If you thought the cost of your car insurance was astronomical, just wait until you start getting the bill for your teen drivers; you might be shocked. And don’t think that shopping around will get you a better price. Although some companies may be willing to offer better rates for everyone (or even some sort of discount for teens with good grades), you’re still going to pay a heck of a lot more for your teen drivers than you pay for yourself, and those jacked up rates aren’t likely to become manageable until they’re well into their twenties (even with a decent driving record). If you’re wondering just why it’s so expensive to insure your teen driver, here are a few reasons that providers feel justified in charging a lot more.
- Experience. Most of the time insurance rates are based on the experience level of the driver, so it should come as no surprise that teens pay more simply because they have no experience behind the wheel. They may not have any accidents or infractions on their records yet, but they also don’t have a clean history to rely on, so insuring them could just as easily end in a payout by the provider as not.
- Responsibility. In general, teens are not considered terribly responsible. Heady with their newfound freedom, they may take risks that more experienced and knowledgeable drivers wouldn’t. Most don’t have to pay their own way, and that includes the cost of purchasing a car and paying for associated costs like registration, insurance, and or course, accidents. So they really have no concept of the consequences for their failure to drive in a responsible manner.
- Occurrence of accidents. In a 2008 report to Congress, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that drivers under the age of 20 were more than twice as likely to be involved in fatal accidents as their counterparts over the age of 35 (not to mention a fourth of those killed were over the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration). That doesn’t even include accidents that didn’t involve fatalities. Stats like those have made teen drivers the least safe group on the road, and therefore more expensive to insure.
- Unsafe behavior. Teens exhibit notoriously unsafe behavior behind the wheel, which is why so many countries have issues horrifying PSAs to warn them away from one of their favorite activities: texting while driving. And when you factor in that they are extremely susceptible to peer pressure and the desire to impress their friends (often with daring antics such as speeding, listening to loud and distracting music, and even drinking and driving), it’s not hard to see why insurers might be a little wary of taking them on.
- High risk. Of course, the biggest factor in setting insurance rates is the level of risk, and teens are at the top of that scale. Their inexperience, irresponsibility, and penchant for accidents are enough to render them risky, but it’s their consistently unsafe behavior that usually pushes them over the edge. And even if they adopt a “sell my truck” mentality when it comes to covering the cost of an accident, that doesn’t mean they won’t pull the same stupid antics that got them into trouble in the first place. So if you’re not too keen to pay an arm and a leg for the teen drivers in your house, consider making them get jobs and pay for the privilege of driving. It won’t reduce the cost, but it could make them behave in a more responsible manner.