When your children start driving, concern for their safety takes a back seat to nothing.
And with good reason: fatalities are highest among teen drivers, who obviously have relatively little time behind the wheel. Adding insult to the high risk of injury – and precisely because of that risk – is the potentially high cost of insuring young drivers.
“We’ve had people come in here paying $7,000, $8,000 a year for their auto insurance, not knowing any different, thinking that was just the rate that it cost,” said Doug Erwin, personal lines team leader for Advanced Insurance Solutions.
In cases such as that, he said, there’s always a youthful driver involved.
There’s an obvious cause and effect: young drivers pose a greater risk for accidents and injuries than older, more experienced drivers do. Therefore, insurance companies charge more to insure young drivers.
Some insurance companies are more accommodating than others, charging less than they should based on what the actuarial tables say.
“They’re basically looking at the lifetime value of having that client,” Erwin said, so they absorb some of the financial hit that otherwise would be paid by the customer.
Other insurance companies won’t budge: What it costs them to insure a 16-year-old driver is what they charge consumers.
Driver age is one factor in determining auto insurance costs, as are the level of coverage, the number of vehicles in a household, and the age of those vehicles.
For example, if the young driver can be categorized as an occasional driver, and the vehicle does not require full coverage, a typical policy might run $300 to $400 per year, Erwin said. (Full coverage is required on any vehicles to which there is a loan attached and typically recommended for cars that are younger than 10 years old.)
However, if the number of cars equals the number of drivers, a 16-year-old will be assigned as a principal driver on one of the cars – perhaps even the most expensive one regardless of whether he or she drives it.
This is when sticker shock can strike unsuspecting parents.
The good news is that there are ways to protect your family against sky-high insurance costs for young drivers. Erwin offered these four tips:
1. Have the youthful driver take a driver-training course if one is offered through school. Insurance companies typically offer discounts for this.
2. Ensure that new drivers maintain a B average or better in school; some insurance companies offer good-grade discounts.
3. Don’t buy your youthful driver a new car. The first big price break on insurance comes at age 19, so until that time let your child gain experience on a used car.
4. Shop around for insurance. If the only quote you get is from a carrier that is unforgiving of young drivers, your premium will be costly. An independent agent such as AIS can compare prices from multiple carriers, ensuring the best rates.
“We pick what’s the best fit for the client,” Erwin said. “We check it through all our carriers to find out who is going to be the best fit under that circumstance because there are so many variables. The exact makeup of the household is so relevant to what pricing is going to be. And different companies react differently to those situations.”