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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

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  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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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

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  • 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

The cheapest car insurance companies for new drivers

For new teen drivers just hitting the road, the cheapest car insurance companies are USAA ($320 per month) and State Farm ($394 per month). For new adult drivers, the cheapest insurers are also USAA ($124 per month) and State Farm ($131 per month). In comparison, the typical teen driver might see insurance bills around $420 each month, while adults without any prior insurance history generally face rates near $161 per month.

Dive into the tables below for average rates from other companies and read on to learn more about how to pick the best insurance company as a newbie behind the wheel. But remember, the "best deal" can be pretty subjective, heavily depending on your unique situation — what's cheapest on paper might not be the most cost-effective for you in reality.

Average premiums for teens with no insurance history by company
Company Avg. Annual Premium Avg. Monthly Premium
USAA $3,838 $320
State Farm $4,726 $394
GEICO $5,303 $442
Nationwide $5,652 $471
Allstate $6,834 $569
Farmers $7,206 $600
Progressive $7,842 $654
Average premiums for adults with no insurance history by company
Company Avg. Annual Premium Avg. Monthly Premium
USAA $1,482 $124
State Farm $1,569 $131
GEICO $1,676 $140
Nationwide $1,754 $146
Progressive $2,046 $171
Farmers $2,279 $190
Allstate $2,678 $223

To generate estimated auto insurance prices for new drivers, The Zebra's research team used two driver profiles (methodology details). One driver is a teenager and another is a 30-year-old driver, both with full coverage and previously uninsured. The variation in the cheapest insurer for teens versus adults is due to each company's unique risk assessment model, which can lead to different pricing structures for each age group.

How long are you considered a new driver?

Typically, insurers consider a driver "new" until they have three years of U.S. driving experience. Establishing a safe driving record over time will reduce rates.

new teen female Driver holding up a license

How to find the best cheap car insurance for new drivers

To find the best cheap car insurance for new drivers, The Zebra recommends you start by comparing quotes from multiple insurance companies. It's also wise to ask about discounts, consider a policy with higher deductibles or lower coverage limits, and opt for a less expensive vehicle to insure. 

While price is important, new drivers and their parents must consider all aspects of their insurance options. Start below with our insurance comparison checklist designed for new drivers. Already well-versed in insurance shopping? Jump straight to our summary of the top three insurers for new drivers.

Insurance comparison checklist for new drivers:

Does the auto insurance company offer:
✓ Affordable rates
✓ A positive reputation
✓ Strong financial stability
✓ Adequate coverage
✓ Accident forgiveness
✓ Roadside assistance programs
✓ Usage-based insurance plans
✓ Relevant discounts
✓ A good mobile app

Car insurance company checklist for new drivers

Does the auto insurance company offer:

✓ Affordable rates

Finding the best rate isn't just about chasing discounts; sometimes a company offers a lower overall price without them, much like how Amazon might have the lowest price despite other stores offering multiple discounts on the same item. This is why comparison shopping is so important!

✓ A positive reputation and strong financial stability

The Zebra's detailed insurer reviews will list data from reputable sources including A.M. Best, the NAIC, J.D. Power, The Zebra's Customer Satisfaction survey, and sites like Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot. You want an insurer that is responsive, pays out claims, and is easy to get ahold of.

✓ Adequate coverage

Some companies offer several coverage options, others may provide only one or two basic options. Still others, like Lemonade, let drivers select and pay only for the coverage they deem necessary, sometimes leading to lower rates because drivers aren't bundled into one-size-fits-all plans. Roughly 38% of The Zebra's customers go for "basic" coverage, which is a full coverage policy with elevated liability limits, typically 50/100/50.

✓ Accident forgiveness

This prevents a driver's insurance rate from going up after their first at-fault accident. Especially helpful considering the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports accident rates are significantly higher among younger, newer drivers. 

✓ Roadside assistance programs

This can provide new drivers with immediate support during unforeseen breakdowns or incidents, fostering confidence on the road. See our comparison of roadside assistance programs here.

✓ Usage-based insurance plans

Also known as telematics, usage-based insurance can help keep dangerous driving behaviors in check and reward safe driving habits.

✓ Relevant discounts

While mostly geared towards younger drivers, many new drivers can benefit from discounts such as those related to making good grades or being a good driver. We especially like driver safety program discounts as they not only lower rates but help new drivers feel more confident and drive safer. Read more about discounts available to new drivers here.

✓ A good mobile app

While not a necessity, a good insurance app can help you keep all your information in one place and even allow you to file claims, track their status, and access customer support directly from your mobile device. The Zebra's Customer Satisfaction Survey ranked USAA, State Farm, GEICO, and Allstate all ranked highly for online and mobile satisfaction. Read the details about each insurance app here.


What is the best insurance for new drivers?

The Zebra's experts consider State Farm, USAA, and Nationwide the best insurance companies for new drivers thanks to their cheap rates, wide availability, and relevant discounts and programs. Read about the unique features offered by each company that especially suit first-time drivers.

 

1. State Farm: Best overall

State Farm is our top recommendation for first-time drivers given it received top marks in The Zebra's Customer Satisfaction Survey and has some of the cheapest average prices for new teen ($394 per month) and adult ($131 per month) drivers. State Farm also offers several programs and discounts that will be especially relevant to teen and young adult drivers.

For example, real-life customer and licensed insurance agent Beth enjoys being rewarded for her safe driving through State Farm's Drive Safe and Save telematics program.

What makes State Farm good for new drivers?

