Sweet 16: good for parties, bad for car insurance rates. How much should you expect to pay?
Nearly every factor within car insurance premiums comes down to one simple question: what’s the risk? Statistically speaking, a 16-year-old teen driver is less experienced and thus more likely to receive a citation or cause an accident. In the eyes of an insurance company, that means more risk and a greater need for financial protection, i.e., higher premiums. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the average 16-year-old in 2019 paid an annual premium of $6,647 for insurance compared to the national average of $1,470.
There are many things an insurance company looks at when determining the car insurance rate of a driver. Age, gender, where you live, and what you drive affect how much you pay. And when you’re paying significantly more to insure a newly licensed driver, you want to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. So, let's break it down — starting first with which company should you choose.
In our survey of average premiums for 16-year-old teen drivers, we identified Nationwide as the best auto insurance company for a typical 16-year-old driver, with State Farm second. Please note: you or your teen driver might not fit The Zebra's composite profile, so be sure to compare a diverse collection of insurance companies to find the best rate for you. Because auto policy rates change so much as drivers age, we recommend comparing car insurance rates every six months.
Although the selected profile and policy might differ from your family's, you can use the below data as a foundational jumping-off point.
|Insurance company||Average premium: 6-month policy|
Age is an importation rating factor for drivers. Drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 pay more than do drivers in any other age group. These elevated auto insurance rates come down to this group's lack of driving experience and young drivers' risk-taking tendencies, which could lead to more frequent claims and greater costs incurred by an insurance company.
|Age||Average 6-month premium|
Just like the age of your child, gender can affect their insurance premiums. Statistically, a young male driver is more likely to receive a citation or be in an accident than a young female driver. As such, they are more expensive to insure. On average, 16-year-old males pay over $440 more per six-month policy period for insurance than their female counterparts. Still, it's worth considering that as you age, the difference between men and women becomes less significant. In fact, some states don't use gender as a metric for determining car insurance rates.
Ready to start shopping? Enter your ZIP code below to see rates for your family! If you're still looking for ways to save or additional insurance information, keep reading.
Where you live also plays a big role for your and your young driver’s insurance premiums. Because insurance as a whole is state-regulated and ZIP-code specific, variations amongst the area you live will cause the cost for car insurance to vary greatly.
States with high bodily injury claims or states with no-fault laws such as Michigan or Florida will cost more to get insured. Moreover, the number of drivers in your state can also impact your child’s insurance rate. States with a low population density where there is less bodily injury or overall liability insurance claims, such as midwestern states like Ohio, tend to have lower premiums than states that are more populated.
The more drivers your state has, the more likely you are to be in close proximity with other drivers, thereby increasing the potential of a collision. Insurance companies need to account for that additional risk.
|State||Average 6-month premium, 16-year-old driver|
The type of car your teen drives will have an impact on their car insurance rates. For example, a teenager with an off-road capable truck is statistically more likely to have a higher insurance rate than a modest sedan. As a good general rule, any vehicle with a high MSRP will have a correspondingly high premium because of the expense your insurance company will have to pay to replace it if it's totaled. So, if you’re looking for a cheaper rate for your teen driver, you should stick to a simple car like a sedan.
Consider, as well, the type of insurance coverage your teen driver's vehicle has. If your teen has full coverage, including comprehensive and collision coverage as well as uninsured motorist, you can expect to pay more.
Now that we’ve talked about why it is so expensive to insure a 16-year-old, let’s discuss a few ways to save.
If your driver has the grades, you might want to consider the good student discount. Your insurance company will require proof, such as a transcript. Usually, your insurer will require above a 3.0 GPA, or "B" average. But this can vary, so you'll want to speak with your insurer specifically for details.
Another option is what’s called a defensive driver discount. Young teenage drivers who have taken a professional driving course are less likely to receive a citation or get into an accident. Like the good student discount, your insurance company will usually require proof of this such as a receipt. Not every insurance company offers this discount, so ask your insurance company beforehand!
Because teens are already more likely to be in a car accident or receive a citation, it is imperative for low rates to keep them out of any legal trouble. Texting while driving, speeding, or being in an at-fault accident can seriously affect your premium. In a state-by-state breakdown, DUIs, racing, and hit-and-runs — on average the most expensive citations — raise insurance premiums by at least 70%. Moreover, most insurance companies offer a good driver discount, dependent on keeping a clean driving record.
|Accident/violation||Average annual premium||Increase from no violation|
|Speeding 21 - 25 MPH Over Limit||$2,008||$460|
|At-Fault Accident - Greater Than $2,000||$2,315||$767|
|Driving with a Suspended License||$2,591||$1,043|
|Leaving Scene of an Accident — Hit-and-Run||$2,760||$1,212|
Consider, however, that these numbers are a holistic average of the entire US population. If your teen receives a citation or violation, you can expect the rates to be significantly higher. Another thing to keep in mind is how long your rates will be affected after an accident or citation. Regardless of your age, most car insurance companies will charge you for three to five years after an accident. Meaning, if your teen gets ticketed for racing, that $1,131 premium increase will actually accumulate to a $3,393 increase.
It's important to understand how a claim can impact your rates — especially if you're already paying significantly more for auto insurance because of a teen driver. As we established above, an at-fault accident will increase your rates at an average of $767. Considering, as we explained, most insurance companies will charge you for three years, you should think carefully about if it makes financial sense to file a claim. Here's how you can tell:
Aside from picking the right company, avoiding any claims as a teenager will be the best way to keep your insurance premium down. To see more detailed info about when to file a claim, learn more here.
Although it's tempting to get your child their own policy, our data shows that it will result in higher rates — about $1,700 more per six-month policy period. By putting a teen driver on their parents' policy, the savings can add up to more than 50%. Moreover, most insurance companies require anyone living in your residence — as a 16-year-old would likely be — above legal driving age be either added to your policy or be designated as an excluded driver. If your teen were to use your vehicle for any reason, they risk not having coverage because they have their own policy and are thus excluded from yours.
There are many things that go into your insurance quote. Any time you change your location, age, or vehicle, consult other insurance companies to make sure you're getting the best possible rate. Because auto insurance rates for teens vary so much, a birthday is a great reminder to compare car insurance quotes to find a high-quality policy at a reasonable cost.
At the end of the day, you should anticipate the premium for a 16-year-old driver to be higher than any other age group. Insurance companies see their proclivity for accidents and lack of driving experience as major red flags and thus, charge quite high for them.
Considering companies like Nationwide and State Farm, as well as owning a moderately priced car, being a good student, and attending a defensive driving course are some good places to start in order cut costs on car insurance. However, the absolute best way to save on car insurance is to look for rates every six months.