How Age Affects Car Insurance Costs

How Age Affects Car Insurance Costs

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Age is one of the primary factors insurance companies consider when coming up with a car insurance quote. To an auto insurance company, a driver's age measures their driving experience and accident risk.

When a driver has more years behind the wheel, they're less likely to get into an accident and submit a claim for reimbursement. That means they'll cost less to insure and will get cheaper quotes.

Average car insurance by age

We took a look at quotes across more than 20 companies and found that the youngest and oldest drivers pay significantly more than middle-aged drivers.

Here are the average costs of car insurance by age:

This graph plots auto insurance costs by age for 16- to 70-year-old drivers.
This graph plots auto insurance costs by age for 16- to 70-year-old drivers.

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Quotes for teenagers are three times as expensive as quotes for drivers in their mid-30s and nearly four times the rate for drivers in their mid-50s. Once young drivers gain more experience and hit 25, their car insurance costs drop about 30%.

Costs continue to generally decline with each birthday. Once drivers reach 50, they'll see their best rates. Around age 60, however, auto insurance costs begin to increase and compare to what drivers see in their 40s.

How gender affects car insurance rates

Gender also plays a significant role in car insurance costs. Over a lifetime, men will pay around 12% more than women, though the price difference varies by age.

Until the age of 21, for example, men paid an average of 20% more than women in the four cities we sampled. This gap reverses after age 30, when our sample female driver paid about 2% more than our sample male driver.

You can see how age and gender affect auto insurance premiums in the table below:

Driver's ageMale driverFemale driverAverage
16$7,778$5,776$6,777
17$6,852$5,597$6,225
18$5,889$5,056$5,473
19$4,489$3,838$4,163
20$4,109$3,524$3,816
21$3,268$2,845$3,057
25$2,180$2,188$2,184
30$1,902$1,942$1,922
35$1,878$1,937$1,907
40$1,828$1,897$1,863
45$1,791$1,841$1,816
55$1,679$1,702$1,690
65$1,727$1,747$1,737
75$2,035$2,038$2,037
85$2,475$2,358$2,416

Why do younger and older drivers pay more for car insurance?

Young drivers pay more because statistics show that teenagers are inexperienced, making them more likely to get into car accidents compared to other age groups.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

  • Drivers aged 16 to 19 are three times more likely to be in a car accident.
  • In 2015, drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 accounted for 10% of all fatal accidents despite only accounting for 7% of all licensed drivers.

Thus, since your insurer thinks you're more likely to crash when you're young, your rates will be expensive. Experienced drivers in their mid-30s to late-50s have greater driving skills and road maturity, which typically means lower accident rates.

Once drivers enter their 60s, however, the trend begins to slowly reverse as age and slower reflexes begin to impact driving. Insurers typically start to charge seniors the most significantly once they enter their 70s. An 80-year-old driver ends up paying a bit more than a 25-year-old.

How to save money on car insurance as a younger or older driver

The most effective way for youthful and elderly drivers to save money on auto insurance is by shopping around, applying for discounts and joining someone else's policy.

Shopping around

Shopping around is the most effective way to save money when it comes to insurance costs. In our study on best car insurance for teens, we found that certain companies are better at pricing young drivers.

  • Erie is the most affordable insurer for young drivers.
  • GEICO tended to be more expensive for younger drivers than State Farm, though it is often the opposite for drivers over 25.

We would recommend you get quotes from at least three companies. Most large insurers let you start a quote online, making it easier to compare prices.

Discounts

Discounts are an easy way for younger and senior drivers to save money on their premiums.

Maintaining good grades (for young drivers still in school), and taking defensive-driving courses can save drivers up to 10% on their car insurance costs.

For seniors, companies like Allstate offer a "55 and Retired" discount where safe, retired drivers over the age of 55 will automatically qualify for a 10% discount. Some companies also allow drivers over the age of 55 to take defensive-driving courses to qualify for discounts.

Joining your parents' policy

We found it costs about 50% less to join your parents' auto policy than to start your own.

That's because your parents are taking on part of your risk as a young driver, so the insurance companies are more comfortable giving a lower price.

Be wary, however, that your parents' rate will increase significantly. If they're still willing to add you, it's a surefire way to get a lower rate.

Methodology and sources

To find the rates for each age group, we checked out two sample drivers:

  • A male and female
  • Our sample drivers had a 2015 Toyota Camry
  • They each drove 12,000 miles per year
  • The drivers had 25/50/25 liability insurance with collision and comprehensive coverage

We got quotes for each age group for both drivers in three cities located in New York, California and Michigan.

Statistics on teenage accidents came from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Mark is a Senior Research Analyst for ValuePenguin focusing on the insurance industry, primarily auto insurance. He previously worked in financial risk management at State Street Corporation.

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