How to Buy Car Insurance for the First Time

How to Buy Car Insurance for the First Time

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State Farm has the cheapest car insurance quotes for first-time drivers — rates are 64% cheaper than average.

The average cost of a minimum-coverage policy is $3,454 per year for an 18-year-old driver, while a 30-year-old can expect to pay $1,118 per year.

First-time drivers can shop for insurance online or through an independent agent who has access to rates from multiple companies but may not offer quotes from major insurers.


How to get car insurance for the first time

When buying car insurance for the first time, you will need to:

  1. Gather personal and vehicle information
  2. Decide how much coverage you need
  3. Get online quotes or work with an insurance agent
  4. Compare quotes to make sure you're getting the best deal

What do you need to get car insurance for the first time?

When you're shopping for quotes, you will need some personal info for you and anyone else listed on the policy:

  • Driver's license
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • Occupation
  • Marital status
  • Education level
  • Driving history
  • Insurance history

You will also need details about your vehicle, including the year, make and model.

Some of this information — like driving history and location — will affect the cost of insurance for first-time drivers.

When comparing car insurance quotes, write down the reference numbers so you can come back to them later.

Keep in mind that you'll usually need to sign up for a policy within a few weeks to get the price you're quoted. Prices won't usually change much, but you could see rates go up if you have a change in your credit score or get a ticket.

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How to get car insurance before buying a car

Some dealerships may offer to sell you insurance during the car-buying process. However, the insurance they offer is typically very expensive, so it's important to compare other quotes to ensure you're getting the cheapest rate.

Insurance companies require you to provide your car's vehicle identification number (VIN) to purchase a policy. However, you can get a quote from most companies without the VIN — you'll just need to provide the make, model and year of the car you're planning to purchase. Once you've chosen a car, you can contact the insurance company to provide the VIN and pay for your policy.

If you're not planning on buying a car but occasionally drive someone else's vehicle, you can purchase nonowner car insurance. This type of policy can protect you financially if you cause an accident, but it won't pay for any damage to the vehicle you're driving.


First-time driver insurance cost

The cost of insurance for a first-time driver varies significantly based on their age. On average, car insurance for 18-year-old first-time drivers cost $288 per month for a minimum-coverage policy, which is $195 per month more than a 30-year-old first-time driver pays for the same coverage.

First-time driver car insurance by company

18-year-old

30-year-old

State Farm has the cheapest car insurance quotes for 18-year-old first-time drivers. A minimum-coverage policy costs $1,533 per year, which is 56% cheaper than average.

Graph comparing car insurance rates for an 18-year-old first-time driver

Full-coverage car insurance is also more affordable from State Farm. At $3,243 per year, a policy is 66% cheaper than average.

18-year-old

State Farm has the cheapest car insurance quotes for 18-year-old first-time drivers. A minimum-coverage policy costs $1,533 per year, which is 56% cheaper than average.

Graph comparing car insurance rates for an 18-year-old first-time driver

Full-coverage car insurance is also more affordable from State Farm. At $3,243 per year, a policy is 66% cheaper than average.

30-year-old

State Farm offers the cheapest car insurance quotes for 30-year-old first-time drivers. A minimum-coverage policy costs $566 per year — roughly half the price of the average policy for these drivers.

Graph comparing car insurance rates for a 30-year-old first-time driver

The cheapest full-coverage insurance also comes from State Farm. At $1,360 per year, a policy is $1,295 per year less than average.

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Average annual minimum-coverage rates

Company
18-year-old
30-year-old
State Farm$1,533$566
Geico$1,917$1,132
Average$3,454$1,118
Nationwide$3,867$1,103
Progressive$6,498$1,670
Allstate$7,380$1,480

Why first-time drivers pay more for car insurance than experienced drivers

Experienced drivers pay far less than new drivers because insurance companies consider them lower risks for getting into an accident or filing a claim.

Driving experience is one of the most important factors when it comes to setting car insurance rates.

However, there are many factors that affect the price of car insurance for new drivers, including location, demographic profile, driving history and experience.


