Young drivers smiling
5 tried tips and tricks for young drivers to benefit from cheap car insurance rates. Image: Flickr.

Nothing makes a parent shudder more than when their child’s in control of tons of metal—well, that is until they hear how much their auto insurance is going to increase due to adding young drivers. Although prices of everything continue to rise, at least some ways to save money are timeless. Here are some of the classic ways parents have been getting cheap car insurance for young drivers for decades.

1. Increase Course Loads — Require Accident Prevention Courses

All new drivers have to take driver’s education, but unless something has changed since I took drivers ed a little under 15 years ago, there’s really not a ton of TRUE driver’s education. Parallel parking under the guidance of the P.E. teacher and driving through cones in parking lots for a couple months isn’t exactly what I consider substantial driving education.

Typically offered through states’ department of transportation, accident prevention courses, also called defensive driving courses, can save an average 10% on premiums. There’s no limit on the amount of times one can be taken, although you can only get the discount once every so many years, usually expiring after three years with most insurers. Have your child take the

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Most states and insurers only give the discounts IF drivers take them voluntarily–if drivers are ordered to take them by courts, they won’t count for insurance discounts.

They’re not a bad idea for any driver—take it with them and then you can continue getting a discount after your children aren’t on your policy. States have different options–Virginia, for example, requires drivers under age of 20 to take classroom courses even though online driver courses are offered too.

Additionally, young drivers may appreciate it more if they have to pay for the courses, which cost around $75. If you require they take it any time they have accidents or get tickets, they’ll also likely do what it takes to avoid them –which are often day long classes on Saturdays—incentive alone for young drivers.

2. Make Driving And/Or Vehicle Access Part Of A Reward And Punishment System

I hate to admit it–I’m a die-hard fan of Pretty Little Liars, a show about four teenage girls living very adult lives. I accepted it when one of them started dating her English teacher without anyone batting an eye, and accepted that one of them drives a brand new Mercedes. But I’m always astonished whenever the girls grab their car keys after arguments with a parent, say ‘I’m outta here,’ and slam the front door before taking off in that new Mercedes.

One way to encourage safe driving, for the sake of safety and lower insurance premiums, is to not act like a T.V. parent–establish that having a car and being on your insurance policy are privileges and that YOU run the show.

If youthful drivers are convicted of moving violations or insurance claims, causing rates to skyrocket, advise your child you’ll revoke their driving rights and have them turn in their license until they pay for increased insurance costs. Most states allow parents to pull drivers’ licenses for children under age 18. If this happens when they’re college students, tell them their car has to stay home and that when they can pay their premiums, you’ll consider letting them take their car to campus. They’ll be very likely to drive safer, as Nationwide Insurance reports that rates usually increase 30% when a young driver has an accident.

3. Buy College Students Bikes And Suspend Coverage During The School Year

No, not motorcycles—good, old fashioned bicycles with bells and whistles.

Not only do rates increase because of young drivers, rates increase based on where cars are garaged at night. If a student goes to college where auto insurance is expensive anyways, like New York, whose insurance premiums are the 6th highest in the country at an average of $2,334 annually according to NASDAQ, you’re facing even higher premiums, about $400 extra a MONTH on average.

Many insurers allow you to suspend coverage during the academic year if children go to college 100 miles or more away. As for holidays and summertime, different insurers have different rules about when you’ll have to resume payments depending on how long the child will be home and how often they’ll drive the car. Regardless, getting roughly eight months of savings is significant, especially since adding younger drivers can increase premiums 50 to 100%.

It’s normal for college students to ride bikes or walk everywhere anyways. There’s public transportation in larger cities and even at ‘remote’ colleges, there’s still probably not a need to bring cars to campus. Consider Sweet Briar College, my alma mater, which is like its own little world in rural Virginia with its own zip code and post office. Shuttles regularly take students into the city for shopping or to the airport, and SBC certainly defines ‘self-sufficient college‘– about anything one could need is within short walking distance.

4. If Possible, List Them As The Driver Of The Cheapest Vehicle To Insure

Depending on your insurance company and state, some insurers list vehicles and drivers, rating the entire package. Other insurers require a driver be assigned to each vehicle and rate according to who drives which car. This can have a HUGE impact on rates, so pay attention to driver assignment.

If your insurer assigns drivers, there are two things you can do. You can look for insurance companies that don’t rate policies this way. Or, ensure your child drives a vehicle cheap to insure in general and one that, when driven by young drivers, doesn’t scream ’a 17 year old is driving a red sports car—here comes speeding tickets and crashes!’

For the second option, get an older vehicle only requiring liability. Your child may hate you momentarily for not giving

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them a ‘cool’ car or getting a new Mercedes like Hannah on Pretty Little Liars, but if you put strategy #2 in effect, they’ll love any car.

Depending on insurer, state, and if your child has a newer car or one that’s generally expensive to insure, you’ll likely be better off with an insurer who doesn’t assign drivers. Get insurance quotes for both scenarios to compare. Usually you can change these options anytime, and getting through even the first couple years with the least expensive option can tide you over until your children have more experience resulting in cheaper rates or until they get their own policies.

5. Valedictorian = Scholarships AND Lower Auto Insurance Premiums

Statistics don’t lie. Good students tend to be more responsible and careful drivers. While it’s not guaranteed, the correlation is clear. About half of insurers offer a good student discount, so you may have to get a few insurance quotes to find one that offers it. Research conducted by Coverhound found the average good student discount is 9.6% until age 24, as long as students maintain a 3.0 to 3.3 GPA depending on insurer, and are full-time. If you have a son, this may be especially important to pursue—Coverhound’s research discovered young men around 20 saved about 14.8% with a good student

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discount, versus 20 year old females, who saved 10% on average. This is most likely attributed to the fact that men have a worse track record of being careless drivers, and since good students have a history of being more careful drivers, this is likely why they’re being especially rewarded.

Whether a college or high school student, if GPA drops, or if students drop to part-time, establish repercussions. Consider refusing to pay their premiums or taking away their driving privileges and/or car.

There isn’t much else you can do to reduce premiums when there are young drivers on an insurance policy– you’ll just have to grit your teeth the first couple of years because inevitably, rates will increase. You definitely shouldn’t reduce liability limits though–this is a dangerous mistake to make when an inexperienced driver is behind the wheel. That would only put your assets in jeopardy—and perhaps eat up any savings you have to pay for your child’s education.