First-Time Driver’s Guide to Car Insurance

First-time drivers tend to pay more for car insurance due to their lack of driving experience, but understanding coverages and what affects premiums can help you find affordable rates.

Miranda Marquit
Miranda Marquit Insurance Writer
  • Co-hosts the Money Talks News podcast

  • MBA from Utah State University

Miranda is a financial writer and avid podcaster with nearly two decades of experience contributing to major outlets, including Forbes, The Hill, and NPR.

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Courtney Mikulski
Courtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
  • 3+ years producing insurance and personal finance content

  • Main architect of the Insurify Quality Score

Courtney’s deep personal finance knowledge extends beyond insurance to credit cards, consumer lending, and banking. She thrives on creating actionable content.

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Updated June 20, 2024

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Getting your driver’s license and becoming a first-time driver can be an exciting experience. However, one of the most important things a new driver can do is get car insurance. If you’re a new driver older than 18 years old, you may be able to get insurance with your own policy. But younger drivers might need to get car insurance through their parents.

Auto insurance is a requirement in most states, so you need to make sure that you at least have state-minimum liability coverage.[1] Unfortunately, young and new drivers often pay higher premiums for their car insurance policies. This is because insurance companies often don’t know what kind of risk a young driver will be. Additionally, inexperienced drivers are more likely to get in an accident.[2]

Here’s what you need to know about getting car insurance quotes as a teenager or a new driver.

Quick Facts
  • As young drivers gain more experience behind the wheel and drive more safely, their car insurance rates start decreasing.

  • Most states require a minimum of property damage liability and bodily injury liability insurance.

  • The average cost of car insurance for first-time drivers is $210 to $626 a month.

Cheapest recent rates

Drivers using Insurify have found quotes as cheap as $36/mo for liability only and $40/mo for full coverage.

*Quotes generated for Insurify users within the last 10 days. Last updated on June 20, 2024

Rates shown are real-time Insurify user quotes from 100+ insurance companies and Quadrant Information Services data. Insurify’s algorithm excludes anomalous quotes and anonymizes personal details, then displays refined quotes by price, date, and insurer popularity up to 10 days ago from June 20, 2024. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer’s unique driver profile.

*Quotes generated for Insurify users within the last 10 days. Last updated on June 20, 2024

Rates shown are real-time Insurify user quotes from 100+ insurance companies and Quadrant Information Services data. Insurify’s algorithm excludes anomalous quotes and anonymizes personal details, then displays refined quotes by price, date, and insurer popularity up to 10 days ago from June 20, 2024. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer’s unique driver profile.

How to get car insurance for the first time

First-time drivers need car insurance coverage as soon as they start driving, even if they don’t own a car.

Young adults at least 18 years old and college students might be able to get their own coverage. However, younger drivers might need to be on their parents’ insurance. Even for college students, the easiest way to get better auto insurance rates is to see if your parents will add you to their insurance while you’re still in school.

Here are the steps to take as you shop around for insurance products as a new driver.

1. Gather your information

The first step is to get your information. If you (or your parents) have an existing policy, have that information available. It’s also important to think about the types of auto insurance policy coverage you want to add to your state-minimum coverage.

Other information you might need to gather as you get a car insurance quote includes:

  • Personal information for identification, like your birth date, Social Security number, address, phone number, and email

  • Type of car you drive, including the vehicle identification number (VIN)

  • Where you live

  • Bank account information

Having this information handy might help you get a quote for your first auto insurance policy a little faster.

Important Information

Even if you don’t own a car, you should still get car insurance. If you frequently borrow other people’s cars, you can get non-owner car insurance coverage to protect yourself against damages and injuries you cause.

2. Shop around and compare quotes

Next, you can start shopping around for competitive rates. You can call different companies or go to their websites to get quotes online. Another option is to go to a website that helps you compare quotes. For example, on comparison websites like Insurify, you need to enter your information only one time and can get free, real-time auto insurance quotes from several companies at once.

A good starting point might be your (or your parents’) existing policy to get an idea of what company you should buy a policy with. However, don’t assume that the current coverage is the best rate, especially when adding a new person to the policy. Adding a new driver can change the car insurance cost significantly, so getting new quotes to find the lowest rates or the best deal makes a lot of sense.

3. Look for available discounts

Next, review potential discounts. Teens and college students might get a lower rate for being good students. Young people might also see discounts for attending a specific school or being involved with a particular organization.

Other discounts might be available, such as a bundling discount if your parents buy homeowners insurance with the same company as their auto insurer. If you’re renting as a college student, you might get a lower rate by combining your coverage with renters insurance.

