Best Car Insurance for First-Time Drivers 2024


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Updated: May 20, 2024

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Nationwide and Travelers are the best overall car insurance providers for first-time drivers, offering a blend of affordability and robust coverage.

When shopping for insurance, compare quotes from at least three different companies. Various types of coverage, such as collision and comprehensive, as well as specialized options like gap insurance and accident forgiveness, offer specific benefits to new drivers.

Strong customer service and claims handling track records are also important factors in choosing an insurance provider. Inexperienced drivers — especially teen drivers — are considered higher risk, contributing to higher insurance costs. To save on insurance, consider increasing your deductibles, taking defensive driving courses, being added to a family policy and seeking discounts.

Key Takeaways

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Nationwide and Travelers are the best overall car insurance providers for first-time drivers.

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First-time drivers generally pay higher car insurance rates, with costs varying based on age and experience.

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Different car insurance coverages offer specific benefits to first-time drivers, including collision and comprehensive insurance, gap insurance and new car replacement.

Why Trust MoneyGeek? We ensure that MoneyGeek's content meets our highest editorial standards by carefully scrutinizing it. Throughout each stage, our team writes, checks facts, edits and reviews the content produced to generate accurate information.

2,474,515Quotes Analyzed
 
607Companies Compared
 
3,523Zip Codes

Best Overall Car Insurance for First-Time Drivers

MoneyGeek found that the best insurance providers for first-time drivers are:

  • Nationwide: MoneyGeek score of 97.05 out of 100 ($2,138 annually or $178 monthly)
  • Travelers: MoneyGeek score of 96.77 out of 100 ($3,351 or $279 monthly)
NationwideMG Normalized Score97Annual Premium$2,138Monthly Premium$178
TravelersMG Normalized Score97Annual Premium$3,351Monthly Premium$279
State FarmMG Normalized Score97Annual Premium$2,977Monthly Premium$248
AllstateMG Normalized Score97Annual Premium$2,790Monthly Premium$233
GEICOMG Normalized Score96Annual Premium$3,195Monthly Premium$266
ProgressiveMG Normalized Score96Annual Premium$4,110Monthly Premium$343
FarmersMG Normalized Score95Annual Premium$5,412Monthly Premium$451
Nationwide

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Offers affordable coverage for first-time drivers

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Availability of special coverages like new car replacement, accident forgiveness, mechanical breakdown assistance and vanishing deductibles

cons

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Coverage not available in Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana and Massachusetts

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Lacks common discounts for paying premium in full or manufacturer-installed air bags

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS

Nationwide is a top pick for first-time drivers seeking affordable and robust coverage, according to MoneyGeek's analysis. The provider offers beneficial coverage like accident forgiveness, which is available in select states and helps you avoid rate increases after your first at-fault accident. Nationwide also helps you save with two usage-based telematics programs: SmartRide® rewards safe driving, and SmartMiles® offers pay-per-mile insurance. Plus, if you choose a repair shop from Nationwide's On Your Side Auto Repair Network®, you'll get a written guarantee on repairs for as long as you own or lease the vehicle.

Read MoneyGeek's Nationwide Auto Insurance Review
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MONEYGEEK EXPERT TIP

If you're so new to driving that you don't even have a license yet, MoneyGeek also has resources on finding cheap car insurance with no license.

Best Car Insurance for First-Time Drivers by State

Nationwide scores the highest in 19 states, followed by State Farm with the highest score in 17 states and Travelers in eight states.

Insurance rates for first-time drivers can differ by state due to various factors, including state laws and regulations. Additionally, the frequency of accidents, vehicle crime rates and even weather conditions in a state can influence rates. State-specific economic conditions, like the cost of medical care and vehicle repairs, also play a role. These factors collectively determine the risk that insurers associate with providing coverage in each state.

AlabamaCompanyTravelersMG Normalized Score97Annual Premium$2,056Monthly Premium$171
AlaskaCompanyState FarmMG Normalized Score97Annual Premium$1,629Monthly Premium$136
ArizonaCompanyTravelersMG Normalized Score98Annual Premium$1,796Monthly Premium$150
ArkansasCompanyNationwideMG Normalized Score97Annual Premium$1,726Monthly Premium$144
CaliforniaCompanyTravelersMG Normalized Score97Annual Premium$3,787Monthly Premium$316

Best Car Insurance for First-Time Drivers 25 and Under

Young, first-time drivers may find the best car insurance with:

  • Nationwide: MoneyGeek score of 97 out of 100 ($2,440 annually or $203 monthly)
  • Travelers: MoneyGeek score of 97 out of 100 ($3,667 annually or $306 monthly)

Nationwide and Travelers are both the best and cheapest options, on average, for first-time drivers under 25. Note that the rates above are for full coverage policies.

