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Ross Martin

Manager, Content Quality

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. As a licensed insurance agent, he specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers…

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Mark Friedlander

Director, Corporate Communications, Insurance Information Institute

Mark Friedlander has over 30 years of experience in the insurance industry. He is the Director, Corporate Communications, at the Insurance Informatio…

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

how to Get Cheap Car Insurance as a New Driver

How to find the best cheap car insurance for new drivers

While car insurance for new drivers is typically expensive, our research shows that GEICO, Nationwide and USAA offer great rates for new drivers. Just how much is insurance for a new driver? It depends on a number of insurance rating factors, but without insurance history or much driving experience, new drivers are often seen as risky in the eyes of top car insurance companies.
The riskier you appear on paper, the more you will pay for auto insurance. However, there are some ways that new drivers can get cheap car insurance quotes.

Key takeaways

  • New teen drivers on their parents' policy pay nearly $2,664 per year for coverage, nearly twice the national average
  • Nationwide provides the cheapest rates on average for newer drivers (at $290 per month)
  • Insurance companies consider drivers "new" until three years of US driving experience
  • Around 40% of new drivers shopping at The Zebra get "basic" coverage, a full coverage policy with liability limits of 50/100/50

What is the cheapest car insurance for new drivers

Our research indicates Nationwide, USAA and GEICO provide the cheapest insurance rates for new and young drivers. See below for a few examples of insurance features and discounts these companies offer new drivers.

1. Nationwide 

While $1,142 is not exactly a cheap premium, it's still among the cheapest available for a 16-year-old male. Similarly, the company is on the lower end for drivers with no insurance history, coming in at $661 for a six-month policy. Nationwide also provides some specific policy features designed to help young or new drivers.

What makes it good for new drivers?

  • A good student discount for young drivers who maintain at least a B average. 
  • Accident forgiveness prevents a driver's insurance rate from going up after their first at-fault accident.
  • Roadside assistance in case a driver finds themselves stranded or otherwise experiencing car troubles. 
  • The Nationwide SmartRide usage-based insurance program measures a driver's safety habits in order to provide a more accurate (and oftentimes cheaper) rate.



GEICO has long been one of the more affordable major car insurance companies, and that holds true for newer and younger drivers as well. A policy costs $257 per month for a 16-year-old male, dramatically cheaper than most competitors' rates for a 16-year-old. The average car insurance rate for a new driver at age 30 comes in at a more reasonable $105 — still much lower than many other insurers. GEICO also provides some specific features designed to help younger or newer drivers.

What makes it good for new drivers?

  • Discounts for good grades or membership in certain student organizations. 
  • Company-designed driver education and safety programs. 
  • Discounts for drivers who complete driver training programs.



USAA is known as one of the cheapest major insurance companies for drivers of any age or background. For a male 16-year-old driver, USAA premiums average $1,105 for a six-month policy, while those for a driver with no previous insurance history come in at an average of $664. USAA offers cheaper rates in general due to its stringent eligibility guidelines, as drivers must be active military, veterans, or in a military family in order to be eligible. For those who are eligible, USAA has many features that newer drivers may want to consider.

What makes it good for new drivers?

  • The USAA SafePilot program is USAA's entry into telematics, offering drivers the chance to save money by practicing safe driving habits. 
  • A discount for drivers under 21 who complete a driver training program.
  • A good student discount 

Read on to see other cheap insurance companies for new drivers, or enter your ZIP code below to start shopping for quotes from top companies.

New and seasoned drivers alike can compare car quotes and find an affordable policy

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Who is considered a new driver?

In general, car insurance companies will consider "new drivers" to be those without prior driving experience. In addition to teens just getting their license for the first time, any adults with no previous driving history as often counted as new drivers regardless of age.

Newly-immigrated individuals are also considered to be new drivers. Since these populations have no insurance history in this country or are thought to have never driven before, insurance providers consider them a higher risk. As such, rates will reflect this. Still, new drivers will be granted insurance and can take advantage of discounts, coverage options, and comparison sites like The Zebra to help find the best possible rate.

How long are you considered a new driver?

Most insurance companies consider a driver as "new" until they have three years of driving experience in the United States. This can vary from one company to another, but the longer you are able to establish a safe driving history, the lower you can expect your rates to be. 

