Car insurance for a 17-year-old driver is not cheap; there’s no way around that. Insurance is more expensive for teens because they have minimal experience behind the wheel and high accident frequency rates. Car insurance companies are aware of this and charge policyholders more for teen-driver coverage. However, there are some things you can do to save money on your teen’s car insurance.
How Much Does Car Insurance Cost for a 17-Year-Old?
The easiest way to save money on car insurance for 17-year-olds is to add them to a parent’s existing policy rather than trying to get them a policy of their own. For example, if you add a teen to your car insurance, you’ll pay an average of $3,139 a year. That’s quite an increase, but if you bought your teen their own policy, you would pay $4,621 on average or $1,482 more.
Many rating factors affect what you pay for car insurance, even for teens, so you may find different rates. However, the fact that it’s more expensive to get a separate policy for a teen will hold true, and most 17-year-olds are not legally allowed to purchase their own car insurance policy without the consent of a parent or guardian.
Family Policy vs. Individual Policy for a 17-Year-Old
Average Annual Premium$3,139
Average Annual Premium$4,621
This is 47% more expensive.
Cheapest Car Insurance for 17-Year-Old Males and Females
Male teens pay about 12% more than females for car insurance. This difference translates to an average increase of $398 to insure a male teen over a female teen driver. The rate is higher because insurance companies have determined that males are more likely than females to engage in risky behaviors behind the wheel. Additionally, male teens receive more driving citations than female drivers, have higher accident frequency and file more insurance claims than females.
Annual Car Insurance Rates for Males and Females
Average Annual Premium$2,940
Average Annual Premium$3,338
This is 14% more expensive.
Cheapest Car Insurance Companies for 17-Year-Old Drivers
The best way to save on car insurance is to shop around. The least expensive quote we found for adding a 17-year-old driver to the family policy was with GEICO at an average of $2,823. The most expensive was Nationwide, with an increase of $928, which translates to $3,751 to add a teen to your family policy. That’s over 30% more than GEICO's premium. To find the cheapest car insurance companies for 17-year-old drivers, we looked at figures from companies that write policies in at least 30 states, so you may or may not have better success with a local company in your area.
Cheapest Companies for 17-Year-Olds Added to Family Policy
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If it’s not possible to add your teen to your policy, the rate for an individual policy for a 17-year-old driver is much higher. State Farm had the lowest quote at $3,213 average, and Progressive was by far the most expensive, with a whopping $7,353 average. That’s a difference of $4,140 or nearly 129% higher.
Cheapest Companies for a 17-Year-Old's Individual Policy
There are certain add-on coverages you may want to include on a policy for a teen driver. Roadside assistance covers towing, locksmith services, flat tire changes, gas delivery and other needs in a car breakdown. Knowing that your teen has help on the road if a problem arises provides peace of mind and promotes their safety. You may also consider rental car coverage since teens are more likely to experience an accident. If they do, a rental car is provided, up to policy limits, while the car is being repaired.
There is also accident forgiveness, where the first at-fault accident a previously clean motor vehicle record driver experiences does not cause a premium increase. Whether it applies to a teen driver depends on the insurance company, but if it is available, it is worth adding to the policy.
Car Choice Matters When Insuring a Young Driver
The kind of car your teen drives will also affect rates. A Ford Mustang may be what your teen has their heart set on, but insuring a Mustang is quite expensive — about $1,400 more than insuring a more practical Toyota Camry, which translates to an increase of about 44%. A 2015 Mustang has a top speed of 149 mph and can go from 0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds. By contrast, the Camry has a top speed of about 120 mph. Some teens may be tempted to push the Mustang to its limits, and with higher speeds comes a higher risk of accidents. Owning a sports car will push premiums up for anyone, not just teens.
Teen Car Insurance Rates by Vehicle Type
This is 45% more expensive.
Strategies to Save Money on Car Insurance for a 17-Year-Old
The most impactful way to save money on teen insurance will come from adding a 17-year-old to a family insurance policy rather than attempting to insure them on a separate policy. It’s even better if they can drive the family car unless the family car is a racy sports car. Adding a 17-year-old to your family policy would be cheapest through GEICO, at an average of $2,823 annually. The most inexpensive policy for a teen of the same age getting an individual policy would be at least $3,213 on average with State Farm, but it could be higher with other companies. That represents a savings of $390 or about 12%.
Car insurance companies base their rates on their customers' driving history, among many other rating factors. Teens don't have an extensive driving history, and the bigger issue is that actuarial data shows teen drivers have a higher rate of accident frequency and reckless driving than adult drivers.
This leads to higher rates. Even if your teen is a very safe driver, insurance companies still consider them a higher risk to cover. However, there are some money-saving actions you can take.
Compare Quotes for the Best Policy for Your Family
It pays to shop around and compare quotes to find the best car insurance for your 17-year-old driver. Comparison shopping among carriers could save you as much as 50% over the most expensive carrier. The Insurance Information Institute recommends getting quotes from at least three companies before you settle on one. You may want to consider changing insurance companies to get the cheapest rate.
Monitor Your Teen Driver to Ensure a Clean Driving Record
If your teen driver gets into an accident or gets a citation, your rates will go up quite a bit. For example, if your teenage son gets one speeding ticket in California, your premium could go up by an average of $1,242. A teenage daughter caught speeding will get slightly less of an increase, but still significant at $904 a year. As parents, you may sometimes wonder if your teen is paying attention to anything you say, but they are. Here are some things you can do to promote safe driving with your teen:
- Model good driving behavior yourself.
