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Your 18-year-old driver may be considered an adult, but the cost of car insurance can still be shockingly high because teenage drivers are prone to more accidents and claims than older drivers. We analyzed rates and gathered tips on how to find cheap car insurance for 18-year-olds.
How Much Is Car Insurance for an 18-Year-Old?
It costs an average of $2,103 a year to add an 18-year-old to a car insurance policy, according to Forbes Advisor’s analysis. That’s $175 more per month.
You can’t avoid a hefty rate increase for adding a teen driver to a parent’s policy, but it’s not as expensive as an 18-year-old buying their own policy. The average car insurance cost for an 18-year-old on their own policy is $6,147 a year. That’s $512 per month.
And be sure to look at the total auto insurance bill for the whole family: The average cost of a parent’s auto insurance policy with an 18-year-old driver included is $5,065 per year. To get the best car insurance you don’t want to sacrifice coverage, especially because teen drivers tend to crash or have other claims.
What Is the Cheapest Car Insurance for 18-Year-Old Drivers?
USAA is the cheapest car insurance company for adding an 18-year-old to a car insurance policy, among the companies we evaluated.
If you don’t qualify for coverage through USAA with a military affiliation, try Erie or Geico, the next cheapest companies. Erie’s cost to add a driver age 18 is $634 a year less than the average, and Geico’s is $564 less.
Cheapest car insurance companies for adding 18-year-old drivers
Here are the costs for adding an 18-year-old to an existing parent car insurance policy.
Cheapest car insurance for parents plus an 18-year-old driver
For a policy for both parents and an 18-year-old, USAA, Erie and Geico are the cheapest options among the companies we analyzed
Cheap car insurance for 18-year-olds on their own policy
It’s much pricier for an 18-year-old to purchase their own auto insurance policy than to be added to a parent’s policy. The average car insurance cost for an 18-year-old with their own policy ($6,147 a year) is around $4,000 more per year than the cost to add the teen to a parent’s policy ($2,103).
USAA, Auto-Owners and Geico are likely good options for putting an 18-year-old on their own auto insurance.
What Factors Influence the Cost for 18-Year-Old Drivers?
Here are the primary factors that influence car insurance costs for an 18-year-old.
Adding a teen to a parent’s auto insurance policy raises your rates because insurance companies view inexperienced drivers as a high risk. You can’t avoid a sizable increase, but you can compare car insurance quotes to minimize the financial impact.
Auto insurance companies make rate calculations based on claims they’ve paid. Because teenage males file more claims than female teens, insurance for males costs more. Of course, if you make a claim, no matter your gender, you’ll also likely see a price increase at your next renewal.
Factors associated with location that often affect car insurance pricing include:
The frequency of auto accidents.
The frequency of claims associated with auto theft and vandalism.
The cost of car repairs, including parts and labor.
The cost of medical care impacts how much insurers must pay for injury claims.
Weather and disaster claims such as floods and hail.
Type of car
If you include collision and comprehensive insurance on your policy, your car insurance will pay for claims related to car theft, trees falling on your car, damage to your vehicle from crashes, hitting a fence or pole, and more. If your car is more expensive to repair or replace than other vehicles, the extra cost will be reflected in your rates for collision and comprehensive coverage.
What Discounts Are Available for 18-year-olds?
You may not find many car insurance discounts for 18-year-olds because they have a reputation as risky drivers. But it’s worth asking your insurance agent to see what discounts your teen driver may be eligible for to reduce their costs.
Good student discount
A “good student discount” is great to grab if your 18-year-old driver qualifies. You may have to ask for it, or your car insurance company won’t know to add it for your teen.
Good student discounts have an average of 4% savings, according to Forbes Advisor’s analysis of 14 large auto insurance companies.
The eligibility rules for this discount can vary a bit by the insurer, but typically the student needs to be within a certain age range, going to high school or college full-time, and receiving good grades.
Generally, “good student” can mean any of these:
In the upper 20% of their class.
Grade average of B for better.
Average of 3.0 or better.
On the Dean’s List, Honor Roll or comparable listing.
In the upper 20% of a national standardized test within the past 12 months, such as the SAT or ACT.
Student away from home discount
If your 18-year-old is heading off to college away from home or is already there, you may be able to snag a discount. “Student away from home discounts” have an average savings of 8%, according to our analysis.
To qualify for a student away discount, your 18-year-old must meet certain requirements, which can vary by car insurance company. Basic qualifications for the discount typically include:
Student attends and resides at a school more than 100 miles from home; and
The car stays at your home while the student is away at school; and
Only drives the car when home during school holiday periods and vacations.
Discount for a driver training class
This discount tends to be less common but beneficial if your auto insurance company offers it; not all do. Your 18-year-old must complete an approved driver training program to earn a training discount when it’s available. Make sure the course you’re looking at is approved for the discount before you count on it.