Cheap car insurance companies for first-time drivers

In auto insurance terms, a "new driver" is someone with no driving history or insurance record. This can include newly licensed teenagers, young adults or people who obtained their driver's license later in life, or drivers new to the U.S. Each of these first-time drivers faces a similar challenge when it comes to finding cheap car insurance.

To generate estimated auto insurance prices for new drivers, The Zebra's research team used two driver profiles (methodology). One driver is a teenager on their parents' policy and another is a 30-year-old driver, previously uninsured. See below typical car insurance rates for a first-time driver with zero driving history. Keep in mind that most 16-year-olds are likely to stay on their parents' policy.

Car Insurance Company Average 12-Month Premium
Allstate $3,840
Farmers $3,480
GEICO $3,090
Liberty Mutual $3,038
Nationwide $2,284
Progressive $3,294
State Farm $2,904
USAA $2,210

In short, if you're looking for the cheapest car insurance for a new teen driver, begin your search with USAA, Nationwide and State Farm. It is very expensive to insure a 16-year-old driver on a separate policy: plus, it's illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase a policy on their own. Premium costs decrease significantly after young drivers turn 20, they still pay nearly 100% more than do the average driver in the U.S. Young drivers' lack of driving experience and tendency to make poor decisions behind the wheel — like speedingtexting while driving and a higher accident rate — means car insurance companies charge these drivers higher premiums to protect themselves against the probability of claims.

The second category of new drivers — older drivers who obtained their driver's licenses much later in life — shows a similar pattern.

Car Insurance Provider Average 12-Month Premium
Allstate $2,262
Farmers $1,846
GEICO $1,266
Liberty Mutual $2,236
Nationwide $1,322
Progressive $1,376
State Farm $1,292
USAA $1,328

How new drivers can save money on car insurance

Now that we have outlined the top insurance providers and the cost of insuring a new driver, let's explore some other ways to save.

The best way for a young driver to get cheaper car insurance is to stay on their parents' plan. This is likely a must for drivers under the age of 18 anyway, as minors are not allowed to purchase a plan on their own.

Most of the time, the young driver's parents' insurance background, credit score and driving history may lead to lower rates than the new driver would find on their own. By staying on a parent's auto insurance policy as long as possible, a young driver can save thousands of dollars per year. College students can usually stay on their parents' policy as well, provided they don't drive their own car while living away from home.

One of the best ways to get affordable coverage is to compare rates from a number of companies. This is because every insurer underwrites policies based on slightly different rating factors, sometimes leading to large differences in premiums. Seek out auto insurance quotes from different companies to see which is offering the best rate.

Remember that the coverage level you choose has an impact on your rates too. Roughly 38% of The Zebra's customers go for "basic" coverage, with is a full coverage policy with elevated liability limits, typically 50/100/50.

The value and other characteristics of a driver's vehicle contribute to insurance rates. For instance, picking a luxury vehicle — like a Mercedes-Benz — comes with an additional cost: higher insurance premiums. This is especially true for new drivers. A first-time driver with a brand new car or pickup truck is a major red flag for an insurance company. Similarly, a vehicle with a number of safety features can also lead to savings. However, if these safety features include high-tech sensors or other specialized equipment, this can actually lead to a higher insurance cost. In general, new drivers looking to save money should start by driving an older vehicle.

Depending on a driver's location, liability coverage may be the only insurance they're legally required to carry. However, some lenders may require physical damage insurance like collision coverage or comprehensive coverage, which can increase premiums dramatically. Deductibles for these coverages work inversely with payments: the lower your deductible, the more expensive the insurance premiums. Those looking for cheaper auto insurance rates should consider increasing deductible amounts to save money on car insurance coverage.

Discounts are readily available in the auto insurance world. Many are subject to state and insurer restrictions. Below we have listed some common discounts. Keep in mind that utilizing car insurance discounts is not going to cut premiums in half. However, they can certainly chip away at car insurance costs for first-time drivers.

Zebra Tip: Newer drivers should seek out a cheaper vehicle

While a new car might feel more glamorous, getting a cheaper car can save you loads on your insurance costs. If you're not sure how much car you can afford, check out The Zebra's free calculator to get an idea.

