Mind you, this is just an average. The rate can vary depending on the state you live in, whether your child is getting their own policy or is hopping on a parents' household policy.

Now, the cost of adding a teen to your existing policy is typically far less expensive. This is for a handful of reasons: Teens don't have a driving record, aren't usually eligible for discounts, and are considered high-risk. In turn, the cost of car insurance would be significantly more expensive than being added as a secondary driver to your policy.

This is evidenced by data we pulled comparing car insurance rates in 10 zip codes in each state.

Average cost of car insurance for 16-year-old male vs female drivers

Ladies win hands-down in a battle of the sexes over which gender typically gets cheaper car insurance. The average cost of car insurance for a 16-year-old identifying female hovers at $6,652, for a policy that includes comprehensive and collision coverage, and liability limits of 100/300/100. If paid monthly, that equals $554.33 a month.

So how much is car insurance for a 16-year-old male per month? The average national cost for a male for the same type and amount of coverage is $7,483, which breaks down to $623.58 a month. Compared to their male counterparts, a 16-year-old female pays $920 less yearly than a male.

Take a look at a chart that displays the average insurance costs for a 16-year-old female and for a 16-year-old male, broken down by state, compared to the cost of insurance if added to their parent's policy.

Average Car Insurance Rates for 16-Year-Old
StateMale Teen Policy RateParent Policy with Male Teen AddedFemale Teen Policy RateParent Policy with Female Teen Added
North Carolina$3,452$2,738$3,471$2,738
North Dakota$6,519$2,417$5,467$2,126
New Hampshire$7,536$3,011$6,563$2,702
New Jersey$7,269$4,371$6,474$3,990
New Mexico$8,305$3,290$7,325$2,976
New York$6,522$4,107$5,089$3,476
Rhode Island$11,774$5,388$10,023$4,603
South Carolina$6,886$3,768$6,188$3,395
South Dakota$7,323$2,478$6,182$2,140
West Virginia$6,544$3,030$5,603$2,649

State minimum coverage for a 16-year-old

To be a legal and legit driver on the road, you'll need to meet a state's minimum car insurance requirements. Each state will be different, so you'll want to check your state's DMV for the deets. While it's cheapest to get the barebones, minimum coverage, it also means you're driving around with limited protection.

In most states, buying just the required coverage means your policy will cover others' injuries and car damage, but not for your own.

Check out the charts to see how much the average minimum car insurance coverage costs, per year in each state, should a teen purchase their own policy:

State Minimum Coverage for 16-Year-Old
StateFemale Teen Policy RateParent Policy with Female Teen AddedMale Teen Policy RateParent Policy with Male Teen Added
North Carolina$1,640$1,257$1,633$1,257
North Dakota$1,714$668$1,924$734
New Hampshire$2,779$1,185$3,157$1,306
New Jersey$2,810$1,868$2,968$2,008
New Mexico$2,589$1,058$2,903$1,172
New York$2,256$1,594$2,722$1,767
Rhode Island$3,997$1,931$4,668$2,257
South Carolina$2,043$1,138$2,270$1,210
South Dakota$1,573$562$1,784$641
West Virginia$2,127$1,051$2,424$1,185

How to get the cheapest car insurance at 16-years-old

Your best bet for getting inexpensive car insurance for your 16-year-old is to have them added as a secondary driver to your existing policy. Otherwise, expect to pay out the wazoo for a teen's auto insurance policy.

To save money, some insurance companies offer discounts for students with good grades, mentions Worter.

"The good student discount is generally available to students who have a grade point average of a B or higher," says Worter. "Many companies offer programs that foster safe driving habits, such as online safety courses for young drivers and parents, contracts between young drivers and parents, educational videos and practice driving logs."

Some insurers might offer a discount to policyholders with teens who install electronic monitoring devices to track the way teens drive in their cars. "Insurance companies are also helping to reduce the number of accidents involving teen drivers by subsidizing the cost of these electronic monitoring devices that parents can install in their cars," says Worter.

