Cheapest Car Insurance for Teens (and Their Parents)

Cheapest Car Insurance for Teens (and Their Parents)

The cheapest way to get car insurance for your teen is to add them on your own policy. But to add them, some insurers charge thousands more per year than their competitors.

woman researching car insurance

Find Cheap Auto Insurance Quotes for Teens

Currently insured?
It's free, simple and secure.

Teens are both young and new drivers. As a result, they face with some of the most expensive car insurance rates of any demographic.

If you're a parent, the cheapest way to cover a teen is to add them to your own policy, as stand-alone policies will be much more expensive. Overall, we found that Nationwide offered the cheapest, widely available insurance for a parent adding a teenage driver to their policy, though the most affordable insurer varied by region and state. And insurance companies with less regional availability, like Erie, or membership qualifications, such as USAA, have some of the cheapest insurance for teens.

Below, you can find the cheapest auto insurance companies in your area for young drivers. Or you can enter your ZIP code above to begin comparing insurance rates immediately.

Cheapest car insurance company for parents with a teen driver

We found that the cheapest widely available auto insurance for teen drivers is offered by Nationwide. A Nationwide policy with a teen and parent costs an average of $1,266 for six months, which is less than half the price of the national average of $2,859.

Although the companies aren't an option for everyone, Erie and USAA were the cheapest insurers overall. Erie is only available in 12 states and Washington, D.C., while USAA only offers policies to current and former military members. If you are looking to add a teenager to your car insurance policy, you should definitely consider these companies.

Graph showing the cheapest auto insurance companies for new and young drivers

Find Cheap Auto Insurance Quotes in Your Area

Currently insured?

We limited the graph above to seven insurance companies that had quotes available in at least three of the 10 states used in this study, but these insurers may not necessarily be the best option for you and your teen. We found that in some cases smaller regional insurers provided cheaper rates.

And in your given state, a major insurer may be particularly cheap. For example, Nationwide was the cheapest major insurer on average, but Geico was the cheapest insurer in four out of our 10 sample states.

Insurer
Annual Cost
Geico logo
Erie$1,266
USAA logo
USAA$1,294
Nationwide logo
Nationwide$1,703
Geico logo
Geico$1,716
State Farm logo
State Farm$2,588
Show All Rows

*USAA is only available to current and former military members and their families.

The cost of adding a teen to your car insurance policy

Typically, adding a teen driver to their parents' policy will be a cheaper alternative to getting a teen a car insurance policy on their own. In fact, it is half as expensive to add a teen to a policy than it is for them to get their own individual policy.

The average cost of adding an 18-year-old to a car insurance policy is $1,510 per six months. But the average cost of an 18-year-old getting a policy by themselves is $3,589 per six months.

The person most affected in this case is the parent, who is taking on a significant risk by adding a new, teen driver to their policy. As a result, insurance companies will increase their yearly payments.

Graph shows differences between a teenager getting car insurance through a parent or by themselves

Keeping your teen on your policy saves families an average of $2,080 every six months — a 44% reduction in auto insurance costs — compared to the cost of the same 18-year-old getting their own policy.

Cheapest auto insurance for teen drivers by state

The cheapest insurance in your state may not actually reflect the cheapest overall insurers listed above, as car insurance rates for teens vary widely from state to state. And certain companies were excluded from our national analysis, as they are only available in some states and not for all drivers.

Below, we have provided a full list of the cheapest auto insurers for young drivers in all of the 10 states included in our study.

California

{"align":"center","buttonColor":"primary","buttonIcon":"lock","buttonText":"Get a Quote","category":"auto_insurance_companies","className":"","cloudinaryImageName":"referral_logos\/us\/insurance\/mercury-2","cssNamespace":"AffiliateTileBanner","context":"","disclaimers":[""],"isButtonSquare":true,"isUnavailable":false,"link":"https:\/\/insurance.mediaalpha.com\/zero-click.html?cu=https:\/\/www.mercuryinsurance.com\/&carrier=Mercury;TKzt2XWu22mNOdQNJ2a4RzoV6BRPpNDUopJCfh7rAsgYilC61MaFepVn5p1L6_mIOJTZIazfFd3kcRBYBf9NIndYo-7WqA","name":"Mercury"}

For a 50-year-old parent adding an 18-year-old teen to their policy, we found that Mercury insurance is the cheapest in California. A full coverage policy costs an average of $2,738 per year.