- Let your teen drive while you serve as the passenger whenever possible.
- Limit the number of teen passengers they’re allowed to drive with.
Find Companies That Offer Teen Discounts
If your teen has a solid academic record, many car insurance companies offer a good student discount. For example, GEICO gives a 15% discount for full-time students with a "B" average or better.
You may also want to look into teen driver telematics programs, such as State Farm's Steer Clear or Allstate's teenSMART. The teenSMART training program may help teens avoid collisions by providing feedback on their skills that is immediate and interactive. They receive a discount for being teenSMART certified. Steer Clear is for under age 25 drivers with clean motor vehicle records. They get a discount for completing the program, which focuses on learning safe driving habits.
Defensive driving courses can also provide a discount, although you should check with your insurance company because some companies don't offer this. A defensive driving course for your teen is a good idea anyway because it will give them more experience behind the wheel. This will lead to fewer accidents, saving money for years to come.
Lower the Coverage Amount
You could lower your coverage amounts to save some money in the short run, although this is not a strategy we would recommend. For one thing, that teen driver you now have on your car insurance policy may get into an accident. If your teen totals your car, you'll have to either repair or replace it out of your pocket.
You will only be able to drop collision and comprehensive insurance if your car is paid for. If you have a loan or lease on it, the finance company will require that you have full coverage. If you have paid for, cheaper cars, you might be able to get by with liability-only car insurance, but it's still a risk and can leave you financially vulnerable to a significant loss for an at-fault accident.
You could also consider increasing the collision, comprehensive or both deductibles on your policy. Just be sure you can cover the new, higher deductible so that you're not in a bad financial situation if there's an at-fault accident or off-road incident and you need to make a collision or comprehensive claim.
Choose a Sedan Over a Sports Car
While your teen may be eyeing a new, flashy sports car, that might not be the best idea for a 17-year-old driver. Luxury cars are also expensive to insure, mostly because the cost of repair is higher. The difference in price between adding your teen to the family insurance if they drive a Toyota Camry vs. a Ford Mustang is about $1,400.
Impress upon them that teens are likely to get into accidents and that a flashy sports car is something they can get when they have more driving experience, when they can afford it and when they are no longer on your insurance.
Why Is Car Insurance So Expensive for a 17-Year-Old?
Car insurance for teen drivers is expensive because they have less driving experience than almost anyone else on the road. They're not used to making quick decisions in traffic, and they're not as adept at reading other driver's intentions. Driving takes practice to become good at, and some driver's education courses only offer a few hours of road experience before students test for their licenses. Combine this lack of experience with less maturity and some overconfidence, and it's easy to see why 17-year-olds are more likely to get into accidents.
Traffic Statistics for 17-Year-Old Drivers
Statistically speaking, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for U.S. teenage drivers. Teens are 1.5 times more likely to get into an accident the first month they have their license compared to teens with at least a few years of driving experience. Drivers who are 16 or 17 years old are almost twice as likely to get into an accident as teens who are 18 and 19. When drivers reach their 20s, they are about 22% less likely to get into a crash.
The table below shows the fatal crashes per 100 million miles driven as compared to the driver's age group, according to police-reported crashes in the U.S. from 2014-2015. Drivers ages 16 and 17 have the highest rates of fatal crashes per 100 million miles driven compared to 18-19 and 20-24 age groups.
Accidents per 100 Million Miles Driven
Seventeen-year-old drivers drive an average of 7,624 miles per year and suffer an average of five fatal crashes for every 100,000 drivers. By comparison, drivers aged 30–59 drive an average of 15,291 miles a year and suffer slightly less than six fatalities for every 100,000 drivers. So, even though there are fewer deaths per capita, there are more deaths per miles driven.
States With the Highest Car Insurance Cost for a 17-Year-Old
Some states are more expensive for teen drivers than others. We found rates ranging from a low of $704 average in Hawaii for a teen added to their State Farm policy to a high of $6,674 in Louisiana with State Farm. In general, car insurance is more expensive in Louisiana, so it would make sense that insurance for teens is also more costly.
Top 10 Most Expensive States for 17-Year-Old Drivers
Different companies can offer different rates, as well. A company that may offer the lowest price in one state may not have the rock bottom price in another. Compare rates for teen drivers carefully to get the best car insurance for a 17-year-old, and get quotes from at least three companies.
Cheapest Car Insurance for Teens by State
Cheapest Car Insurance Company by State
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About Gail Kellner
- AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "Rates of Motor Vehicle Crashes, Injuries and Deaths in Relation to Driver Age, United States, 2014-2015." Accessed August 14, 2020.
- Car and Driver. "Performance Numbers: 2015 Ford Mustang GT vs. 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost." Accessed August 12, 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Motor Vehicle Safety. Teen Drivers." Accessed August 12, 2020.
- Insurance Information Institute. "How to Save Money on Car Insurance." Accessed August 12, 2020.
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "Fatality Facts 2018: Teenagers." Accessed August 14, 2020.
- TopSpeed. "2015 Toyota Camry–Driven." Accessed August 12, 2020.
- U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. "Average Annual Miles per Driver by Age Group." Accessed August 14, 2020.