Some of these discounts include a good driver discount, a good credit history, using the insurer’s telematics app, choosing quarterly or semi-annual payments instead of monthly payments, having vehicle safety and anti-theft features, and driving a lower-value car. A little research can help you compare the best car insurance companies to see which offer different discounts.

Guide to Car Insurance Discounts (2024)

Guide to Car Insurance Discounts (2024)

4. Choose the right coverage and deductible for you

Next, be realistic about what the right coverage might be for you. First, you’ll need to check your state’s minimum insurance requirements. Once you have the minimum liability coverage to cover property damage and medical expenses for others, you can consider raising policy limits or adding more coverages.

Keep in mind you might not need full-coverage car insurance on an older, used car. Instead, you may be able to keep just liability insurance with higher policy limits and add medical payments (MedPay) coverage to pay for any injuries you incur in an accident.

Also look at your deductible. The deductible is how much money you pay out of pocket before the insurance kicks in. Typically, the higher your deductible, the lower your insurance premium. But you need to be able to afford the deductible if you ever file a claim. It’s important to strike a balance between keeping your insurance rates low and affording the out-of-pocket deductible.

5. Purchase insurance

Once you’ve compared your options and figured out which quote is likely to work best for you, it’s time to purchase your policy. An insurance agent can help you complete the process, or you can fill out your application and make the purchase online. After approval, the insurer provides your policy information on the declaration page.

It’s a good idea to shop for insurance every six months to a year to ensure you’re still getting the lowest price for your insurance needs.

6. Monitor your policy

Continue to monitor your policy to make sure it meets your needs. You might need to add additional coverage, change deductibles, combine policies with other insurance products, or update your information if you move to a new ZIP code or get a new car.

Pay attention to your driving record, as incidents like speeding tickets and at-fault car accidents can affect your car insurance rates.

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Types of car insurance coverage for first-time drivers

If you’re a first-time car owner looking at car insurance rates, it’s important to understand the types of coverage insurers offer. Here are the types of coverage you’re likely to see from different insurers.

Liability insurance

Most states require some form of liability insurance. This type of auto insurance usually includes property damage liability and bodily injury liability coverage. When you cause an accident, this coverage kicks in to cover the damages and injuries you cause to others, up to the policy limits. It doesn’t cover the cost of your own injuries or vehicle damages, however.[3]

Collision and comprehensive insurance

Collision and comprehensive insurance, usually part of a full-coverage policy, provide coverage for damages to your vehicle, regardless of fault.

Here’s what these auto insurance policy types cover:[3]

  • Collision coverage: This insurance covers you if you run into another car or hit another object, even if you’re at fault.

  • Comprehensive coverage: When you have comprehensive coverage, you’re getting help to pay for repairs that aren’t related to running into another car or object. Instead, you might need help paying for damage from vandalism or a natural disaster. It also covers theft.

Personal injury protection (PIP) and medical payments coverage

PIP and medical payments coverages are very similar. Medical payments coverage acts as a supplement to your current health insurance coverage — if you or your passengers sustain injuries in an accident, MedPay helps cover the medical expenses. It also provides coverage for funeral costs after a fatal accident.

On the other hand, personal injury protection covers everything MedPay does, plus non-medical expenses from injuries, like child care costs and lost wages related to recovering from injuries, up to the policy limits.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

While you might have a car insurance policy, someone else might not. When you have uninsured/underinsured motorist protection, your insurance company will help pay for your repairs and medical costs when someone without insurance causes an accident. If they don’t have insurance — or their policy limits are too low to cover all your damages and injuries — your insurance company picks up the difference, up to the policy limits.[3]

The cost of first-time car insurance

The average cost of car insurance for a first-time driver varies among different companies. Whether an insurance company is a good deal for you depends on what type of coverage you want and the quoted prices you get.

The table below shows the average monthly quotes from top insurance companies for first-time drivers.

Insurance CompanyAverage Monthly Quote
Auto-Owners$210
USAA$244
GEICO$287
State Farm$288
Travelers$295
Nationwide$308
Allstate$371
American Family$456
Progressive$500
Liberty Mutual$565
Farmers$626
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.