  • Drive Safe & Save telematics program rewards safe driving behavior.
  • Those under 25 with no accidents or violations can receive up to 15% off after completing the Steer Clear driving course.
  • Good student discount for students under 25.
  • Driver Training discount for those under 21 who complete an approved driver education course.

 

2. USAA: Best for military families

USAA topped nearly every category in The Zebra's Customer Satisfaction Survey, leading in trust, claims satisfaction, customer satisfaction, ease of use, likelihood to recommend, and online experience. Real-life customer Dani had a collision, and USAA not only handled the details but also sent her flowers after realizing the accident was on her birthday.

USAA is also often the cheapest option for new drivers, regardless of age or background. Monthly premiums average only $282 for teens and $124 for new adult drivers. USAA would have been our top pick if not for eligibility being restricted to military personnel, veterans, and their kin.

What makes USAA good for new drivers?

  • The USAA SafePilot telematics program offers savings to safe drivers.
  • A driver training course discount for drivers under 21.
  • A good student discount (except in HI and NC).
  • 10% family discount for when children of members get their own policy.

 

3. Nationwide: Runner-up

Nationwide is another high-quality option for first-time drivers. They are relatively affordable at $471 per month for teens and $146 per month for adults with no insurance history and offer a wide range of coverage options, telematics programs, and discounts perfect for new drivers.

What makes Nationwide good for new drivers?

  • A good student discount for young drivers with a B average or higher. 
  • Accident forgiveness ensures no rate hikes after the first at-fault accident.
  • Roadside assistance for unexpected breakdowns.
  • The Nationwide SmartRide program assesses driving habits for potentially more accurate and cheaper rates.

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

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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. To get a sense of how new drivers can help their pocketbooks, we reached out to The Zebra's in-house agency to get some perspectives from professionals.

Agent insight from The Zebra:

"Obey the law, stay alert and avoid a lapse in coverage. Any tickets, accidents, or lapse can affect/raise the rate for years to come."

Analisa Pina — Licensed insurance advisor at The Zebra

Other ways to save on car insurance as a new driver

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, which is a full coverage policy with elevated liability limits, typically 50/100/50.

In general, new drivers looking to save money should start by driving an older vehicle. This is because picking a new or luxury vehicle — like a Mercedes-Benz — combines the risks of inexperience with the high repair and replacement costs of premium cars, leading to higher rates. Another thing to keep in mind is while safety features can often reduce rates, highly specialized equipment and high-tech sensors can actually increase rates.

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. This is because the insurer bears a larger financial responsibility when a claim is made.

Those looking for cheaper auto insurance rates should consider increasing deductible amounts to save money on car insurance coverage. Just be careful to not make your deductible higher than what you can afford should you have to file a claim.

Discounts are readily available in the auto insurance world. Many are subject to state and insurer restrictions. Below, we outline common discounts. While they won't halve your premiums, they can reduce 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

Car insurance discounts new drivers and their parents should look out for include multi-policy (bundling), multi-car, defensive driving, equipment, good driver, profession, and good student discounts. Read details about each below, but remember that many are subject to state and insurer restrictions.

Multi-policy discount
Multi-policy discount

Bundling policies under one insurer, such as home and auto, can earn you a discount. Homeowners will save an average of $66 more than bundling with renters, as homeowners insurance yields higher revenue for insurers than renters insurance.

multicar discount
Multi-car discount

multi-car discount refers to insuring multiple vehicles with the same company. If you start with two cars, it's added from the beginning; otherwise, it's applied to your policy when a second car joins the policy

defensive driving
Defensive driving discount

By showing proof of completion of a defensive driving course to your insurer, you can earn a discount. Such courses enhance safety, reducing insurance risks and costs. We've partnered with iDriveSafely as an affordable option. Available in most states, their courses can help you maintain a good driving record and save money on car insurance. Learn more about iDriveSafely's defensive driving classes.

equipment discount
Equipment discount

While usually smaller than a multi-policy or defensive driver bonus, some insurers offer a discount for cars with anti-theft devices or services like Lojack. Many modern vehicles come with these features. Be sure such devices are considered in your insurance quote.

good driver
Good driver discount

This is available to those with a clean driving record — meaning no at-fault accidents or citations. It is typically added when your Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) is pulled at the inception of your policy. 

older teacher driving
Profession/occupation discount

Some insurers offer discounts to professions with statistically fewer claims (e.g. teachersphysicianspolice officers). Insurers often require a photocopy of your degree for eligibility.

image of student
Good student discount

If you're under 25 with a B average (3.0 GPA) or higher, inquire about a good student discount with your insurance company. They usually ask for proof in the form of a transcript every 6-12 months.


When to add a new driver

Add new drivers to your policy if they regularly use your vehicle, have a license, and share your address. This can include a domestic partner, roommate, or newly licensed teen.

Tip: don't wait until your teen is fully licensed and driving before adding them to your insurance coverage. Some insurance companies may even allow teens with a learner's permit to be included on the policy at no extra charge while they only have a permit (although state laws and insurer guidelines may vary). 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 covers occasional drivers who aren't listed on the policy but have the policyholder's permission to drive the vehicle. For example, when a friend borrows your car once to move. However, coverage details can vary among insurers. Always inquire to clarify your insurance company's specific guidelines on what they consider "regular" vs "permissive" use. All regular drivers must be added to your policy.


Discover your perfect insurance match with The Zebra

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. To get started, enter your ZIP below to see car insurance quotes from a number of top insurance companies.

Get personalized insurance rates in less than 5 minutes.

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FAQs

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.


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 editorial 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.