Car insurance for a 17-year-old
Cheap car insurance for a 17-year-old
Each state has minimum car insurance requirements that you must have to drive legally. This level of coverage is typically the cheapest, but it also provides limited protection. In most states, buying just the required coverage 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 a 17-year-old girl
Average minimum rate
District of Columbia
Cheap car insurance for a 17-year-old boy
Average minimum rate
District of Columbia
*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.)
Can a 17-year-old own and insure a car?
Yes. Most states allow a 17-year-old to own and insure a car, but there’s an important qualifier: a parent or legal guardian must co-sign for both the vehicle’s title and the insurance policy.
“Even if you’re under the age of 18, in most states, you can buy and insure a car,” says Penny Gusner, the consumer analyst for CarInsurance.com, who is available to answer your car insurance questions . “However, in general, minors cannot enter into a contract, so they cannot sign for auto insurance by themselves. Depending on state laws, a teen may not be able to buy a car either, since that is a sales contract, without an adult signing on as well.”
Adding a teen to parents’ policy is usually more affordable
Parents frequently take the easier — and less costly — approach of putting a teen on their existing policy. It’s usually cheaper because the cost of a policy takes into account the experience and driving record of the policy holder. A 17-year-old won’t have a proven track record on the highway, which could mean higher rates when an insurer crunches the numbers. Beyond that, Gusner says a 17-year-old won’t get the same coverage cuts the parent may pull in, including multi-vehicle, multi-policy (where car and home policies are bundled) and loyalty discounts. But even with those discounts, adding a 17-year-old driver to a policy still means a big hike in rates.
Another benefit of sharing a policy is that the teen is covered if he borrows your car on occasion, and the parents are covered if they drive the teen s car.
Despite the high cost to insure a teen, comparing car insurance quotes will save you money. Each insurer uses its own method for calculating what you pay, so prices for the same policy can vary significantly.
When it makes sense for a teen to have a separate policy
Gusner says that teens who have been in accidents or who have moving violations may be better off on their own, as sharing a policy with their parents would raise rates on the family coverage. If you re 17 and have a poor driving record, consider buying an older car — they’re cheaper to insure — and buying a separate policy with only high liability protection. “And don’t forget to shop around,” Gusner says. “The teen’s policy premium could be lower from one insurer to another.” You can take a little financial solace in knowing that the high cost of insuring a young driver fades over time. Average car insurance rates by age show that premiums begin to significantly decrease when drivers turn 26.
Do you need insurance to drive with a learner’s permit?
A teen just learning how to drive does need insurance, but not under his or her own policy. Gusner says that the policy of the vehicle’s owner (which is usually the parent or guardian who accompanies the novice driver) should be adequate. But don’t hesitate to add the teen to the family policy once he is licensed; do it immediately to avoid problems. “Most insurers will wait until the teen is licensed to make you add him, but do check beforehand because some will make you add the child at that point (when he has a permit) and start paying for him as a driver,” she says.
Do you need insurance to get a license?
Most states require that you have at least minimum liability insurance to drive. This also applies to a 17-year-old, who must show that the vehicle he’ll be driving is currently covered by its owner’s policy.
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 a 17-year-old. And Gusner says it may be a mistake to think state-mandated 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 are required. If you own your car outright, you can opt out if you want, but that means you re not covered for theft, damage to your car from an accident or from hail, fire, floods and vandalism.
The cost for comprehensive and collision insurance, on average, per year is $436, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The average yearly rate for comprehensive is $139, and collision costs $297.
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.
Car insurance discounts for 17-year-olds
More expensive policies come with teenager drivers — but there are ways to reduce the bill. Car insurance discounts for teens vary from state to state, but here are some of the more common ones:
- Driver’s Ed: 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.
- Good student: A discount up to 15 percent may be available for drivers who maintain a 3.0 or “B” average in the classroom.
- 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 numbers of passengers.
What are the best cars for a 17-year-old?
Safety, of course, is the top priority. Besides protecting your teen, your insurance company may show its appreciation for buying a safer car by trimming your rate. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) offers some basics when looking for a vehicle:
- Big horsepower is not a good idea. “Vehicles with more powerful engines can tempt (young drivers) to test the limits,” says the IIHS.
- Try to 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.
- Always consider cars with top safety reviews from the IIHS and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
CarInsurance.com is another valuable resource. It provides guidance, including a rundown of the top cars for teens under $15,000 with high safety ratings.
Hazardous highways for 17-year-olds
When a 17-year-old gets behind the wheel, accidents often happen. Here are a few facts underscoring the importance of safety and preparation:
- 17-year-olds have the second highest crash rate of drivers of any age; only 16-year-olds have a higher rate, according to a study by the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
- Various reports show that the summer is the worst time for a 17-year-old driver, with more fatalities in June and July than any other month
- The risk of a 17-year-old driver dying in a crash increases with each additional teenage passenger in the vehicle. The risk jumps 44 percent with one passenger, doubles with two and quadruples with three or more, according to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.