How to Get Cheap Car Insurance at 18: The Complete Guide for Teen Drivers

Turning 18 is a major milestone. You can vote, enlist in the military, and get called for jury duty. It’s also the age when many teens start driving and need their own car insurance policy.

But here’s the catch – 18-year-old drivers pay the highest car insurance rates. The average 18-year-old pays a whopping $3,400 per year for full coverage according to 2021 data!

Fortunately, you can take steps to find cheap car insurance at 18. This comprehensive guide explains how to get the lowest possible rates.

Compare Quotes From Multiple Insurers

The #1 tip for cheap insurance at 18 is to compare quotes. Rates can vary dramatically between insurers based on their risk models and discounts.

Get quotes from at least 5-10 companies. National carriers like State Farm, Allstate, and GEICO are a good starting point. But also check rates from regional and lesser-known insurers.

You can compare quotes easily online through sites like WalletHub or an independent insurance agent. Be sure to compare the same exact coverage limits and deductibles for the most accurate rate comparison.

Ask About Discounts

Insurance companies offer dozens of discounts to lower premiums. Make sure you understand all the discounts available and see which ones you may qualify for.

Common discounts for teen drivers include:

  • Good Student – For B average or better
  • Driver’s Ed – For completing a class
  • Safety Features – For airbags, antilock brakes
  • Low Mileage – For driving less than a set limit per year

Multi-policy and multi-car discounts can also help teens who are on a parent’s policy. Discounts typically range from 10%-30% off your premium.

Pick an Older, Used Car

Brand new cars are the most expensive to insure because of their high value and repair costs. An older used car can slash insurance costs for teens.

For example, insuring a 10-year-old Honda Civic can cost $2,000 less per year compared to a new Honda Civic. Look for used vehicles with great safety ratings to maximize savings.

Ask About Parent-Teen Policies

Adding your teen as a driver to your own policy usually costs significantly less than a stand-alone policy. Premiums are based on the driving history and risk profile of the parents.

However, if you have a poor driving record, your teen’s rates may still be sky-high even under your policy. Have quotes run both ways to see which is cheaper.

Increase Deductibles

Deductibles are what you pay out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in after an accident. Raising your deductible from $500 to $1,000 could reduce premiums 15% or more. Just be sure you can afford the higher out-of-pocket cost if needed.

Enroll in Telematics Programs

Usage-based “telematics” programs use a device or app to track driving habits. Safe driving is rewarded through discounted premiums. This allows teens to prove they are lower risk.

Programs like Progressive’s Snapshot, State Farm’s Drive Safe & Save, and Allstate’s Drivewise can help teens save 10-30%.

Improve Your Credit

Yes, even teens have credit scores! Insurers may use credit-based insurance scores to set rates in most states. Maintaining good credit by always paying bills on time can help lower premiums.

Take Defensive Driver Courses

Defensive driving teaches accident avoidance skills. Completing an approved class qualifies you for insurance discounts in most states. Classes are often available online for convenience.

Shop Around Annually

Rates change all the time as teen drivers gain experience. It’s important to requote with different insurers every 6-12 months to find the best deal as you grow your driving resume.

Maintain Good Grades

A clean academic record demonstrates responsibility, and students with B averages or higher qualify for good student discounts. Checking this box each term keeps discounts coming.

Limit Driving

The more you drive, the more exposure to accidents you have. Cutting back on driving saves money directly through low-mileage discounts and minimizes claim risk.

Avoid Tickets and Accidents

Traffic violations and fender benders quickly erase any cheap rates for teens. Drive defensively, obey speed limits, and avoid distractions to keep a clean driving history.

Raise Liability Limits

Higher liability coverage isn’t required in most states, but it’s cheap and protects assets if you cause an accident. Ask your insurer for quotes at higher limits like 100/300/100.

Exclude Cosmetic Coverage

Keeping your paint job pristine isn’t worth higher premiums. Eliminate comprehensive and collision coverage to save big, but keep legally mandated liability coverage.

Pay Annually vs Monthly

Paying policy premiums annually rather than monthly avoids installment fees that insurers tack on for the convenience of spreading payments out.

Seek Group Discounts

Alumni, employee, and affinity group discounts are often overlooked. Ask about possible group savings through your high school, parents’ employers, or member organizations.