Can an 18-Year-Old Get Their Own Policy?
Yes, an 18-year-old can buy their own policy if they have a vehicle registered in their name. But car insurance costs for teen drivers on their own policies are incredibly pricey. You can usually reduce costs significantly by having the 18-year-old driver on a parent’s policy instead.
How to Get the Cheapest Insurance Policy at 18
Here are some tips for getting the cheapest car insurance for an 18-year-old.
Get multiple quotes
When adding an 18-year-old to your car insurance policy, the auto insurer that was cheap for parents before may no longer have affordable rates. It’s wise to compare car insurance quotes when adding a driver to see what company offers the best deals for your new situation.
Explore discount opportunities
Concentrate on good student discounts and price breaks for completing a driver’s education class. But also ask your auto insurance agent what other discounts may be available for families with an 18-year-old driver.
You may be considering reducing some coverages in order to save money. But it’s not time to skimp on auto insurance coverage when you have an 18-year-old driver. Teenage drivers are more likely to be involved in auto accidents, so your chances of needing good insurance coverage and limits to cover claims are higher.
Increase your deductibles
You choose a car insurance deductible if you buy collision and comprehensive insurance. You can normally reduce rates by having a higher deductible—such as $1,000 instead of $500.
To make sure it’s worth picking a higher deductible, ask your car insurance agent to give you quotes for various deductible levels. Decide which option is best, remembering that an 18-year-old driver is likelier than older adult drivers to smash into something.
Drive an affordable car
Collision and comprehensive insurance are less expensive if your vehicle is cheaper to repair or replace. You desire a solid, safe vehicle for a teen driver, but avoid luxury cars, and especially stay away from a sports car if you want to keep your car insurance rates affordable.
Average Car Insurance Cost by State for 18-Year-Olds
Average Car Insurance Cost by Gender for 18-Year-Old drivers
Male 18-year-old drivers pay 29% more for auto insurance than their female counterparts when added to a parent’s policy, according to our analysis. Teen male drivers are the source of more claims, so they pay higher rates.
Average car insurance cost by gender to add driver age 18 to parent’s policy
Average car insurance cost by gender for 18-year-old drivers on own policy
Best Car Insurance Companies 2023
With so many choices for car insurance companies, it can be hard to know where to start to find the right car insurance. We've evaluated insurers to find the best car insurance companies, so you don't have to.
We used data from Quadrant Information Services, a provider of insurance data and analytics. Rates are based on parents and an 18-year-old driver with clean driving records insuring a Toyota RAV4. Policy limits are $100,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person, $300,000 per accident and $100,000 in property damage liability (known as 100/300/100), uninsured motorist coverage and collision and comprehensive with a $500 deductible.
Cheap Car Insurance for 18-Year-Olds FAQs
Why is car insurance so expensive for 18-year-olds?
Car insurance is expensive for 18-year-olds because teenage drivers are more prone to be in accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety finds that the number of auto accidents and fatal collisions is disproportionately high for teenage drivers. The fatal crash rate per miles driven is nearly three times for drivers ages 16 to 19 compared to drivers ages 20 and older.
Accidents result in car insurance claims, and drivers more likely to file claims pay more for car insurance. To find cheap car insurance for 18-year-olds, comparison shop with multiple companies.
Can you add an 18-year-old to an existing policy?
Yes, you can add an 18-year-old to an existing car insurance policy, and it’s probably a more affordable way to insure your teen. Adding an 18-year-old driver to a parent policy usually is much cheaper than the teen buying their own policy.
Our analysis found that it’s around $4,000 more expensive for an 18-year-old to purchase their own policy than to be added to an existing parent policy. Comparing car insurance quotes from multiple companies is the most effective way to find the best cheap car insurance for teens.
At what age will car insurance rates start to go down?
Car insurance rates gradually decline each year as teens get older, and by age 21, the cost of adding a teen to a parent policy is nearly half the cost of an 18-year-old. Parents pay an average of $2,103 per year for adding an 18-year-old and only $1,110 for adding a 21-year-old.
Car insurance rates are also significantly lower at age 21 than at 18 for those buying their own policy. Drivers aged 21 pay $4,689, which is 44% less than what drivers aged 18 pay ($6,147). Remember that keeping a safe driving record is essential to getting the lowest rates. Car insurance costs after an accident or ticket will go up, reflecting the higher risk you pose—but due to your driving behavior, not your age.
Will safe driving influence the cost of car insurance for an 18-year-old driver?
Yes, safe driving can influence the cost of car insurance for an 18-year-old, and in a good way. Being a safe driver signals that you’re a low risk, which usually results in lower car insurance rates. And some companies offer safe driving discounts for young drivers. For instance, the Steer Clear State Farm car insurance discount provides a price break if you’re under age 25, have a clean driving record for the past three years and meet other criteria.