NationwideMG Normalized Score97Annual Premium$2,440Monthly Premium$203
TravelersMG Normalized Score97Annual Premium$3,667Monthly Premium$306
AllstateMG Normalized Score97Annual Premium$2,941Monthly Premium$245
State FarmMG Normalized Score97Annual Premium$3,359Monthly Premium$280
GEICOMG Normalized Score96Annual Premium$3,275Monthly Premium$273
ProgressiveMG Normalized Score96Annual Premium$4,538Monthly Premium$378
FarmersMG Normalized Score95Annual Premium$5,627Monthly Premium$469

Young drivers, especially those new to driving and in their teens, usually face higher insurance costs due to being rated as a higher risk for accidents. To find more affordable car insurance, it's a good idea to shop around each year and potentially consider switching car insurance companies if you find a better rate.

Best Car Insurance for First-Time Drivers Over 25

If you're newly licensed and 25 or older, you can start your insurance search with:

  • Nationwide: MoneyGeek score of 97 out of 100 ($2,055 annually or $171 monthly)
  • Travelers: MoneyGeek scores of 97 out of 100 ($3,202 annually or $267 monthly)

Both Nationwide and Travelers consistently offer the best car insurance policies for new drivers. Note that the rates above are for full coverage policies.

NationwideMG Normalized Score97Annual Premium$2,055Monthly Premium$171
TravelersMG Normalized Score97Annual Premium$3,202Monthly Premium$267
State FarmMG Normalized Score97Annual Premium$2,867Monthly Premium$239
AllstateMG Normalized Score97Annual Premium$2,681Monthly Premium$223
GEICOMG Normalized Score96Annual Premium$3,168Monthly Premium$264
ProgressiveMG Normalized Score96Annual Premium$3,950Monthly Premium$329
FarmersMG Normalized Score95Annual Premium$5,145Monthly Premium$429

If you're an older driver but new to the road, you'll likely pay more for insurance, although not as much as younger new drivers.

Starting out with no insurance history or driving record means higher premiums, regardless of age. Having a solid credit history and maintaining a clean driving record can help keep your costs down.

Best Types of Coverage for First-Time Drivers

From collision and comprehensive insurance to specialized options like accident forgiveness, gap insurance and usage-based telematics, various coverages offer specific advantages to help new drivers manage costs and risks on the road.

Coverage Type
What It Covers
Benefits for First-Time Drivers

Collision Insurance

Covers the cost of repairing or replacing your car after a collision with another vehicle or stationary like a tree or light pole. Also covers rollover accidents and pothole damage.

Helps manage out-of-pocket costs after an accident

Comprehensive Insurance

Covers non-collision damages like theft, vandalism, fires or natural disasters

Protects against a wide range of unexpected events

Roadside Assistance

Provides help for flat tires, dead batteries, towing and other minor roadside issues

Offers peace of mind for new drivers unfamiliar with car issues

Accident Forgiveness

Prevents your premium from increasing after your first at-fault accident

Reduces financial stress after a first-time collision

Rental Reimbursement

Covers the cost of a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired

Keeps you mobile even when your car is in the shop

When determining how much car insurance you need, MoneyGeek recommends full coverage car insurance with liability levels of 100/300/100 for a greater level of financial protection from at-fault accidents.. If you own a vehicle that isn't worth very much, and you can afford to replace it out of pocket, you might consider carrying affordable liability-only coverage. However, a minimum coverage policy can leave you vulnerable to a substantial financial loss in an at-fault accident.

When weighing your options, remember that coverage isn't the only factor to consider. Exceptional customer service and a strong track record in handling claims are equally important. The best insurance companies are those that are there for you when you need them the most.

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Why First-Time Drivers Pay More for Car Insurance

Car insurance costs tend to be higher for first-time drivers, primarily because their inexperience is seen as a higher liability risk by insurers. These novice drivers are statistically more prone to accidents than their experienced counterparts, who have a track record of safe driving and fewer infractions. Moreover, this increase in insurance rates is even more significant for younger drivers, especially teenagers, who are categorized as the most high-risk group due to their age, lack of driving experience and high accident rate and careless driving behaviors.

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WHEN ARE YOU NO LONGER CONSIDERED A NEW DRIVER?

The time frame for being considered a "new driver" can vary depending on the insurance company and state regulations. Generally, you may be considered a new driver for the first three to five years of having a driver's license. After this period, and especially if you've maintained a clean driving record, insurance companies are likely to consider you a more experienced driver, which could lead to lower average premiums.

What Is a First-Time Driver?

A first-time driver is anyone with no driving experience. First-time drivers include:

  • Teens who have just finished driver's education
  • Young adults who didn’t get their license until after graduation
  • Adults who waited until later in life to get their license

Most first-time drivers get their license before the age of 18. However, it is common for people to wait until adulthood to get their license in areas with excellent public transportation options or those that rely on rideshare services.

But no matter the reason, first-time drivers of any age can expect to pay more for car insurance. Though a first-time driver who gets their license at 40 will pay less than a driver who gets their license at 18, they will still pay significantly more than a 40-year-old driver with 20 years of driving experience.

