My step-son turns 16 years old today. He is very excited because soon enough he will be getting his drivers license. And our auto insurance rates will be taking an increase once he is added to our policy. He is shown here the day he got his temps.
There is a sticker-shock for most parents when teenage drivers are added to insurance- especially when they are adding their oldest “young driver” to the policy. We totally know what that feels like- Nathan will be our fourth to get his license and currently- we have 3 drivers under the age of 20.
Young drivers cost more to insure because to put it bluntly- they are more risky. They are more likely to get into an accident and when they do get into an accident- it is much more likely to be fatal or have severe bodily injury. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers ages 15 – 20.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), here are some startling statistics on teenage driving:
- 16-year olds have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age
- 1 in 4 of 16-year old drivers has an accident within their first year of driving
- Seat belt use is lowest among teen drivers. In 2016, 58% of passengers that died in car crashes by teen drivers were not using a seat belt.
- In 2016, almost 20% of the teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were alcohol related.
- In 2016, speeding was a factor in 32% of fatal crashes of teen drivers.
- Teens dialing a phone number increases the risk of a crash by 6 times and texting increases the risk by 23 times.
- Statistics show that 16 and 17-year old driver death rates increase with each additional passenger.
It might make sense that young drivers have more accidents because they simply don’t have as many hours behind the wheel as the average, middle-aged driver- but there is also a lot of research around the fact that the brain does not fully develop until the age 25 or so. This means that a person’s decision making capabilities combined with the lack of experience becomes a deadly combination.
Teenage males are more expensive than teenage females to insure. Why? Males tend to do more reckless driving activities (i.e. doing doughnuts in the school parking lot, drag racing their friends down the highway) than females. As age progresses the price difference between males and females shrinks.
Young drivers also tend to have the distractions of friends in the car, loud music, texting while driving, and more! So now when you combine this with the lack of experience and impulse control- it is no wonder why insurance rates for teenagers can be high!
As a parent, it is important to know that your teenager is modeling your behavior. If you are a frequent speeder, text while driving, eat while driving, follow to closely to cars in front of you, cut across parking lots, and don’t pay attention to your surroundings, then your teenage driver will likely follow your lead.
It is critical to set boundaries for the new driver. Set time limits, have consequences for traffic tickets and texting while driving. Many cell phone providers have safety features that shut the cell phone off while the driver is in motion. There are also apps that send you a text if your teen driver (or passenger) is travelling at a high rate of speed or out of a geographic area that you set.
Talk to your child about the cost of insurance and how getting a ticket will affect the cost of insurance. We were helping out a customer recently who wanted to show his daughters how much their share of the insurance was and I was able to show him that his wife’s speeding ticket that was for going 12 over almost 3 years ago will have cost them almost $1500 over the past 3 years once it came off their record the next renewal period (in addition to the cost of the actual ticket). Now THAT is a good lesson for young drivers who are often told that “everyone gets one ticket” or “we won’t make you pay for the first one.”
Parenting does not get easier as your kids grow older. I heard someone say once, “small children, small worries; big children, big worries!” and that completely resonates with us now. There are new things to worry about when your child enters high school and starts to drive. It is critically important to get your teenage driver on the right path by setting a good example yourself and by talking about risk factors that may result in an accident or fatality.
P.S. This is an excellent time to increase your liability limits too! Almost as scary as your child killing him or herself in an accident- is the thought of your child killing or disabling someone else in a car accident. If you have teenage drivers and you don’t already have an umbrella policy- we strongly recommend looking into one. Check out this article about how having a teenager can bankrupt you.
P.P.S. Did you know that when you purchase life insurance, they look at your motor vehicle record? Prior to getting your license, you have a spotless one! This is just another reason why purchasing life insurance on your child is a great opportunity to make sure that they are able to get a policy before they become unhealthy, do something dangerous (like start jumping out of planes), rack up a dozen speeding tickets, or have some other reason that would increase their rate or make them hard to insure. Check out this article about reasons why purchasing life insurance on your child is a great idea.