Mercury is cheap to begin with for older drivers, and only State Farm and Farmers charged less when our sample driver added their teenager to the policy.

Company
Annual premium for 50-year-old with teenager
Without teenager
Difference
Mercury$2,738$1,486$1,251
State Farm$2,899$2,019$880
Auto Club$3,220$1,591$1,629
Farmers$3,321$2,267$1,054
Progressive$4,450$1,610$2,840
CSAA$4,608$1,932$2,676
Allstate$4,732$1,891$2,841
Geico$5,756$1,339$4,416

*50-year-old with teenager

Florida

Geico is the cheapest option for Florida parents adding a teen to their car insurance. Whereas a 50-year-old will pay $1,723 per year for car insurance by themselves, they'll pay an average of $3,500 with their teen on the policy.

{"align":"center","buttonColor":"primary","buttonIcon":"lock","buttonText":"Get a Quote","category":"auto_insurance_companies","className":"","cloudinaryImageName":"referral_logos\/us\/insurance\/geico-5","cssNamespace":"AffiliateTileBanner","context":"","disclaimers":[""],"isButtonSquare":true,"isUnavailable":false,"link":"https:\/\/www.geico.com\/","name":"Geico"}

State Farm, Allstate and Progressive all charged in excess of $2,500 per year for adding a teen to the policy.

Company
Annual premium for 50-year-old with teenager
Without teenager
Difference
Geico$3,500$1,723$1,777
State Farm$4,800$2,149$2,651
Allstate$9,098$5,095$4,003
Progressive$9,430$4,234$5,197

Georgia

Drivers in Georgia looking to add a teen to their policy should take a look at the Georgia Farm Bureau. It has some of the lowest rates in the state and didn't charge our sample driver much extra to add a son or daughter to their car insurance. A full coverage policy with both the parent and teen costs an average of $2,676 per year.

{"align":"center","buttonColor":"primary","buttonIcon":"lock","buttonText":"Get a Quote","category":"auto_insurance_companies","className":"","cloudinaryImageName":"referral_logos\/us\/insurance\/farmbureau-3","cssNamespace":"AffiliateTileBanner","context":"","disclaimers":[""],"isButtonSquare":true,"isUnavailable":false,"link":"https:\/\/www.scfbins.com\/","name":"Farm Bureau Insurance"}

Georgia parents who qualify for USAA should also get a quote from that company, as its rates were even cheaper than the Farm Bureau on average.

Company
Annual premium for 50-year-old with teenager
Without teenager
Difference
USAA$2,676$1,210$1,466
Georgia Farm Bureau$2,688$1,277$1,411
Geico$3,997$1,846$2,150
Progressive$5,792$2,068$3,723
Allstate$7,028$3,275$3,754
State Farm$12,270$5,199$7,071

Illinois

For Illinois parents adding a teen to their policy, USAA is the cheapest option by far. But for those who don't qualify for USAA, the next-best option on average is State Farm. Car insurance covering a parent and teen costs an average of $2,929 per year with State Farm.

{"align":"center","buttonColor":"primary","buttonIcon":"lock","buttonText":"Get a Quote","category":"auto_insurance_companies","className":"","cloudinaryImageName":"referral_logos\/us\/insurance\/statefarm-2","cssNamespace":"AffiliateTileBanner","context":"","disclaimers":[""],"isButtonSquare":true,"isUnavailable":false,"link":"https:\/\/insurance.mediaalpha.com\/zero-click.html?cu=https:\/\/www.statefarm.com\/insurance\/auto&carrier=State%20Farm;TKzt2XWu22mNOdQNJ2a4RzoV6BRPpNDUopJCfh7rAsgYilC61MaFepVn5p1L6_mIOJTZIazfFd3kcRBYBf9NIndYo-7WqA","name":"State Farm"}

Some notable companies such as Farmers and Allstate are already expensive for a single driver, but even more expensive when adding a teen, almost doubling their costs.