Finding cheap car insurance for first-time drivers

Drivers can find cheap car insurance by:

How to shop for car insurance

We recommend comparing quotes from multiple car insurance companies to determine which company offers the cheapest insurance quotes for first-time drivers.

While first-time drivers usually have higher car insurance quotes than more experienced drivers, you can still save by comparing insurers. Different companies use different factors when calculating your rates, and some of the more well-known insurance companies may not necessarily offer the lowest possible rates.

It's easy to gather insurance quotes online. However, an independent insurance agent may provide you with multiple quotes and help you select the right coverage limits.

Finally, make sure you're taking advantage of every car insurance discount available to you when looking for cheap first-time car insurance. Sometimes you can see these discounts through a company's online quote tool, but you may be eligible for even more discounts if you talk to an insurance agent before finalizing your quote.


Selecting the right amount of coverage

One way to save money on car insurance is to buy only as much as is necessary for your situation. It's important to understand the different types of coverage, requirements and how much car insurance you really need. Otherwise, you're paying out of pocket for unnecessary expenses.

Type of coverage
Is it required?
Do I need this coverage?
Bodily injury liabilityYes, except in FloridaYes, higher limits offer more protection if you cause an accident
Property damage liabilityYes, in every stateYes, higher limits offer more protection if you cause an accident
Collision and comprehensiveNo, unless you lease or finance a vehicleMaybe, if your car is newer than 8-12 years old
Uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM)Yes, but only in 21 states Yes, higher limits offer more protection
Personal injury protection (PIP)Yes, but only in 16 states Not needed unless your health coverage does not include auto-related injuries
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We recommend purchasing as much coverage as you can afford so that you're protected if you cause a major accident. First-time drivers shopping for the cheapest policy possible may consider purchasing minimum liability coverage. However, it could cost you more in the long run if you cause significant damage or injuries to another driver.


Improving factors that affect insurance rates for first-time drivers

Many factors affect car insurance rates for first-time drivers. Some of them can't be controlled, such as age and location. But there are important factors, like your credit score, that you can take steps to improve over the long term to potentially lower your insurance rates.

If you have a low credit score, insurers think you are more likely to file higher claims, leading to higher car insurance costs in many states. Drivers can raise their credit scores by making credit payments on time and utilizing only a small portion of the credit available to them. An increase in your credit score could result in more affordable car insurance payments.

Gaining driving experience and being a safe driver will also result in insurance companies charging you less.


Frequently asked questions

How much is insurance for a first-time driver?

Two of the most important pricing factors for you as a first-time driver are your age and the amount of coverage you choose. An 18-year-old first-time driver can expect to pay an average of $3,454 per year for a minimum-coverage policy, while a 30-year-old first-time driver pays $1,118 per year for the same coverage, on average.

Do you need insurance to buy a car?

Yes, car dealerships will not let you drive your new car off of the lot without proof of insurance. In addition, if you're financing or leasing your car, you'll probably be required to purchase comprehensive and collision coverage to protect your new car against damage.

Why is car insurance so expensive for young drivers?

Young drivers have less experience behind the wheel. That means that they're more likely to get into an accident and file a claim with the insurance company. Insurance companies charge young drivers higher rates to compensate for the higher likelihood that they'll file a claim.

How will buying auto insurance help you?

Having an auto insurance policy helps drivers in a few different ways. Most states require drivers to purchase a minimum amount of insurance, so having a policy will keep you from receiving a ticket or fine if you're pulled over. Car insurance protects you financially if you're sued after causing damage or injuring someone in an accident. In addition, full-coverage insurance can help pay to repair damage to your own car, regardless of who is at fault.

Methodology

To compare car insurance quotes for first-time drivers, we analyzed car insurance quotes from ZIP codes across Texas. Our sample driver was a single male who drives a 2015 Honda Civic EX with an average credit score and no driving experience. The only parameter that changed was the driver's age, which was either 18 or 30 years old.

Quotes are based on the following coverage limits:

Coverage
Minimum coverage
Full coverage
Bodily injury liability$30,000/$60,000$50,000/$100,000
Property damage liability$25,000$25,000
Uninsured/underinsured motorist property damagewaived$50,000/$100,000
Comprehensive and collisionwaived$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.

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