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Turning 18 is a significant milestone in a person's life, as they exit high school and the legal thresholds of being a minor become nonexistent. In terms of car insurance, the burden of high rates still remains present, but the monthly premium is not so staggering. The average 18-year-old pays $718 less than a 17-year-old but $3,163 more on a personal policy than the national average. So, despite all obstacles, what are some ways your child can save as an 18-year-old driver? Let's break it down by your car insurance company, your age, your gender, your location, and by vehicle.
For a personal auto insurance policy, premiums will be expensive for 18-year-old drivers. Nationally, 18-year-olds paid over $4,700 per year for car insurance — which comes out to almost $400 a month. It's integral to shop around as much as possible at this age, especially if you're not covered on a parent's policy, as rates will differ from insurer to insurer.
In our survey of top insurance companies in the US, USAA and GEICO have the cheapest insurance rates for 18-year-old drivers. Consider this data as a starting point and continue to research your specific profile across multiple companies. See more information on our methodology here.
|Insurance Company||Average 6-Month Premium||Monthly Premium|
The above table illustrates just how much variance there is from company to company — driving home the point that the best way to find cheap auto insurance is to shop around as much as possible for car insurance quotes. For the typical teenager, paying hundreds of dollars a month for a separate policy is simply not feasible. One way to alleviate the financial burden is to have your teen covered by your existing car insurance policy — which we'll discuss next.
Amongst drivers between the ages of 16 and 85, 16- to 19-year-olds pay the most for auto insurance, sometimes as much as three times the national average. At the end of the day, being 18 means your insurance company sees you as an adult, but not that much of an adult to discount your premium. But, take comfort in the fact that as time goes on, your age becomes less of an impact on your car insurance rating. The data referenced below is rating a young driver with a clean driving record on their 50-year-old parents' policy with two standard 2012 vehicles.
|Age||Average 6-Month Premium||Monthly Premium|
An 18-year-old can save more than $2,600 a year by joining their parents' policy as opposed to their own personal auto policy.
Your gender can affect your premium just like your age. When evaluating risk, insurance companies see young males as statistically more likely to take unsafe driving risks than young female drivers — and therefore, are higher-risk clients. Because of this, they are more expensive to insure. On average, 18-year-old males are $341 more expensive per six-month policy period to insure. 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 at all.
We gathered rates from some of the top insurers in the US to survey where this demographic can find the most affordable car insurance. As previously discussed, 18-year-old males tend to face higher rates than their female counterparts, so we recommend finding any savings where you can.
|Insurance Company||6-Month Premium||Monthly Premium|
USAA and GEICO again came out on top, offering much lower rates — under $300 a month — compared to other insurance companies for 18-year-old male drivers.
Young female drivers are priced quite high due to their age, but lower than their male counterparts. See the table below to see average costs by insurance company in our survey of rates for 18-year-old female drivers.
|Insurance Company||6-Month Premium||Monthly Premium|
We recommend starting your search with GEICO if you don't qualify for USAA. These insurance providers offer much more affordable rates for 18-year-old female drivers and can save you about $150 per month compared to the group average.
Your premium is at the mercy of state laws and regulations, meaning it will vary based on where you live. By federal law, most states require mandatory minimum insurance coverage for your bodily injury and property liability, but the monetary amount of this coverage will also vary. If you live in a state like Michigan, where the minimum amount of coverage needed is well above the national average, you're going to be paying much more for auto insurance than other states.
Moreover, the number of people in your state can also impact your auto insurance rate. States with a smaller population, such as Ohio, tend to have lower premiums than states with a greater population. Keeping with the idea of risk management, the more drivers your state has, the more likely you are to be in an accident and insurance companies have to cover that additional risk.
|State||Average 6-Month Premium|
Just as your vehicle affects your insurance, it also impacts your teen's. The insurance cost of a teenager driving a brand new Super Duty Ford F-150 or a sports car is going to be much more expensive than driving a pre-owned Mazda 3. This is because vehicles with high MSRP are capable of serious pickup power, as well as having the ability to go off-road. In simplest terms, because your insurance company sees the cost of having to replace or fix your teen's vehicle as a high expense, they will charge more if it takes more money to do so. A more moderate vehicle, like a sedan, or choosing a used vehicle over a brand new one, are better ways to go when choosing a vehicle for your teen.
Now that we’ve talked about why it's so expensive to insure 18-year-olds, let’s talk about ways to save on car insurance costs.
If your student excels in their studies — carrying a grade point average of 3.0 (or "B") or higher — insurance companies will return some savings to you for what they see as a responsible and, therefore, less risky client. Combined with a Defensive Driver Discount mentioned below, you can save quite a bit of premium.
Average savings for good student and good driver discount
Young 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.
If your young driver is going to be attending school more than 100 miles away from the residence listed on your policy, you can receive what is called a Student Away From Home Discount. You will have to inform your insurance company about this change and they may require proof your teen lives away from home. With this discount, your teen is seen as an infrequent driver and thus the probability of them getting into an accident declines. The amount varies per insurance company, so consult them for details.
While having a teen driver on your policy is expensive, it is even more expensive to have a teen driver with a bad driving record on your policy. For an adult, an at-fault accident can raise a car insurance premium an average of $767 per year! Most insurance companies will continue to charge you for this at-fault accident for three years. So that $767 will stretch to cost you over $2,300 in additional premium. Broken down below, you can see what this would look like on an average premium in the US.
|Year After Accident||Average Annual Premium|
|0 - No accident||$1,548|
|1 Year later||$2,315|
|2 Years later||$3,082|
|3 Years later||$3,849|
Because young drivers are already more likely to receive a citation or be at-fault in an accident, it's crucial that they keep out of trouble so you can maintain a low insurance rate. Reckless driving, texting while driving, and racing violations can seriously affect your premium. If your teen driver has been in an accident and you're thinking about filing a claim, follow our guide below:
Keep in mind, you will probably still have to report an accident to your insurance company, regardless of whether or not you file a claim. Moreover, there will be times when you'll have to file a claim. Here are the cases:
Although it is exceedingly expensive to insure a teen driver, it isn't impossible. By shopping around with as many insurance companies as possible, you are able to see all of your options and make the best and cheapest choice for you. Enter your ZIP code below to get insurance quotes and start shopping with local and national insurance companies at once!
The ugly truth of car insurance for 18-year-olds, or any teen for that matter, is that it's going to be a pricey purchase. The high probability of a filed claim and penchant for risky driving practices make insurance companies nervous about insuring these clients — and any time an insurance company is nervous, you can expect them to ease their nerves with high premiums. But as long as you shop around, choose a moderate car, ensure your child is a good student, and take defensive driving courses, you and your teen can save on car insurance. However, the absolute best way to save on car insurance is to look for rates every six months. The Zebra can help you shop multiple car insurance companies at once.