Company
Annual premium for 50-year-old with teenager
Without teenager
Difference
USAA$2,096$1,004$1,092
State Farm$2,929$1,183$1,745
Geico$3,504$1,958$1,546
Progressive$3,505$1,556$1,949
Country$3,654$1,647$2,007
Travelers$4,345$1,816$2,530
American Family$4,358$1,630$2,728
Farmers$7,711$3,231$4,480
Allstate$9,019$3,616$5,403

Michigan

Michigan is the most expensive state in the country for car insurance, but two companies stand out for parents looking to add a teen to their policy: USAA and Auto-Owners Insurance. The latter is available to everyone and charges $4,727 per year for a full coverage policy that covers both a parent and teen.

{"align":"center","buttonColor":"primary","buttonIcon":"lock","buttonText":"Get a Quote","category":"auto_insurance_companies","className":"","cloudinaryImageName":"referral_logos\/us\/insurance\/autoowners-3","cssNamespace":"AffiliateTileBanner","context":"","disclaimers":[""],"isButtonSquare":true,"isUnavailable":false,"link":"https:\/\/www.auto-owners.com\/","name":"Auto-Owners"}

USAA is the cheapest policy but may not be available to you. Progressive is the only other relatively affordable option we surveyed; Frankenmuth, State Farm, AAA and Hanover all charge in excess of — and sometimes much more than — $8,000 per year.

Company
Annual premium for 50-year-old with teenager
Without teenager
Difference
USAA$3,768$2,324$1,445
Auto-Owners Insurance Co$4,724$3,593$1,131
Progressive$5,606$3,383$2,224
Frankenmuth Mutual$8,050$2,900$5,149
State Farm$11,072$4,817$6,255
AAA$25,131$9,313$15,818
Allstate$27,354$14,893$12,462
Hanover$41,628$22,823$18,805

New York

New York is another state in which Geico is the most affordable option for parents with a teen. Geico charged our 50-year-old sample driver $2,094 per year by himself, and an additional $1,477 to add a teen, resulting in a total cost of $3,571 per year.

{"align":"center","buttonColor":"primary","buttonIcon":"lock","buttonText":"Get a Quote","category":"auto_insurance_companies","className":"","cloudinaryImageName":"referral_logos\/us\/insurance\/geico-5","cssNamespace":"AffiliateTileBanner","context":"","disclaimers":[""],"isButtonSquare":true,"isUnavailable":false,"link":"https:\/\/www.geico.com\/","name":"Geico"}

For those who qualify, USAA is also an affordable option. At $3,713 per year it was only a few hundred dollars more than Geico.

Company
Annual premium for 50-year-old with teenager
Without teenager
Difference
Geico$3,571$2,094$1,477
USAA$3,713$1,327$2,385
New York Central Mutual Fire$5,312$2,771$2,541
Travelers$6,482$3,222$3,260
State Farm$6,489$2,481$4,007
Progressive$7,148$2,367$4,781
Allstate$7,562$3,831$3,731

North Carolina

In North Carolina, insurers charge relatively little to add a teenager to a policy. For instance, parents with a Geico policy will pay an average of $393 more per year when they add their teen on the policy. In full, with both parent and teen, the policy costs an average of $1,505 per year.

{"align":"center","buttonColor":"primary","buttonIcon":"lock","buttonText":"Get a Quote","category":"auto_insurance_companies","className":"","cloudinaryImageName":"referral_logos\/us\/insurance\/geico-5","cssNamespace":"AffiliateTileBanner","context":"","disclaimers":[""],"isButtonSquare":true,"isUnavailable":false,"link":"https:\/\/www.geico.com\/","name":"Geico"}

North Carolina Farm Bureau, Erie and Progressive are also three reasonably affordable options for parents, as prices range from $1,682 to $1,797 per year.

