Car Insurance for New Drivers

New drivers usually pay more for car insurance than those with experience, but there are ways to get cheaper rates.

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New drivers are usually young people getting behind the wheel for the first time. But insurance companies consider anyone without a recent driving record or insurance policy to be just as risky, no matter their age.

Here’s what to know, whether you just got your license or are back from a driving hiatus.

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Who needs new-driver car insurance?

Although there’s no special kind of insurance called "new-driver car insurance," insurers generally categorize new drivers as:

  • Teenagers who just got a driver’s license.

  • Adults who are driving for the first time.

  • Immigrants and foreign nationals.

  • Drivers of any age with a gap in driving or insurance coverage.

Insurance rates for new drivers are usually higher than those for more experienced drivers.

Teenagers

Auto insurance companies charge higher rates for teenage drivers because they’re more likely than any other age group to be in an accident. The best way to get cheap car insurance for a teen driver is for the teen driver to be added to their parent’s or guardian’s policy (as long as they share the same permanent address).

Beware that "cheap" is relative — adding a teen to a married couple’s policy may increase the couple's rate too. However, a teen going it alone is likely to be much more expensive since they'll miss out on potential savings, like a discount for having multiple drivers insured under one policy. You can compare multiple new-driver insurance quotes online to be sure.

Some good news: Insurance companies offer plenty of discounts for students and young drivers, and rates will get better over time with safe driving. Insurance rates typically get cheaper around age 25, provided the driver has a few years of experience under their belt.

Immigrants and foreign nationals

Even if you have a long history of safe driving in another country, insurance companies consider you a new driver if you have no U.S. driving history. They access only domestic driving records when setting rates, so your driving history in the U.S. is all that counts. This also goes for your credit history, which is used to calculate auto insurance rates in many states. (California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan don’t allow insurers to use credit when determining car insurance rates.)

Without a valid U.S. driver’s license, you may have a hard time getting an insurance policy, even if you have an international driver’s permit. If you’re renting a car, the easiest option may be to use the rental car company’s coverage.

If you plan on staying and driving in the U.S., you’ll need a driver’s license in the state where you live. Some states, like California, will issue a driver’s license regardless of immigration status. Once you have your license, get at least three auto insurance quotes so you can choose the best rate and coverage.

People with a driving or coverage gap

Your license could be expired because you spent some time abroad, or your lifestyle doesn’t require any driving. If you don't have a driving history to check, insurers can consider you a new driver. And without continuous auto coverage, they can consider you a high-risk driver, which can increase rates.

Even if you have some driving history, if you’ve had a gap in coverage at all, you’ll likely pay more for insurance, so it’s important to shop around for the best rates. Some companies make an exception for military deployment, so check with your insurer to see if that applies to you.

Since continuous coverage is one of the most important factors insurers consider, some may not accept your application if you’ve had gaps between policies. If that’s the case, you can look for high-risk insurance companies that specialize in coverage for people having a hard time getting insured.

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See what you could save on car insurance

Easily compare personalized rates to see how much switching car insurance could save you.

Pricing factors in a car insurance quote

New drivers have some of the highest car insurance rates, but age isn't the only thing insurance companies consider when setting rates. Factors that affect car insurance quotes include:

  • Personal characteristics. This includes your age, gender and marital status.

  • The coverage you choose. The more coverage you have, the higher your insurance rates are likely to be.

  • Your vehicle. Your car’s make and model, safety features and likelihood that it’ll be stolen all affect your rate.

  • Your location. Every state has its own minimum car insurance requirements; factors like your neighborhood’s crime rate and population density will also affect your insurance price.

  • Your credit score. Drivers with poor credit typically have higher car insurance rates in states where pricing based on credit is allowed. California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan don’t allow insurers to use credit when determining car insurance rates.

How to save as a new driver

While new drivers will typically pay more for coverage than those with more experience on the road, there are still ways to save on a policy.

Shop around. Rates can differ tremendously depending on the insurer you use. To make sure you find the best possible price, compare quotes from at least three insurance companies. And continue to shop around each year — just because you had the cheapest rate a year ago doesn’t mean you still do.

Stay on a family auto insurance policy. If you have the same permanent address as your parents or guardians, compare rates for a stand-alone policy and then compare that to what it would cost to stay on your family’s insurance. It might cost less to stay on your family’s policy.

Look for discounts. Many auto insurers offer discounts that new drivers can take advantage of, including:

  • Good student discount.

  • Discount for young drivers who take a defensive driving course.

  • Student away-from-home discount (if you are on your parents' policy).

  • Multipolicy discount if you have renters or homeowners insurance.

  • Military or occupation discount.

  • Safety equipment discount.

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