Cheap Insurance for Teens and Young Drivers

If you’ve got a teen or inexperienced young driver in the family, the cost can be breathtaking. Whether they’re on your policy or they have their own, here’s how to find the cheapest insurance possible.

Why is Insurance So Expensive for Younger Drivers?

The short answer is: They’re not so good at it. Teens and young drivers into their twenties are inexperienced, and as a result, they get in more accidents than those of us who have a few years under our belts. But that’s not it. Some drivers just get their driver’s licenses in their 30s and early 40s, and while they may get into a few fender benders here and there, they’re not significantly more prone to accidents once they get a little bit of experience.

Teens and young drivers are dangerous for the better part of a decade. According to the CDC, almost 2,500 teens were killed in car accidents in 2017, and over 300,000 young drivers were injured in car crashes. Six teens died every single day in car crashes across the United States. Getting a license is the most dangerous thing they do.

Why, though? Well, if you’ve ever been a teen -- and most of us have -- you know that your sense of invincibility is a lot more highly attuned than it is when you’re say, 52, and you worry about getting injured sneezing.

In particular, teens and young drivers who are male are in grave peril. They’re twice as likely to be killed in car accidents than young women. Why? Because they’re stupid.

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Who Has The Cheapest Insurance for Teen Drivers?

As in many other circumstances, USAA offers the cheapest insurance for teens, but it’s important to remember that the company focuses on current and former members of the military and their families. Beyond them, the best choices for families with teens are Esurance, Nationwide, and Shelter.

We sampled information from a number of sources to determine a range of prices for teen drivers, both male and female. We then took it a level deeper by examining the different coverage levels that may be available for teen drivers, whether it be full- or minimum-coverage.

It’s also important to note that we focused only on the least expensive insurance options, a metric which in no way indicates the quality of coverage, customer service, or availability.

Insurance rates can vary wildly from state to state as well, and even more so if there has been an accident.

DISCLAIMER: There are many other factors that can impact the price you’ll pay for teen driver insurance.

Who Has The Best Cheap Teen Driver Insurance?

  • Cheapest Large Insurance Carrier: Esurance - The Allstate subsidiary appears to have the best rates for teen drivers, both male and female. The national average is $766 for female drivers and $786 for male drivers for six-month policies. The only company that offers a better rate is USAA, which isn’t as widely available to people outside of the military, but even then the rates are higher for males than those offered by Esurance.
  • Best Overall: Esurance - The company’s rates for females is slightly more than USAA, but the rates for male drivers are significantly lower.
  • Best for Military Families: USAA. There’s no debate that USAA insurance rates are far lower than most major carriers, and this applies to teens as well as their parents.

How Much Does Teen Driver Insurance Cost?

We researched a wide variety of policies and insurance companies from around the country, but some don’t openly advertise their rates for teen drivers without an in-depth quote or an existing policy held by a parent. The rates you see below have been averaged out between male and female drivers for six-month policy.

Rates we found

Who Are The Nation's Best Teen Driver Insurers?

  • Nationwide - Nationwide sometimes gets swept aside when compared to giants like Progressive and GEICO, but the company offers some of the best accident forgiveness and pricing plans for teen drivers. Policies include 24/7 roadside assistance, vanishing deductible options, and total loss deductible waivers. The accident forgiveness program is one of the only in the country available for drivers under the age of 18, and save a significant amount of cash for parents if there has been a slip-up behind the wheel.

  • Allstate - As an enormous insurance company, Allstate has some tricks up its sleeve that some smaller insurers might not. The company offers a long list of discount options for college students, has an excellent mobile app, and offers coverage in all 50 states. The downside is that it’s far from the cheapest option for teen drivers.

  • Erie Insurance - You can’t get it everywhere, but if you live in an area that Erie services, the company has great coverage options for teen drivers. They offer discounts geared toward drivers under 21, and include a variety of add-ons that don’t cost more but add a ton in peace of mind. Many Erie policies come with pet insurance for injuries during an auto accident, personal item coverage for lost, stolen or damaged property, glass coverage, roadside assistance, and locksmith services.