Company
Annual premium for 50-year-old with teenager
Without teenager
Difference
Geico$3,571$2,094$1,477
USAA$3,713$1,327$2,385
New York Central Mutual Fire$5,312$2,771$2,541
Travelers$6,482$3,222$3,260
State Farm$6,489$2,481$4,007
Progressive$7,148$2,367$4,781
Allstate$7,562$3,831$3,731

Ohio

As in many of our other states, Geico is the cheapest option in Ohio for parents with a teen. A Geico policy cost our driver an average of $2,179 per year, roughly double the price of a 50-year-old getting a policy that just covers themself.

{"align":"center","buttonColor":"primary","buttonIcon":"lock","buttonText":"Get a Quote","category":"auto_insurance_companies","className":"","cloudinaryImageName":"referral_logos\/us\/insurance\/geico-5","cssNamespace":"AffiliateTileBanner","context":"","disclaimers":[""],"isButtonSquare":true,"isUnavailable":false,"link":"https:\/\/www.geico.com\/","name":"Geico"}

State Farm is a distant second, costing almost $400 more than Geico. State Farm is actually cheaper if you're a parent who doesn't add their teen to the policy, but it charged our sample driver an additional $1,444 on average if they added their son or daughter.

Company
Annual premium for 50-year-old with teenager
Without teenager
Difference
Geico$2,179$1,141$1,037
State Farm$2,509$1,065$1,444
Nationwide$3,066$1,892$1,175
Westfield$3,468$1,267$2,201
Erie$3,496$1,735$1,761
Progressive$3,871$1,494$2,377
Allstate$4,154$2,145$2,009
Grange Mutual$4,932$1,303$3,629

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is another case in which USAA is the cheapest option overall. But for those who don't qualify, Erie is the most affordable option. A parent and teen covered under an Erie policy costs an average of $2,355 per year, almost $500 cheaper than the next best alternative.

{"align":"center","buttonColor":"primary","buttonIcon":"lock","buttonText":"Get a Quote","category":"auto_insurance_companies","className":"","cloudinaryImageName":"referral_logos\/us\/insurance\/erie-3","cssNamespace":"AffiliateTileBanner","context":"","disclaimers":[""],"isButtonSquare":true,"isUnavailable":false,"link":"https:\/\/www.erieinsurance.com\/OnlineQuote\/","name":"Erie"}

Allstate and Progressive rate as especially expensive in Pennsylvania. If you're interested in these companies, it may still be worth getting a quote, as insurance rates can vary widely person to person. But on average, these companies are not cheap options in Pennsylvania.

Company
Annual premium for 50-year-old with teenager
Without teenager
Difference
USAA$1,303$740$563
Erie$2,355$1,162$1,193
Nationwide$2,821$1,708$1,113
State Farm$3,267$1,355$1,912
Geico$3,342$2,159$1,183
Allstate$5,029$2,730$2,299
Progressive$5,495$2,115$3,380

Texas

State Farm just beats out Geico as the cheapest widely available insurance company in the state. Our driver paid $1,385 for insurance alone, and $3,178 when he added his teen to the policy.

{"align":"center","buttonColor":"primary","buttonIcon":"lock","buttonText":"Get a Quote","category":"auto_insurance_companies","className":"","cloudinaryImageName":"referral_logos\/us\/insurance\/statefarm-2","cssNamespace":"AffiliateTileBanner","context":"","disclaimers":[""],"isButtonSquare":true,"isUnavailable":false,"link":"https:\/\/insurance.mediaalpha.com\/zero-click.html?cu=https:\/\/www.statefarm.com\/insurance\/auto&carrier=State%20Farm;TKzt2XWu22mNOdQNJ2a4RzoV6BRPpNDUopJCfh7rAsgYilC61MaFepVn5p1L6_mIOJTZIazfFd3kcRBYBf9NIndYo-7WqA","name":"State Farm"}

Once again, for those who qualify, USAA is a very affordable option. In fact, it's $1,400 per year cheaper than State Farm on average, so Texas drivers adding a teenager to their policy should make sure to get a quote if they can.

Company
Annual premium for 50-year-old with teenager
Without teenager
Difference
USAA$1,976$1,078$899
State Farm$3,179$1,385$1,794
Geico$3,543$1,991$1,552
Allstate$11,505$4,047$7,458

More ways for teens to save on car insurance

There are several ways that young drivers can save money on car insurance.