How to Buy Car Insurance for First-Time Drivers

When shopping for car insurance for the first time, you will need to gather your personal information, including:

  • Driver's license
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Address, including ZIP code
  • Employment information
  • Driving history
  • Prior insurance information (if you’ve been insured before)
  • Marital status
  • Education level
  • Vehicle information (make, model, year, VIN, etc.)

You don't have to wait until your new car is sitting in your driveway to start thinking about insurance. In fact, you can get a car insurance quote even before you've made the vehicle purchase, as long as you have accurate vehicle information. Most dealerships require proof of insurance before they'll hand over the keys, so having your coverage in place ensures a smooth and hassle-free experience when purchasing or leasing a vehicle.

You will also want to do some personal research before getting a quote. For example, if your employer, alma mater or another organization you are affiliated with offers a group discount with certain insurance companies, that is something you want to know ahead of time.

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WHERE’S THE BEST PLACE TO GET INSURANCE?

In most cases, the only place to get standard car insurance is from a car insurance company. Car dealers typically offer gap insurance but most don't offer full coverage auto insurance policies (the exception is Tesla, which has its own insurance product). Purchasing gap insurance from a car dealer typically costs much more than adding the coverage to your current insurance policy.

MoneyGeek found that Nationwide is the best car insurance provider for first-time drivers.

However, always compare quotes from at least three different insurance companies to find the best deal. Keep in mind that when you buy a car from a dealership, the price you're paying doesn't include insurance or car registration. New cars are not automatically insured or registered with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Whether you're looking for cheap car insurance for young drivers or you've just gotten your license later in life, shopping around is the preferred way to obtain coverage.

How to Save on Insurance for First-Time Drivers

To find affordable car insurance, especially for first-time drivers, shop around for quotes, consider increasing your deductible, take defensive driving courses and look for applicable discounts. Additionally, keeping a clean driving record and choosing a less expensive or older car can further reduce your premiums.

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    Shop around

    Compare at least three quotes from different car insurance companies to make sure you have the best possible coverage. Different insurance companies use different pricing models, so the same level of coverage can result in three completely different quotes. The best provider for you might change over time as your insurance needs change. It's also a good idea to shop around for new quotes every year.

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    Increase your deductibles

    A higher deductible means you'll pay more out-of-pocket in the event of a claim, but it also reduces the insurer's risk, leading to lower premiums. Collision and comprehensive coverages are subject to separate deductibles, but there is no deductible for liability coverage.

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    Look for discounts

    First-time drivers can benefit from various car insurance discounts to make coverage more affordable. These discounts can range from good student and distant student discounts to safe driving programs that reward you for completing a driving course.

    This can save you a significant amount on your insurance rate — up to 40% or more in some cases — depending on the insurance company you choose and how many discounts you qualify for. GEICO, State Farm, Farmers, Esurance, Nationwide, Allstate, The Hartford, Liberty Mutual, Progressive and USAA are among the major insurers that offer discounts for taking a safe driving course.

    By taking advantage of these offers, you can significantly reduce your premiums, making it easier to manage the costs associated with being a new driver.

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    Keep your driving record clean

    Avoiding accidents, speeding tickets and other blemishes on your driving record are some of the best ways to keep your insurance costs low. It's worth noting that driving offenses typically stay on your motor vehicle record for three to five years, depending on your state. Some states even offer the option to wipe off a blemish from your record after successfully completing an approved safe driving program. However, an insurer will raise your rates for several years even if an infraction like a speeding ticket is removed from your motor vehicle record after completing a safe driving program.

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    Choose your car carefully

    An older or less expensive car will cost less to repair, saving you money on comprehensive and collision coverage. Choose a vehicle that is cheap enough that you can replace it out of pocket, and you can skip comprehensive and collision coverage entirely, opting for liability-only coverage to save money on your insurance. MoneyGeek found that the cheapest models to insure on average include the Honda CR-V, Subaru Outback and Honda Fit.

FAQ About Buying Car Insurance for First-Time Drivers

New drivers understandably have lots of questions about buying their first auto policy. Knowing the answers to some of the most common ones will help ensure you get the best rate.

What company has the best car insurance for first-time drivers?
How do you get an auto insurance quote for the first time?
How much is car insurance for first-time drivers?
Can you buy car insurance from a car dealer?

About Rachael Brennan


 Rachael Brennan headshot

Rachael Brennan is a licensed insurance agent with over a decade of experience in the industry. She holds a property and casualty (P&C) license across all 50 states and a life, health, and accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) license in New York and surrounding states. She writes personal finance and insurance content for MoneyGeek, specializing in property, casualty, health, life, and accidental death and disability insurance.

Brennan earned her Bachelor of Science in Communications from Texas A&M University-Commerce. As a writer, she uses her insurance and personal finance experience to share practical knowledge and help people make informed financial decisions.


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