  • State Farm - The company with some of the best commercials in the insurance business also happens to offer some of the best coverage in the business as well. State Farm offers a variety of discounts and programs targeted at teen drivers and their families. One of the biggest negatives to going with them is that there’s significant pressure to work with a local agent, which may not be as attractive as an online-only experience for some people.

How Can You Get Teen Driver Insurance Discounts?

Like ordinary car insurance, there are a million discounts that you can apply to drop your insurance cost significantly. When we got quotes, we didn’t select any of these, but they were all questions on the quote engine that would impact the overall insurance rate:

  • Drivers Ed - Many states require it to get a learner’s permit, but even if they don’t, taking a driver’s ed course is one of the best ways for your teen to get a discount on their insurance rates. Take a look at our pick's for the Best Driver’s Ed Programs here.

  • Keep up in school - Just like insurers look at adults’ credit scores for an indication of how good they’ll be behind the wheel, they may offer discounts for good grades. If your teen earns a “B” average or higher, it’s an option worth looking into.

  • Newer, safer car - Some people think that teens should get whatever leftover vehicle is sitting in the driveway after the parents are finished with it, but that may not be the best option for a few reasons. Safety is one, and insurance companies realize this, offering discounts and lower rates for drivers of newer vehicles with better safety equipment on board. We put together a Car Buying Guide for Teens and New Drivers to help you.

  • Talk with your teen - Ok, a frank conversation with your teen driver may not yield an immediate savings on your insurance policy, but setting ground rules and establishing trust around driving can reduce irresponsible behavior and the risk of a crash. Take a look at our Teen Driving Toolkit here.

What Are The Insurance Requirements for a Teen Driver?

Auto insurance is required in all 50 states and though the penalties for not having it vary from place to place, your teen driver won’t be able to drive legally without it. One thing that may come as a surprise is that some states require that a teen be added to an auto policy as soon as they have a license, with or without a vehicle of their own. This is because teens, in many cases, “latch on” to whatever vehicle is available to them at the time, which could change depending on which parent doesn’t need their ride. It’s important to check your local insurance requirements before turning your teen loose on the roads.

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Which insurance company has the best rates for teenage drivers?

Esurance appears to have the cheapest insurance for teenage drivers.

How much does it cost for auto insurance for a teenager?

That depends on who you purchase from. It can range from an additional $775 per year to over $1,200 depending on the provider.

Why is teen driver insurance more expensive than standard car insurance?

Besides the fact that teen drivers have little to no experience behind the wheel, their brains and ability to process information is not as developed as it is in most adults. Decisions that make an adult take a split second to make might take a teen several times longer on average.

How can I get super cheap teen driver insurance?

You might be able to scrape by with a local insurance policy that undercuts Esurance or even USAA, but do you really want to cheap out on insurance for a kid, who might be operating the family’s most valuable asset alone? Do yourself a favor and shop for the best rates while making sure to find adequate coverage for your vehicle and teen’s abilities.

Can I buy a standalone policy for my teen driver?

It is possible, but not easy. It’s also far from cheap. Most insurance companies recommend adding a teen driver to an existing auto policy, rather than setting them up with a standalone policy of their own.

When will my teen’s insurance rates go down?

It depends, but in general, you can expect to see rates start to drop when your new driver turns 18. Progressive quotes an average drop of 10 percent when a driver turns 18 and another 16 percent when they turn 21.

What about when my teen goes to college?

How much change you see in your auto policy when your teen goes away to school, both from a coverage and a price standpoint, will depend on where they go to school and on their driving history up until that point. Some states also prohibit parents from including their kids in an auto policy that is held primarily out of state. In these cases, you or your teen will have to purchase one of those pricey standalone policies.

Editor's note and disclaimer: Car Talk is supported by our fans, readers and listeners. When you click on some of the links on our website, we may receive referral compensation. However, you should know that the recommendations we make are based on our independent editorial review and analyses.