Sweet 16: good for parties, bad for car insurance rates. How much should you expect to pay?
The average 16-year-old driver in 2020 paid an annual premium of $5,744 (or $479 per month) for insurance compared to the national average of $1,483.
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.
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 with which insurance company you should choose.
|Insurance Company||Average Premium: 6-Month Policy||Monthly Rate|
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 above data as a foundational jumping-off point. To see more detailed information and rate analysis for 16-year-old drivers, see our guide below.
Having an appropriate breadth of coverage as a less experienced teen driver is critical in ensuring you're adequately protected in the case of an at-fault accident. Carrying a low level of coverage — like the state-mandated level of liability — can put you at risk financially, and won't cover damages to your own vehicle.
However, opting for full coverage as a 16-year-old driver comes at a great cost, especially for those on their own policy rather than their parents'. See the chart below to compare how rates can go up drastically if you upgrade from state minimum to full coverage — it's an extra $371 per month.
|Coverage||Average 6-Month Premium||Monthly Premium|
|State Minimum Liability Only||$1,173||$196|
|Full Coverage (50/100/50)||$3,401||$567|
|Full Coverage (100/300/100)||$3,564||$594|
Because of how expensive it is for a 16-year-old driver to find cheap full coverage auto insurance, we analyzed rates from some top car insurance companies. The following insurers offer lower rates than the national average for a 16-year-old driver with full coverage at 50/100/50 with a $500 deductible ($3,401 for a six-month policy). Keep in mind some of these insurers don't offer coverage in all states.
Age is an important 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.
Below are the average rates per six-month policy for 16-, 17-, and 18-year-olds added to a family plan in which the parents are both 50-year-olds, insuring a 2012 Honda Accord and a 2012 Ford Escape. To see more rate information for teens added to a family plan, learn more below to see a state-by-state breakdown.
|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 $300 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 in deciding 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 near other drivers, increasing the chances 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 — like many high-performance sports cars and luxury vehicles — 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. To save even more, consider a used car over a new one.
Consider, as well, the type of insurance coverage your teen driver's vehicle will need. If your teen needs full coverage, including comprehensive and collision coverage as well as uninsured motorist, you can expect to pay more — as demonstrated above.
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 young 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 60%. Moreover, most insurance companies offer a good driver discount, dependent on keeping a clean driving record.
|Accident/Violation||Average 6-Month Premium||6-Month Increase From No Violation|
|Speeding 21 - 25 MPH Over Limit||$1,003||+$261|
|At-Fault Accident - Greater Than $2,000||$1,077||+$329|
|Driving with a Suspended License||$1,196||+$455|
|Leaving Scene of an Accident — Hit-and-Run||$1,283||+$542|
Consider, however, that these numbers are a holistic average of the entire U.S. 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. So if your teen driver gets a ticket for racing, that $997 annual premium increase will add up to $2,991 in additional premium over three years.
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 $670 yearly. 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 — over $1,600 more per year. However, by putting a teen driver on their parents' policy, the savings can add up to more than 50% compared to a teen on their own policy. 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 a policy of their own and are excluded from your coverage.
|State||Annual Premium on Family Plan||Annual Premium Without Family Plan|
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 to cut costs on car insurance. However, the absolute best way to save on car insurance is to look for rates every six months.