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Driver error plays at least a partial role in more than 90 percent of motor vehicle collisions. Although motorists of all ages can end up making a poor judgment call when behind the wheel, individuals with little experience on the road are far more likely to commit a fatal mistake than those who have been driving for decades.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are the leading cause of death for American teenagers. In 2015 alone, 2,333 people between the ages of 16 and 19 died from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle collision.
Unfortunately, limited driving experience is not the only reason teenagers are so often involved in crashes. According to CBS News, teens are more than 1.5 times more likely than adults to get into a fatal accident because of their notoriously dangerous driving habits. Such habits include speeding, texting, and failing to scan the surrounding area before making a traffic maneuver.
Although individual teen drivers may be just as conscientious as adult motorists, the demographic as a whole is considered high-risk based on inexperience and crash statistics. For this reason, adding a teenager to your auto insurance policy can be incredibly costly.
The average household premium increases by about 80 percent upon adding a teen to the policy. Additionally, in at least five states, the average rate more than doubles.
Fortunately, this increase is only temporary. As the teenager gains more experience, the premium will decrease gradually—as long as he or she maintains a clean driving record. In the meantime, though, it can be hard for teens or their families to come up with the money to cover the additional cost of coverage.
Read on to learn how teens can save on car insurance until they are no longer considered such high-risk motorists:
1. Do Well in School
Many of the major auto insurance providers offer a “Good Student” discount. The precise savings will vary, but teen motorists can typically save up to 20 percent on coverage just by doing well in school. In general, a teen must meet at least one of the following criteria to qualify:
- Maintain a B average or higher;
- Make the honor roll or dean’s list; or
- Score in the 80th percentile on a standardized test.
2. Take a Defensive Driving Course
If teens complete a defensive driving course in addition to the standard driver’s education requirements for their state, they may be able to get a discounted rate on auto insurance. Before enrolling in a particular course, confirm with your provider that its successful completion will qualify you for the discount.
3. Take Advantage of Technology
Some insurance providers offer discounts to policyholders who are willing to track their driving habits using a special monitoring device. You will likely get a discount simply for installing the device, and you can save even more—up to 30 percent in some cases—if you follow the rules of the road while using it.
4. Purchase a Practical Vehicle
Slightly older vehicles with a high safety rating are far more affordable to insure than new luxury cars or significantly older vehicles that do not have any of the latest safety features. Consider the cost of coverage before purchasing a car because the make and model you choose will have a substantial impact on your premium.
5. Inform the Insurance Provider of Your Academic Calendar
Teens who go away for school every fall without taking a vehicle pose less of a risk than those who live at home and drive 365 days out of the year. For this reason, insurance providers are willing to offer discounted rates when the teen driver is away at school or vocational training.
Finding affordable car insurance for teen drivers may be challenging, but it’s not impossible. With a little legwork and some shopping around, most families will find adequate coverage that they can manage on even the tightest budget.