Common car insurance discounts for new drivers

Multi-policy discount

Combining multiple policies with one insurance provider, like home-and-auto or renters-and-auto, can qualify you for a multi-policy discount, often applied to both policies. Bundling homeowners and auto policies save an average $66 more in savings compared to bundling homeowners and renters. This is mainly because homeowners insurance brings in higher revenue for insurance companies than renters insurance.


Multi-car discount

Similar to a multi-policy discount, a multi-car discount refers to insuring more than one car with a single company. The discount is automatically added either at policy inception — if two cars were insured from the start — or upon the addition of a second vehicle to the policy.


Defensive driving discount

This discount entails taking a defensive driving course and presenting your insurance company with proof in the form of a receipt or transcript. The logic behind this discount is clear: defensive driving classes make you a safer driver, which makes you less risky, i.e., cheaper, to insure.

We've partnered with iDriveSafely as an affordable option for online defensive driving courses. Available in nearly every state, taking a course can help you maintain a good driving record and save money on car insurance in the long run. Learn more about iDriveSafely's defensive driving classes.


Equipment discount

While usually smaller than a multi-policy or defensive driver bonus, your insurer may offer a discount if your car comes with an anti-theft device — or if you utilize a service like Lojack. Anti-theft devices are commonly built into modern vehicles. Just be sure any security devices are taken into account when your quote is generated.

Good driver discount

This discount is available if you have a clean driving record — meaning no at-fault accidents or citations. Safe drivers can expect this valuable discount to be added to your policy when your Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) is pulled at the inception of your policy. If you're convinced that you practice safe driving habits and are not receiving a discount, contact your insurance company and inquire about a good driver discount.


Profession/occupation discount

This discount goes by several names, but the idea is simple. Some insurance companies will give you a discount based on your occupation. Statistically, occupations such as teachers, physicians, or police officers are less likely to file a claim. An insurer will typically require proof of profession — a photocopy of your degree is a common request.


Good student discount

If you're younger than 25 and have good grades — typically a B average (3.0 GPA) or better — speak with your insurance company about a good student discount. Normally, they’ll ask for a transcript every six to 12 months as proof of your continued good standing.

Find an affordable insurance policy or bundle online within minutes.

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When to add a new driver

New drivers should be added to your policy if they have regular access to your vehicle, have their drivers license, and share the same residence. This means that a domestic partner, new roommate, or new teen driver should be added to your policy to ensure that you are fully covered. 

Teens can often be added to your insurance before they even get their license. State laws and insurer guidelines may vary, but some insurance companies may even allow teens with a learner's permit to be included on the policy at no extra charge during this time. Regardless, don't wait until your teen is fully licensed and driving before adding them to your insurance coverage.

If you are uncertain, you can always speak with an agent before your teen is licensed to find out more about when to add a new teen driver to your policy.

What is permissive use?

Permissive use is a feature of most car insurance policies that allows others to borrow your vehicle so long as it is not on a regular basis. For instance, a friend borrowing your truck for an afternoon to move would not need to be added to your policy (as long as they don't meet the aforementioned criteria). Don't assume that your policy includes permissive use. Always check beforehand to ensure you are covered.


Find answers to some of the most common questions for new drivers below.

While it depends on the type of coverage you're looking for, Nationwide offers some of the most affordable premiums for both new and younger drivers.

If possible, new drivers are going to find better rates by being added to another person's policy. This is especially true of teens or young adults, who can face dramatically higher rates when getting a policy on their own.

Put simply, insurers don't know how you'll act behind the wheel. With no previous driving record to lean on, most will automatically assume that you present a higher risk. Young drivers face the double-whammy of inexperience behind the wheel and a perception of recklessness that causes most companies to increase rates substantially.

How to pick the best car insurance company as a new driver

At the end of the day, all the discounts in the world won’t matter if you choose the wrong company. Some auto insurance companies will see your age and driving background as too great a liability and apply exorbitant premiums. Shopping around every six months can help ensure you’re getting the best rate for your driving profile. Enter your ZIP below to get car insurance quotes from a number of top insurance companies to get started.

Get personalized insurance rates in less than 5 minutes.

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About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.