Adding a teen driver to your insurance policy can increase your premium by as much as 200 percent. This makes sense, considering that insurance premiums are risk-based and drivers under age 24 account for only 14 percent of the population but are accountable for about 30 percent of all motor vehicle injury costs, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Insuring a teen driver can be expensive, but encouraging safe driving habits can help to reduce the financial burden later as the teen gains more driving experience.
Because teenagers are new to being behind the wheel, they do not have the experience to recognize dangers and make decisions that are common practice for older, more experienced drivers. Insurance companies realize the potential risk due to the lack of driving experience and compensate for risk through higher premiums.
Some states have graduated license programs for teens. This type of system allows teens to receive a restricted license and gradually increase privileges as road experience hours increase.
In addition to their inexperience on the road, teenagers experience hormonal changes that affect the way they process information and react to situations. Teenagers' brains are not fully developed, which makes them more likely than adults to engage in impulsive or reckless behavior. Insurance companies often view this immaturity as a risk.
Some insurers offer good-student discounts based on a teen's grade point average, which is considered to be an indication of responsibility, just as insurers use credit scores to gauge responsibility in adults.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 31 percent of teen drivers killed in car accidents had consumed alcohol. Although the impact of drinking and driving reaches far beyond teens, insurance companies recognize the possibility that teens are statistically likely to be involved in a drinking and driving collision.
Teen drivers, especially boys, are more likely than adult drivers to exceed posted speed limits. Teenagers also are less likely to wear seat belts than other age groups, according to the CDC. This disregard for rules is both unsafe and irresponsible in the eyes of insurers.
Teens can receive a break on insurance rates from most companies by completing a driver's education class that reviews safety, laws and defensive driving techniques.
According to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, 81 percent of teen vehicle accident deaths in 2008 were vehicle passengers. Teenagers are often proud of their new right to drive and enjoy driving with friends. Unfortunately, multiple teens in a vehicle can cause distractions for the inexperienced teen driver. Insurance companies increase teen policy rates due to the liability costs of passenger injury.
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