The first is by qualifying for discounts, as most major insurers offer discounts targeted toward young drivers.

These include discounts for:

  • being a good student
  • taking a driver's education course

Additionally — if a teen is on their parent's policy — most large insurance companies will reduce car insurance premiums if the teen is away at school and has limited access to a vehicle.

Another significant way to reduce costs is by omitting coverages that may be unnecessary and expensive for teen drivers — such as collision insurance.

Collision insurance is costly for teen drivers because this demographic is statistically more likely to get into an accident and file an insurance claim than more experienced drivers.

If your car is worth less than a few thousand dollars, getting collision coverage will not be worth the increase in premiums, and we recommend opting for basic coverage instead.

Expert Insights to Help You Make Smarter Financial Decisions

ValuePenguin has curated an exclusive panel of professionals, spanning various areas of expertise, to help dissect difficult subjects and empower you to make smarter financial decisions. Read on for auto insurance insights.

  1. Do you feel that parents having their teen children take on the responsibility of a big purchase, such as a car, provides a teachable moment that is worth the monetary cost? Why or why not?
  2. Some states prohibit the use of gender to determine insurance rates, even though the motor vehicle death rate of male 16- to 19-year-olds is nearly double that of females of the same age. How do male and female teens pose different levels of risk to insurers?
  3. The North Carolina Department of Transportation has the right under law to suspend teens’ driving privileges if they drop out of school or do not pass at least 70% of their courses. Should academics play a strong role in a teen’s eligibility to drive? Why or why not?
  4. What is the psychological difference between learning in the classroom and learning "on the road" as a driver?

headshot of expert
  • Emily Barkley-Levenson, Ph.D.
  • Assistant Professor of Psychology
  • Read Answer

The commentary provided by these industry experts represent their viewpoints and opinions alone.

{"backgroundColor":"white","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"full pad-none align-left clearfix\"\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EValuePenguin has curated an exclusive panel of professionals, spanning various areas of expertise, to help dissect difficult subjects and empower you to make smarter financial decisions. Read on for auto insurance insights.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root\"\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content ShortcodeList--content-margin\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Col class=\"ListOrdered--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListOrdered--list-item\"\u003EDo you feel that parents having their teen children take on the responsibility of a big purchase, such as a car, provides a teachable moment that is worth the monetary cost? Why or why not?\u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListOrdered--list-item\"\u003ESome states prohibit the use of gender to determine insurance rates, even though the motor vehicle death rate of male 16- to 19-year-olds is nearly double that of females of the same age. How do male and female teens pose different levels of risk to insurers?\u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListOrdered--list-item\"\u003EThe North Carolina Department of Transportation has the right under law to suspend teens\u2019 driving privileges if they drop out of school or do not pass at least 70% of their courses. Should academics play a strong role in a teen\u2019s eligibility to drive? Why or why not?\u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListOrdered--list-item\"\u003EWhat is the psychological difference between learning in the classroom and learning \"on the road\" as a driver?\u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ol\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Chr\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"full pad-none align-left clearfix\"\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"third pad-half align-left clearfix\"\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--root left\" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cimg alt=\"headshot of expert\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" style=\"width: 80px;\" data-src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/emily-barkley-levenson_uajgkh\" src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_80\/v1\/emily-barkley-levenson_uajgkh\" data-srcset=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/emily-barkley-levenson_uajgkh 1x, http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_80\/v1\/emily-barkley-levenson_uajgkh 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root \"\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\"ListUnordered--root ListUnordered--plain\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cstrong\u003EEmily Barkley-Levenson, Ph.D.\u003C\/strong\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Assistant Professor of Psychology\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Read Answer\" href=\"#expert-emily-barkley-levenson\"\u003ERead Answer\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeDisclaimer--root ShortcodeDisclaimer--root \"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ContextualDisclaimer--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ContextualDisclaimer--copy\"\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003EThe commentary provided by these industry experts represent their viewpoints and opinions alone.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n \n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n","padding":"double"}
headshot of expert

Emily Barkley-Levenson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Psychology, Hofstra University

Do you feel that parents having their teen children take on the responsibility of a big purchase, such as a car, provides a teachable moment that is worth the monetary cost? Why or why not?