Let's take a look at the rates of major insurance carriers to insure your teen:

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies for 16-Year-Old
CompanyParent Policy with Female, Age 16 AddedParent Policy with Male, Age 16 Added
21st Century Centennial$2,209$2,450
Mountain Laurel$2,431$2,749
Mid-Century Ins Co$2,909$3,066
State Farm$3,022$3,758

Best car insurance for 16-year-olds

As there is no one-size-fits-all car insurance policy for anyone, let alone 16-year-old teens, the best car insurance for a teen hinges on what's best for your situation and budget.

To figure out what the best car insurance is, do some comparison shopping, and look at the type of coverage, coverage limits, as well as discounts available from different insurers. Check to see the cost difference between a separate policy for your teen versus adding them to your family policy.

How much does it cost to add a 16-year-old to car insurance?

As mentioned before, the easiest and cheapest route for parents of young drivers to take is to add a teen to their own policy. It's much less expensive than a teen purchasing their own policy, which also includes a bunch of rigamarole.

Remember: insurance companies base the rates of premiums on a handful of factors—think experience and driving record of the policyholder. Because a 16-year-old has neither, that means their rates will be higher.

Plus, teens wouldn't be eligible for certain discounts that a parent, who has a driving record, experience, and has carried insurance for a number of years, will be able to swoop in on, such as a multi-vehicle, multi-policy, no-claims period discount, and loyalty discounts.

While there's certainly no one-size-fits-all, we compared 10 ZIP codes in each state. The household profile we used owned a 2017 Honda accord and was driven by a 45-year-old man with full coverage. After adding a 16-year-old teen to the policy:

  • The average household's car insurance bill spiked 118%.
  • A teenage boy was more pricey. The average bill rose 129%, compared with 107% for teenage girls.
Driver Age 16Cost to Add to Parent Policy Full CoverageCost to Add to Policy State Minimum

Frequently asked questions

Can a 16-year-old get their own car insurance?

Yes, a 16-year-old teen can hop on their own car insurance policy. However, it will most likely be far more expensive than if they were added as a secondary driver to their parents' or guardians' family policy. Until your teen is the age of majority in your state, you will most likely need to be listed on the insurance policy, too.

What percentage of 16-year-olds have their own car?

While it's hard to say exactly how many 16-year-olds have their own ride, they seem to be less into driving and getting their driver's license than the teens of decades past.

Data from the Federal Highway Administration reveals that in 1984, nearly half of 16-year-olds in the U.S. could drive legally. In 2018, that number dipped dramatically to 25.6%.

This might be due to the mere fact that teens live on their phones. Or we can chalk it up to the rise of ride-sharing in recent years.

How does car insurance for a 16-year-old compare to other ages?

Car insurance for a 16-year-old driver is typically significantly higher than other ages. That's because they are considered high-risk, as they lack experience, a driving record, and data shows that they are more likely to get involved in a car crash than any other age group. In fact, car accidents are still the top killer of teens.

Do car insurance rates go down after age 16?

As long as you maintain a clean driving record, usually, the cost of premiums will go down after age 16. Typically, once a driver turns 25, there is a dramatic decrease in car insurance rates.

Does a 16-year-old have to have full coverage?

As laid out by state mandates, teens are required to have the minimum required coverage for car insurance in their states. The types of coverage and amounts vary according to where they live. Most states, however, require that insurance pays for damage or injuries to the other driver.

If a loan on the car still needs to be paid back, then the lender usually requires full coverage—collision, comprehensive, and liability insurance.

How much is insurance on a sports car for a 16-year-old?

Car insurance rates depend on a handful of factors, including the type of car one drives. Usually, insuring a sports car is more expensive than other types of vehicles. That's because they're a higher risk to insure than say, a sedan or minivan.

Getting car insurance on a sports car for a teen can be a double-whammy. It's expensive to insure a sports car, and it's also more expensive to insure a 16-year-old. So you can expect insurance on a sports car for a 16-year-old to be significantly more expensive.

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