Maintain Continuous Coverage

Lapses in insurance history increase rates substantially. Keep coverage in place, even if it means a named non-owner policy when you’re between cars.

Choose a Top Safety Pick Car

Models like the Hyundai Elantra, Subaru Legacy, and Toyota Camry get top marks from IIHS and score the best rates. Avoid sports cars and modified vehicles.

Drop Collision on an Old Car

Collision makes sense for newer vehicles, but costs often outweigh benefits on older cars. Eliminate this coverage once your car becomes a beater to reduce premiums.

Seek Out Low Down Payment Policies

Some insurers offer policies with little to no upfront payment to ease budget constraints for teens. This avoids large initial outlays but increases installment fees.

Live Somewhere Safe

Urban areas with high accident rates and crime get hit with sky-high insurance rates. Moving to a safer suburb or rural area can significantly reduce premiums.

Pick a Higher Deductible

Deductibles of $750, $1,000 or $2,500 put more liability on you but deliver bigger premium reductions. Make sure you have savings to cover the higher out-of-pocket costs.

Stick Near Home

Commuting long distances to school or activities increases mileage and accident risk. Try to keep mileage low by working and doing activities closer to home.

Shop Based on Vehicle Use

Occasional-use policies can offer substantial savings for teens who rarely drive. But read the fine print carefully around usage limits and restrictions.

Join a Carpool

Sharing rides with other students helps cut individual mileage. Less driving means lower premium costs and risk exposure.

Let Your Parents Broker the Policy

Insurers know teens lack negotiating skill. Having an experienced parent handle the policy discussions often results in cheaper rates.

Maintain Vehicle Safety

Keep tires inflated, get all scheduled maintenance done promptly, and resolve any warning light issues right away. This minimizes risk of accidents or breakdowns.

Ask About Payment Plans

If premium costs are unaffordable upfront for teens, ask about installment plans that spread payments out across several smaller bills. But watch out for fees.

Consider Aftermarket Safety Devices

Adding anti-theft devices, backup cameras, brake assist tools, or emergency assistance technology may qualify you for insurance discounts.

Opt for OEM Parts to Save Long-Term

Using original manufacturer replacement parts retains more vehicle value after repairs. This reduces future premiums and out-of-pocket costs over the long run.

Increase Your Deductible Over Time

Deductibles of just $500 or $1,000 may be manageable initially. But as you gain assets and savings, incrementally increase the deductible to reduce premiums.

Bundle Multiple Policies

Placing home or umbrella coverage with the same insurer provides multi-policy discounts. Just be sure to compare bundled rates against separate policies.

Avoid Modifications

Custom parts, aftermarket wheels, tinted windows, and lifted suspensions hurt safety and value. Keep cars factory stock to maximize insurer discounts.

Pick a Bigger, Heavier Car

Large sedans and SUVs offer more protection in accidents. Heavy vehicles also tend to have lower loss ratios, earning lower class risk factors from insurers.

Ask About Early Signing Discounts

Some companies provide discounts for completing the application process and locking in a policy well in advance of the coverage start date.

Lobby for One-Time Accident Forgiveness

Pleading your case with an insurer after a minor accident can occasionally result in premium hikes being waived. But don’t count on leniency.

Choose OEM Glass Replacement

Factory glass maximizes safety in an accident. Aftermarket windshields may distort visibility. Using OEM glass also helps retain the highest value at resale.

Talk to Independent Agents Too

Local independent insurance agents have the ability to shop multiple carriers for the best rates. They can be great


Why is insurance expensive for 18-year-olds?

Why Is Car Insurance So Expensive for 18-Year-Olds? Car insurance rates are more expensive for teenage drivers because they have less driving experience and get into more car accidents. Even an 18-year-old with a clean driving record will likely pay much more for auto insurance than drivers in their 30s or 40s.

How much is car insurance for a 18-year-old in Tennessee?

Cheapest Tennessee Car Insurance for 18-Year-Olds For those who are eligible, USAA tends to offer the cheapest coverage for 18-year-old drivers in Tennessee at an average estimate of $2,488 per year, or $207 per month. The average estimate for 18-year-old Tennessee drivers is $5,414 per year, or $451 per month.

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