A lot of the attributes that make up what it means to be responsible, like self-control and delayed gratification, are still developing during adolescence and into early adulthood. In fact, the part of the brain that is responsible for these processes, the prefrontal cortex, is still maturing until around age 25. These are also skills that can be trained and improved with practice, which means that the teen years are a great time to work out those self-control muscles, so to speak. Taking on increased responsibility and autonomy with a car can provide an adolescent with lots of chances to build up their self-control and delayed gratification skills. There’s also a phenomenon called the endowment effect, where we value things more if they belong to us or we have a sense of ownership over them. So having your teen pay for their car themselves (or at least contribute their own money toward it) should increase the value they place on it, leading to safer and more responsible behavior.

Some states prohibit the use of gender to determine insurance rates, even though the motor vehicle death rate of male 16- to 19-year-olds is nearly double that of females of the same age. How do male and female teens pose different levels of risk to insurers?

The research is quite clear that men engage in more risky behaviors than women, including wearing seat belts less frequently and running yellow lights more often. Women perceive a higher likelihood of negative consequences and less enjoyment from these actions than men do, which leads to less risk-taking behind the wheel. I expect these findings would play out similarly with adolescent boys and girls as well. That said, statistical averages can’t predict the actions of any particular individual; teens of all genders can be reckless and risk-taking, and there are many teen boys who are extremely safe drivers.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has the right under law to suspend teens’ driving privileges if they drop out of school or do not pass at least 70% of their courses. Should academics play a strong role in a teen’s eligibility to drive? Why or why not?

The reasons why driving privileges are revoked typically have to do with safety (underage possession of alcohol, speeding or reckless driving, etc.). In this case, if there isn’t a strong connection between dangerous driving and poor academic performance, then linking the two in terms of policy doesn’t seem particularly effective. Academic performance does relate to other health-risk behaviors (like violence and drug use), but this is one of those cases of correlation not being the same thing as causation: Other factors such as family stress and poverty can make teens more likely both to underperform academically and to engage in health-risk behaviors, but skipping school doesn’t cause you to drive more poorly.

What is the psychological difference between learning in the classroom and learning "on the road" as a driver?

Something that shows up over and over again in research with adolescents is a big difference in behavior between "cold" settings (nonemotional, intellectual contexts like a lab or a classroom) and "hot" settings (emotional situations in the real world, especially when peers and social pressure are involved). A teen may make entirely rational and safe decisions in the classroom (or when a driving instructor is in the car) but take risks on the road when they are more "amped up" by the presence of their friends.

