Young drivers are often warned to prepare for the cost of car insurance. But how much is car insurance for a 17-year-old? Why is it so expensive, and how can you get the best deal?
Buying car insurance for a 17-year-old isn’t cheap, but there are a few ways you can make it cheaper. Let’s look at some options.
The Price of Car Insurance for a 17-Year-Old
According to online insurance company Clover, the average car insurance policy for a 17-year-old driver costs $5,900 per year. That’s a massive amount of money, especially for someone who is still in high school and may not have a job.
Car insurance prices can vary significantly depending on many factors, such as where you live. In some areas, insurance will be cheaper, as little as $1,400 per year. In others, teens could pay as much as $10,500 per year to buy coverage.
Boys also tend to pay more than girls, with the average premium for a 17-year-old male reaching $6,300 compared to $5,500 for a 17-year-old female.
Average Insurance Prices by Age
The good news for 17-year-olds is that their insurance won’t remain expensive forever. As you gain more experience, your car insurance tends to become cheaper. In fact, 16-year-olds have to pay $7,200 per year on average for coverage, so just one year of experience has already cut your premium by $1,000.
That trend of big price decreases continues each year until you turn 20 or so. Prices continue to fall slightly until you turn about 60 years old, at which point they start to rise again.
According to data from car site Motor1, the average price of car insurance by age is:
What Is Car Insurance For a 17-Year-Old So Expensive?
Insurers use complex mathematical and predictive models to figure out what to charge for insurance policies. Their goal is to charge an amount that, on average, will leave them with some profit left over after paying out claims without charging so much that customers will look elsewhere.
That means that they adjust the price of an insurance policy based on perceived risk. A driver who is seen as more likely to get into an accident and file a claim will pay more than one who is viewed as a safe driver and unlikely to need the insurance company to cover costs after an accident or crash.
Age and Experience
We’ve already seen how age can impact insurance rates, but experience is another factor that plays a big role, and that’s closely tied to age. You can only start getting experience once you’re old enough to get a driver’s license, but waiting to get a license until you’re older won’t make insurance magically cheap at that age.
Insurers look at how long you’ve been driving to determine your premium. While a 25-year-old getting a license for the first time won’t pay as much as a 17-year-old who just got their license, they will pay far more than a 25-year-old who has been driving for years.
State Requirements and Selected Coverage
Every state has different laws regarding car insurance and the coverage that drivers are required to purchase.
🚗 For Example
Massachusetts requires a minimum of $20,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person ($40,000 per accident, $5,000 in property damage liability, $8,000 in personal injury protection, and $20,000 in uninsured motorist coverage per person ($40,000 per accident).
Florida, in contrast, has no requirement for bodily injury coverage, only mandating $10,000 in property damage liability and personal injury protection.
The level of coverage that you purchase will affect the price you pay, with more coverage being more costly. If you want to buy the state minimum level of insurance, you’ll pay more in states with heftier requirements.
Car Make and Model
The type of car that you drive can cause insurance to be pricier or cheaper.
Some cars, such as trucks and SUVs, with high safety ratings can help lower your insurance costs. Luxury sports cars are more prone to theft and are often driven unsafely. They can also be more expensive to repair, so if you’re driving a high-end vehicle, you’ll face a higher premium.
Insurers will look at your driving record and ticket history to try to gauge how well you drive and the odds that you’ll get into an accident. Having a clean record can have a massive impact on the price of insurance.
🚔 For Example
Getting a ticket for dangerous driving, such as excessive speeding, can bump the price of insurance. Get enough tickets, and you could see premiums double or triple for a few years.
If you’ve gotten into accidents, insurers see you as risky and will charge more to compensate. Even just filing insurance claims could make your insurer increase your rates when you renew your coverage.
In many states, insurers will look at your credit history and score as part of pricing your insurance policy.
In general, insurers view people with good credit to be safer bets than those with poor credit. The idea is that someone who handles credit carefully is also likely to be a safe and careful driver. Someone with poor credit may not drive as safely.
📚 Learn more: Discover practical and cost-free strategies to boost your credit score by checking out our guide on how to build credit for free.
In some cases, poor credit could raise your rates by as much as 50%.
If you live in California, Massachusetts, or Hawaii, insurers cannot use your credit to determine the cost of coverage. However, your credit can play a role in the other 47 states.