How insurers calculate car insurance premiums for first-time drivers

As you look for lower prices as a first-time driver, it’s important to understand what factors insurers are likely to consider as they determine your exact price.[2]

Age

In general, younger drivers are likely to pay higher rates than older drivers. If you’re younger than 25, you might see a higher insurance premium. As you get older and become a more experienced driver, you’re likely to see a decrease in rates. Senior drivers might start to see increases in cost as age-related issues affect their driving abilities.[4]

Gender

Your gender matters with insurance rates. Men are more likely to be in car accidents, and their car accidents tend to be more severe. Because of these differences in risk, female drivers are generally more likely to have lower rates than male drivers. However, women have a higher risk of fatal car accidents, but these differences in fatal rates are decreasing as car safety technology improves.[5]

Driving history

If you have speeding tickets and car accidents, you’re usually a higher risk to insurance companies, and you might pay a higher price as a result. A good driving record can keep your costs lower. However, a young driver might not have had time to build a good record, so the best way to keep a clean record is to try to drive carefully and avoid tickets and accidents when possible.

Location

When getting quotes from insurers, one question they ask is where you live. If you live in a ZIP code with more thefts, accidents, and break-ins, you’re likely to see a higher rate. Also, the distance you drive each year, whether it’s to get to school or work, can affect your annual car insurance rates.

Vehicle type

Electric vehicles, expensive cars, later models, and other vehicle-related factors also influence your car insurance rates. Pay attention to the type of car you have and how it might affect your insurance quotes.

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Discounts for first-time car insurance buyers

You might be able to reduce your cost with the help of discounts. Ask your insurance agent for additional information about potential discounts. Here are some common discounts insurance companies offer:

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/100x100/6629dc84bb/remote-work-desk.svg

    Good student

    This might be one of the most common discounts for young drivers. If you’re in high school or college, you might get a lower rate for having good grades.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/9f249b61b8/bundling.svg

    Bundling

    This is when you have other insurance or financial products with the same company. You might get a better deal with more business at the company.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/8368425876/safety-features.svg

    Safety and anti-theft features

    If you have airbags, vehicle tracking, and other features that can make your car safer, you might get a discount.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/38dc81ba93/drive-1.svg

    Telematics app participation

    Some companies give you a discount if you download a mobile app that tracks your habits and rewards safe driving.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/100x100/8fc5f44bef/drivers-license.svg

    Affiliation

    In some cases, the school you attend, the organizations you belong to, and similar affiliations might lead to a discount.

First-time car insurance FAQs

Learn more about how age and gender affect rates, and read Insurify’s answers to common questions about first-time car insurance below.

  • Why is first-time insurance so expensive?

    One reason it’s so expensive to get insurance as a new driver is due to the lack of experience and driving record. As you get older, become a safe driver, improve your credit history, and take steps to show responsibility, you’re more likely to see cheaper rates.

  • Should you buy insurance or a car first?

    In general, it might make sense to establish car ownership first, as the type of car you get will influence your insurance rates. And if you buy a car at a dealership, you generally won’t be able to drive off the lot without insurance. If you’re using someone else’s car, they’ll likely add you to their insurance policy.

  • What factors should you consider when choosing your first car insurance policy?

    Think about how much car insurance coverage you need, as well as what deductible you can afford. Don’t forget to consider an insurance company’s customer service reputation, whether it offers the coverage you need, and any discounts you might be eligible for.

  • How can you lower your premiums as a first-time car insurance buyer?

    Initially, some ways to get lower premiums might be to choose a higher deductible or get less coverage. You can also ask for discounts and see if you can get a lower price by using a telematics app that monitors your driving behavior.

  • Can you get car insurance without a driving history or a good credit score?

    Yes, you can usually get coverage without a driving history or a good credit score. Most states prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage based on a lack of credit history.[6] You might want to consider working with a company that specializes in first-time driver insurance.

Sources

  1. III. "How much auto coverage do I need?."
  2. III. "What determines the price of an auto insurance policy?."
  3. III. "Auto insurance basics—understanding your coverage."
  4. III. "Senior driving safety and insurance tips."
  5. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "Fatality Facts 2021: Males and females."
  6. Federal Trade Commission. "Credit-Based Insurance Scores: Impacts on Consumers of Automobile Insurance."
Miranda Marquit
Miranda Marquit Insurance Writer

Miranda Marquit, MBA, is a freelance financial writer covering various markets and topics since 2006. She has contributed to numerous media outlets, including Forbes, TIME, The Hill, NPR, HuffPost, Yahoo! Money, and more. Her work has been syndicated by MSN Money, Marketwatch, Credit.com, and other publications. She has written about insurance topics for Clearsurance, HealthCare.com, and various other websites. She is also an avid podcaster and co-hosts the Money Talks News podcast. Miranda has a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Syracuse University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Courtney Mikulski
Edited byCourtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
Courtney Mikulski
Courtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
  • 3+ years producing insurance and personal finance content

  • Main architect of the Insurify Quality Score

Courtney’s deep personal finance knowledge extends beyond insurance to credit cards, consumer lending, and banking. She thrives on creating actionable content.

Featured in

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