Car Insurance for Teens is Expensive. Here’s How to Save.

So the teenager in your household is driving. Congrats! And condolences — perhaps this exciting new development has made you aware of the fact that insurance for teen drivers can be pretty pricey. Adding a single teenager to your policy may cause your annual premium to rise by an average of 78%. It turns out there’s a good reason for this sticker shock — and plenty of good ways to work around that issue to save money on your bill.

Why is insurance for teen drivers so expensive?

When it comes to insurance costs, it’s all about risk, and teen drivers are considered some of the riskiest behind the wheel. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States and In 2017, 2,364 teens in the U.S. between the ages of 16-19 were killed, and about 300,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes. 

The CDC considers a few subgroups particularly at high risk when it comes to car crashes: male drivers, teens driving with teen passengers, and newly licensed teens. A combination of factors, including inexperience, speeding, lack of seat belt use, and alcohol use may make teens more dangerous behind the wheel, and that danger is heightened at night and on the weekends.

Even if your teen has a squeaky clean driving record, a perfect grade on their driver’s test, and no inclination toward any bad behavior, you’ll likely be paying steep rates for their coverage. The rates typically tend to decline around age 25, but for high school and college kids, prices will probably remain high. 

How can you save money on teen driver coverage?

There are some strategies to lessen the pain here. Ask your insurer if they offer discounts for a high GPA or consider enrolling your teen in a safe driving course. If your teen driver is away at college without a vehicle, they may be eligible for a discount. Remember, too, that your teen driver’s car matters; a brand new or luxury vehicle is decidedly not the way to save.

One super simple way to save money on your teen’s insurance coverage is by making the switch to pay-per-mile insurance. Most teens aren’t making major commutes everyday or in need of a vehicle 24/7. If your teen’s driving mostly consists of short trips to school and back, pay-per-mile may be a good fit — and could lead to significant savings.

A novice driver is never going to be cheap to insure, but there are ways to manage the cost without skimping on quality. Is pay-per-mile right for your teen?

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Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist, UC Berkeley alumna, and Metromile customer.