As a 17-year-old, you’re not likely to have a credit score, as you’re too young to apply for most forms of credit. Getting added to your parents’ card as an authorized user is a start, and building good credit will help you lower your insurance costs in the future.
📚 Learn more: Starting your financial journey strong is crucial; our post on how to build credit at 18 offers eight effective strategies to consider.
The state you live in determines the minimum level of insurance coverage you have to buy, but where you live within the state also plays a role. For example, if you live in a major city, you’ll probably pay more for insurance than someone who lives in the suburbs or a rural area simply because theft rates are higher, and you’re more likely to get into an accident with more people around.
While this isn’t typically applicable to 17-year-olds, it is a factor that insurers consider. In general, single people are seen as riskier drivers and pay more for insurance than married drivers.
Other Drivers on Plan
Having multiple drivers on the same insurance plan can be cheaper than insuring each individual separately. For a 17-year-old, the cheapest way to get insurance will often be to get included in your parent’s policy.
How to Save Money on Insurance
Given the high cost of insurance for young drivers, you should do your best to look for the best deal. Taking the time to shop around can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars per year.
Compare Multiple Insurers
The most obvious, and one of the most important, ways to find a good deal on auto insurance is to shop around. There are many auto insurance companies out there, so take the time to get quotes from multiple companies and compare them.
Consider the coverages that each insurer offers and how much each company is charging. However, make sure that the insurers you’re considering are reputable. Check their ratings from companies like AM Best, which rates insurers on their likelihood to default.
The last thing you want is to file a claim only to find that your insurer doesn’t have the cash to pay out.
Consider a Higher Deductible
The deductible for an insurance plan is the amount that you have to pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in and starts paying for damage to your car or other liabilities.
👉 For Example
If an accident does $5,000 in damage to your car and you have a $250 deductible, the insurance will pay $4,750 toward the damage, and you’ll pay $250. If your deductible is $1,000, you have to pay that amount, and the insurer will only pay $4,000.
Higher deductibles can be risky because it means more out of pocket when you have an accident, but it can reduce your premium.
Get Added to Your Parent’s Policy
Buying insurance for a 17-year-old on their own can be incredibly pricey. Adding a 17-year-old to a parent’s policy won’t necessarily be cheap, but it will likely be cheaper than getting insurance separately.
According to Car and Driver, buying insurance for a teen separately can be as much as twice as expensive as adding them to a parent’s policy.
Drive an Older Car
Driving an older, less valuable car can be a good way to reduce the cost of insurance. In the event of a major accident, the insurer will have to pay far less if the car is totaled than if you totaled a brand-new vehicle.
Cut Unneeded Coverage
Some auto insurance, like liability insurance, is absolutely essential, but there are other types of coverage that are good to have but not necessary in every situation.
👉 For Example
Collision insurance covers the cost of fixing or replacing a car damaged in an accident. If you’re driving an old beater, you might not need collision insurance because the payment would be negligible, and you’d rather save money on the premium.
Comprehensive coverage is similar but applies to non-accident damage, such as theft or weather damage.
Look Into Discount Options
Most car insurance companies offer a huge variety of discounts that can help you save money. Bundling is a common discount, letting you pay less if you get multiple types of insurance from the same company.
A discount that may be relevant for younger drivers is a good student discount. Some insurers will drop a student’s premiums by as much as $70 per month or $840 per year if they get good grades.
Typical requirements are to maintain a B average in high school or college. Keep in mind that your insurer will want proof, so be ready to send a copy of your report card or transcript.
Consider Usage-Based Car Insurance
A good way for both young drivers and adults to save money is to sign up for a usage-based car insurance (UBI) plan.
With UBI, your insurer collects data about your driving and determines the cost of coverage using that data. You’ll typically plug a device into your car’s diagnostic port, and that device will report your driving habits to the insurer.
The insurance company will collect data on when you drive, how far you drive, and things like how often you break too hard or accelerate too quickly. Depending on how you drive, you could save as much as 15% per year.
The average driver puts about 11,500 miles on their car each year, so if you log fewer miles than that, UBI can be a good way to save money. You’ll also benefit if you’re a careful driver and don’t break hard or accelerate quickly on a regular basis.
Some insurers even offer a pay-as-you-drive plan, charging you a small base amount plus a fee for each mile you drive.
Car insurance for a 17-year-old can be expensive, running upward of $5,000 per year. However, as you get older, insurance will get much cheaper, and with some effort, such as shopping around and looking for discounts, you can often find an insurer with a much more affordable premium.