{"backgroundColor":"white","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--root left\" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImage--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cimg alt=\"headshot of expert\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" style=\"width: 60px;\" data-src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/emily-barkley-levenson_uajgkh\" src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_60\/v1\/emily-barkley-levenson_uajgkh\" data-srcset=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/emily-barkley-levenson_uajgkh 1x, http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_60\/v1\/emily-barkley-levenson_uajgkh 2x\"\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3 id=\"expert-emily-barkley-levenson\"\u003EEmily Barkley-Levenson, Ph.D.\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EAssistant Professor of Psychology, Hofstra University\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--root ShortcodeToggle--article \" id=\u003E\n \u003Cbutton class=\"ShortcodeToggle--toggle\" onclick=\"this.parentNode.classList.toggle('ShortcodeToggle--open');\"\u003E\u003Cp class=\"ShortcodeToggle--label\"\u003ESee their advice\u003C\/p\u003E\u003C\/button\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents-wrapper\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeToggle--contents\"\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EDo you feel that parents having their teen children take on the responsibility of a big purchase, such as a car, provides a teachable moment that is worth the monetary cost? Why or why not?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EA lot of the attributes that make up what it means to be responsible, like self-control and delayed gratification, are still developing during adolescence and into early adulthood. In fact, the part of the brain that is responsible for these processes, the prefrontal cortex, is still maturing until around age 25. These are also skills that can be trained and improved with practice, which means that the teen years are a great time to work out those self-control muscles, so to speak. Taking on increased responsibility and autonomy with a car can provide an adolescent with lots of chances to build up their self-control and delayed gratification skills. \nThere\u2019s also a phenomenon called the endowment effect, where we value things more if they belong to us or we have a sense of ownership over them. So having your teen pay for their car themselves (or at least contribute their own money toward it) should increase the value they place on it, leading to safer and more responsible behavior.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003ESome states prohibit the use of gender to determine insurance rates, even though the motor vehicle death rate of male 16- to 19-year-olds is nearly double that of females of the same age. How do male and female teens pose different levels of risk to insurers?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EThe research is quite clear that men engage in more risky behaviors than women, including wearing seat belts less frequently and running yellow lights more often. Women perceive a higher likelihood of negative consequences and less enjoyment from these actions than men do, which leads to less risk-taking behind the wheel. I expect these findings would play out similarly with adolescent boys and girls as well. That said, statistical averages can\u2019t predict the actions of any particular individual; teens of all genders can be reckless and risk-taking, and there are many teen boys who are extremely safe drivers.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EThe North Carolina Department of Transportation has the right under law to suspend teens\u2019 driving privileges if they drop out of school or do not pass at least 70% of their courses. Should academics play a strong role in a teen\u2019s eligibility to drive? Why or why not?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EThe reasons why driving privileges are revoked typically have to do with safety (underage possession of alcohol, speeding or reckless driving, etc.). In this case, if there isn\u2019t a strong connection between dangerous driving and poor academic performance, then linking the two in terms of policy doesn\u2019t seem particularly effective. Academic performance does relate to other health-risk behaviors (like violence and drug use), but this is one of those cases of correlation not being the same thing as causation: Other factors such as family stress and poverty can make teens more likely both to underperform academically and to engage in health-risk behaviors, but skipping school doesn\u2019t \u003Cem\u003Ecause\u003C\/em\u003E you to drive more poorly.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003EWhat is the psychological difference between learning in the classroom and learning \"on the road\" as a driver?\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003ESomething that shows up over and over again in research with adolescents is a big difference in behavior between \"cold\" settings (nonemotional, intellectual contexts like a lab or a classroom) and \"hot\" settings (emotional situations in the real world, especially when peers and social pressure are involved). A teen may make entirely rational and safe decisions in the classroom (or when a driving instructor is in the car) but take risks on the road when they are more \"amped up\" by the presence of their friends.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--root ShortcodeAlign--horizontal-center\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--container\"\u003E \n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root Button--root Button--primary Button--auto-width\" title=\"Back to all experts\" href=\"#expertadvice\"\u003EBack to all experts\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n","padding":"double"}

Frequently asked questions

What's the best insurer for a teen driver?

We found low prices for a teen driver at Erie, USAA and Nationwide. But every driver will get rates tailored to them, so you should get quotes from at least five insurers to compare prices.

How can I save on insurance as a teenager?

The best way to bring down your insurance rates as a teen is to share a policy with your parents or another family member. A family policy is often substantially cheaper than the total cost of two separate policies.

What are the best teen driver discounts?

Insurers often provide discounts to teen drivers for getting good grades, taking an additional training course beyond basic driver's education and being away at school, where you won't be using your parents' car much.

Methodology

We pulled car insurance quotes from over 23 companies in 10 states for a sample 50-year-old male driver who drives a 2015 Honda Civic EX. The rates for a teenager are an average of rates for 18-year-old males and females.

We used a full coverage policy with the following limits and deductibles:

Coverage type
Study limits
Bodily liability$50,000 per person/ $100,000 per accident
Property damage$25,000 per accident
Uninsured/Underinsured motorist BI$50,000 per person/ $100,000 per accident
Uninsured/Underinsured motorist property$50,000 per accident
Comprehensive & collision$500 deductible

ValuePenguin's analysis used insurance rate data from Quadrant Information Services. These rates were publicly sourced from insurer filings and should be used for comparative purposes only — your own quotes may be different.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.