Teen Ready to Drive? Get Ready to Pay

Joke’s on you, Mom and Dad. Your teen driver will boost your auto insurance premium rates by an average 80 percent.

So you’re the parent of a teenager who’s itching to get behind the wheel of the family car. As nerve-wracking as the thought might be, truth be told, you’re ready for a break from all that chauffeuring back and forth to the practices, the games, the recitals, etc. Oh, but there’s a catch. Enjoy the freedom, but get ready to pay for it.

E3 Spark Plugs recently spotted a new study commissioned by insuranceQuotes.com shows that once your teen starts driving and gets added to your existing automobile insurance policy, you’re looking at a boost in your insurance premium rates of upwards of 80 percent – more if your kid’s a boy. Here’s the lowdown:

  • The average married couple’s insurance rates go up 79 percent when a teen driver is added to the policy. That’s a 5-notch drop from last year’s 84 percent jump, but it’s still no picnic;
  • Your teenage boy will jack up your insurance rates by an average 92 percent;
  • Your teen daughter will raise your rates by 67 percent;
  • The younger your teen, the higher your new rate. A 16-year-old adds an average 96 percent boost, but that rate will drop to 58 percent by age 19.

As maddening as the news is for parents, we can’t blame the insurance companies too much. Drivers who are 16 to 19 years old are three time more likely than 20-year-old drivers to be involved in a fatal car crash, so say researchers with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Auto accidents are the leading cause of death among American teenagers, killing some 2,700 teens each year and injuring another 282,000. Statistics show that among male drivers between 15 and 20 involved in fatal crashes in 2010, 39 percent were speeding at the time of the crash and a quarter of them had been drinking. And, teens have the lowest rate of seatbelt use, with just 54 percent of high school students saying they always buckle up.

Though young drivers age 15 to 24 make up just 14 percent of the US population, they account for some 30 percent of the total costs for auto accident-related injuries among males ($19 billion) and 28 percent of the same costs among females ($7 billion).

Fortunately, there are a few ways to help keep the costs of a teen behind the wheel at bay. Most insurance companies offer discounts for students with high grades or who are enrolled in college. Car alarms, daytime running lights, antilock brakes, air bags and other safety features also can score you discounts. In any case, tell that kid to get a job.