How much is car insurance for an 18-year-old?
An 18-year-old driver will pay an average of $4,055 per year for car insurance. That’s if you have your own policy and buy liability car insurance limits of 100/300/100 as shown below. Your particular rate will depend on many factors; chief among them is where you live, your driving record and how much coverage you get. To give you an idea of what to expect to pay for coverage, we provide average annual rates by state in the charts below.
The rates for a separate teen policy are based on having the following coverage limits on a 2015 Honda Accord, along with any other state required coverages, and a deductible of $500:
- $100,000 for injury liability for one person
- $300,000 for all injuries in one accident
- $100,000 for property damage
Car insurance for an 18-year-old woman
|District of Columbia||$5,390|
Car insurance for an 18-year-old man
|District of Columbia||$6,821|
Cheap car insurance for an 18-year-old
The cheapest car insurance you can get is a policy that meets just your state’s minimum car insurance requirements. Typically, buying just the state mandated coverage to legally drive means your insurance will pay for others’ injuries and car damage, but not for your own injuries or car repairs. You’ll see in the charts below how much minimum coverage costs, on average, per year in each state, for a teen buying his or her own policy.
Cheap car insurance for an 18-year-old woman
|State||Minimum average rate|
|District of Columbia||$2,488|
Cheap car insurance for an 18-year-old man
|State||Minimum average rate|
|District of Columbia||$3,002|
*CarInsurance.com commissioned Quadrant Information Services to run auto insurance rates for a 2015 Honda Accord LX for 10 ZIP codes in each state using six large carriers -- Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, Nationwide, Progressive and State Farm. (In cases where one of the insurers doesn't return a rate, another major carrier in that state is substituted.)
Adding a teen to parents' policy is usually more affordable
Although 18-year-olds are considered adults in most states and can buy their own car insurance, it's usually more common for parents to put them on the family policy. It's often a smart move because the coverage tends to be cheaper. That's because of various factors, including the driving record and experience of the policy holder. Also, Penny Gusner, the consumer analyst for CarInsure.com, says an 18-year-old won't get the same rate breaks a parent may get, including multi-vehicle, multi-policy (where car and home policies are bundled) and loyalty discounts. But even with these benefits, adding an 18-year-old driver to a parent's policy will likely come with a premium hike.
Still, you can snag the most affordable rate by comparing prices. Car insurance companies each use their own method for calculating how much you pay. That means the price for the same policy for the same driver can vary significantly among insurance companies. If you don’t comparison shop, you won’t know how much you can save by getting the policy at the most affordable price.
When buying insurance for an 18-year-old, here are a few scenarios that may affect you:
The 18-year-old lives with parents and has a clean driving record
Gusner says that teens living at home with no major traffic violations or accidents should definitely be on the parent's policy. "It's typically less expensive to stay on the parent's policy for as long as possible," she says, adding that the 18-year-old can help lower a parent's premiums by maintaining a good driving record for every year on the policy.
The 18-year-old has a good record but doesn't live with parents
Gusner says it's usually a good idea to get teens a separate insurance policy if they have a car and are no longer at home. They should also have coverage if they don't own a car but drive another car -- say, a roommate's -- regularly. A good option, she says, is a non-owner car insurance policy, which will provide protection and also continual coverage, resulting in lower premiums over time. "Or, if the 18-year-old has a roommate and uses that person's vehicle regularly, he should be added to the owner's car insurance policy," Gusner adds.
The 18-year-old lives with parents but has a bad driving record
Much will depend on how bad the teen's driving record is, specifically how many moving violations and accidents there are and how close together they happened. Gusner advises parents and teens to shop around and compare how much it would be to keep the 18-year-old on the family policy versus a separate policy for the teen. "Normally, it's still cheaper for the 18-year-old to be on the parent's policy and take advantage of discounts the parents have that trickle down to the kid, such as multi-car, multi-policy and others," she says.
The 18-year-old has a bad record and doesn't live with parents
Gusner says parents should remove a teen with a poor driving record from the family policy if he or she no longer lives with them. The teen should, instead, get his or her own policy. "The parent's rates should go down if (the teen) is taken off," she says. "Usually to take the teen off, you must show that they have a new auto policy of their own and/or a driver's license with a different license on it."
What's the best insurance for teenage drivers?
Liability protection -- which pays for damages a teen may cause to people or property in an accident -- is the first step when you insure an 18-year-old. And Gusner says it may be a mistake to think state-minimum coverage is enough.
Medical bills and costs tied to property damage can start high and quickly go higher, depending on the injuries to those involved. You don't want to be liable for out-of-pocket payments so make sure your basic liability coverage protects your assets. Besides raising your liability amount, Gusner suggests purchasing an umbrella policy, which raises liability protection after those basic limits are reached. An umbrella with $1 million or more of protection may be reasonable.
If the vehicle is being financed, then comprehensive insurance and collision coverage is required. But you decide if you want these optional protections if the car is already paid for. If you opt for comprehensive and collision, consider higher deductibles to lower your rate. Of course, you'd then have to pay for minor repairs following an accident. Typically comprehensive and collision insurance isn’t a total budget buster. The average yearly rate for comprehensive is $139, and collision costs $297, for an annual total of $436, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Car insurance discounts for 18-year-olds
Although costlier insurance usually comes with teenagers, discounts can reduce the bill. Although they vary from state to state, here are some of the common car insurance discounts for teens:
- Good student: A discount up to 15 percent may be available for drivers who maintain a 3.0 or "B" average in the classroom. Gusner says this applies to students in either high school or college.
- Driver education: You may be able to get a 5 percent discount if your teenager completes a driver education course. Taking the class may be required, under state law, as a step toward getting a license.
- A driving contract between parents and teen: A discount up to 5 percent may be given to teens who sign a contract with their parents specifying driving rules, such as limiting hours on the road and the number of passengers.
What are the best cars for an 18-year-old?
"Sedans and small to mid-size SUVs tend to be cheaper" to insure, says Gusner. "Sports cars and expensive vehicles with lots of bells and whistles typically are more expensive as the insurer would need to pay out more if the car was damaged or totaled out."
Also, as you'd expect, safety is a major factor. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has some advice:
- Lower horsepower is recommended. "Vehicles with more powerful engines can tempt (young drivers) to test the limits," says the IIHS.
- Get Electronic Stability Control (ESC). The IIHS says this feature, which helps maintain control on curves and slippery roads, is about as good at reducing risks as safety belts.
- Consider cars with top safety reviews from the IIHS and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Another resource is CarInsurance.com, which provides guidance, including a rundown of the top teen-ready cars under $15,000 with high safety ratings.
18-year-olds at risk on highways
An 18-year-old is in the highest-risk age group for drivers, 16 to 19. Here are a few cautionary facts underscoring the need for safety and good motoring habits:
- National accident statistics show that an average of six teens in the age group die every day in car crashes, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Summer is the worst time for teens, including 18-year-olds, with more fatalities in June and July than any other month, according to various studies.
- The risk of a driver in that age group dying in an accident rises with each additional teenage passenger. It increases to more than 40 percent with one passenger, doubles with two and quadruples with three or more, according to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.