Car insurance for teens, by definition, isn’t cheap. Little driving experience and a statistically higher chance of accidents makes teens a big risk to insurers, so they invariably get charged more for coverage. Because of this, the best cheap car insurance providers for teens are the ones that not only offer quality coverage and claims handling, but also special discounts to students and younger drivers to help take the sting out of those otherwise high monthly premiums.
To find the best policy for you or your teen, you’ll need to shop around for quotes to find the best possible deal on the coverage options you want.
I looked at every nationally available insurer in the country to find those that consistently offer the most affordable rates and discounts to teen drivers, as well as exemplary coverage and customer service. GEICO came out on top, with high customer satisfaction rankings, low premiums, and the largest selection of teen-specific discounts.
State Farm provides the best claims handling overall, but offered fewer discounts and higher premiums. Nationwide and Progressive also received high customer satisfaction ratings and offered a wide range of discounts to teens, so may very well be able to offer you the best deal, too. The only way to find the best deal for you or your teen is to request multiple quotes and compare your options.
The Simple Dollar’s Top Picks for Best Cheap Car Insurance for Teens
Each of these top picks have strong financial ratings and are known for offering consistently affordable rates. They provide quality coverage, 24/7 claims service, accident forgiveness, and special discounts to students and younger drivers to help take the sting out of those high premiums.
Best Overall: GEICO
Best Customer Service: State Farm
Honorable Mentions: Nationwide and Progressive
How I Found the Best Cheap Car Insurance for Teens
It needed to be available nationwide.
I focused on companies that provide auto insurance in all 50 states. That meant a number of regional and exclusive providers, like USAA, didn’t make the cut. However, if you’re dissatisfied with our top picks, you may want to consider other options like these. You very well could find a better deal.
The providers had to be reliable.
I axed any company with less than an A- rating from A.M. Best. I also required a similar rating from S&P, Fitch, or Moody’s. These companies measure the financial strength of insurers and how likely they are to be able to pay out your claims. You don’t see a lot of startups in the insurance industry because long-term stability is so important. If your insurer goes under, you lose your safety net, along with all the money you paid for it.
There had to be adequate coverage options.
Insurers are required by law to offer state-mandated coverages, as well as collision and comprehensive protection for your vehicle. Some also offer optional coverages that can come in handy after an accident. Teens are statistically more likely to be in a crash, so things like accident forgiveness and GAP coverage are worth considering. There’s also mechanical breakdown coverage, which is useful if your teen drives an older vehicle that may need repairs down the road.
Steep discounts were a must.
Many insurers also offer discounts to younger drivers, designed to offset their high premium rates. These include good student, safe driver, and student away at school discounts. Taking a driver’s ed or defensive driving course can also earn you savings with most car insurance companies. You may also have the option to let the insurer monitor your driving for a period of time. If it verifies that you’re a safe driver, you could be eligible for further discounts. Though less common, some companies also offer a vanishing deductible, which will help ease the strain on your wallet if you need to file a claim.
Customer service had to be top-notch, too.
Customer service is often overlooked, but it can do a lot to ease (or contribute to) the headache of filing a claim. That’s why I also evaluated the top companies based on the ease of filing a claim and their scores in J.D. Power’s latest auto insurance customer satisfaction survey.
The Best Cheap Car Insurance for Teens of 2017
Best Overall: GEICO
GEICO is known for offering low rates to all drivers and its list of discounts is hard to match. There are plenty for younger drivers to take advantage of, including good student, driver’s education and seatbelt use discounts. If your vehicle has airbags, anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights, or an anti-theft device, you can also save. GEICO is the only company on this list that doesn’t offer a monitored driving discount to its customers.
In terms of coverage, GEICO covers all the basics and also offers accident forgiveness and mechanical breakdown coverage. Accident forgiveness is an optional coverage offered by all our top picks that prevents your rates from going up following your first at-fault accident.
Mechanical breakdown coverage is much rarer and pays for any repairs your vehicle needs as a result of normal wear and tear. GEICO is the only company on this list to offer this coverage, so if you’re interested in that service, it’s worth getting a quote.
What really helped GEICO clinch the top spot, though, was its Family Pricing Program. This program allows teen drivers who were previously on their parents’ insurance to get their own policy at a special rate. This usually ends up being more affordable than the rate a teen would get shopping for a brand-new policy. If you have a teen driver who will be transitioning to their own policy in a few years, this is something you may want to take advantage of.
Best Customer Service: State Farm
State Farm rates typically aren’t quite as low as the other companies on this list, but its reputation for excellent customer service earned it a place among the top picks. It scored above the regional average in seven out of 11 regions in J.D. Power’s auto insurance survey, with customers reporting a high degree of satisfaction with claims handling and their interactions with company representatives.
State Farm’s selection of discounts is comparable to GEICO’s, with good student, driver training and student away at school discounts. It also has an accident-free discount that kicks in after three years of accident-free driving, which is two years less than what most insurers require for this kind of discount. You can also save if your vehicle is equipped with an anti-theft device or passive restraint system. State Farm’s Steer Clear programenables drivers under 25 to save up to 15% on their premiums by completing a safe driving course online, at your local State Farm office, or through the company’s mobile app.
If your teen doesn’t drive often, consider enrolling in the Drive Safe & Save program. This monitors how often you drive and offers discounts for low mileage. You get a 5% discount automatically for signing up, and depending on how far the car is driven each policy term, you could cut your premiums in half.
Nationwide was a contender for the top pick, but fell short because GEICO had higher customer satisfaction ratings and better discounts for young drivers. Nationwide has a good student discount, but is missing other common options like driver training and student away at school discounts. There is an accident-free discount, but it doesn’t kick in until you have five years of safe driving under your belt. You can get credit for your safe driving by enrolling in the SmartRide program, where you install a small device in your car that monitors how many miles you drive, when you drive, and how fast you brake and accelerate. At the end of the program, Nationwide will look at the data and may offer you a discount for driving safely.
If you are currently insured through Nationwide you may be able to help your teen secure a more affordable rate with the Family plan. This plan enables all members