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How Much Does Adding a Teen Driver Increase Your Auto Insurance?

Traffic converges on highway I-495 South just west of the nation's capital on Nov. 23, 2011 in McLean, Virginia. Getty Images

It’s normal for parents to start worrying when their teens get old enough to drive –- but wondering whether they’ll be safe is only one reason to fret. Adding a teen to the family car insurance policy can nearly double what parents already are paying, according to a new study.

While increases vary widely by state, across the country the average premium will rise about 80 percent, according to a new study by insuranceQuotes.com. In five states, the average bill can more than double.

“It’s really expensive to insure a teen driver, said Laura Adams, senior analyst, the website’s senior analyst. The good news, she added, is that there are ways to get discounts if, for example, your teen is a good student.

The penalty for teen drivers should come as no surprise, experts say, considering young drivers also tend to be the riskiest group on the road.

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In all, nearly 3,000 people were killed in crashes involving teens in 2013, according to a study released last month by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, with nearly 400,000 injured. The new study found that nearly two-thirds of the people injured or killed during a crash are people other than the teen behind the wheel.

“Teen crash rates are higher than any other age group, and this data confirms that the impact of their crashes extend well beyond the teen who is behind the wheel,” said Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Insurance companies contend they are simply passing on their higher costs by assessing hefty premiums for teen drivers. On average, adding a driver between the ages of 16 and 19 will cause a married couple’s insurance rates to rise 80 percent. But the precise figure varies significantly, depending upon age, sex and location:

  • The younger the driver, the higher the penalty. For the average 16-year-old it’s 96 percent, according to insuranceQuotes.com, while that slips to 60 percent for a 19-year-old;
  • On average, females will see insurance rates jump 67 percent, while the hike is 92 percent for a teen male;
  • In New Hampshire, adding a teen will lead to an average 115 percent premium hike –- one of five states where the penalty more than doubles a typical family’s insurance bill.

Hawaii, on the other hand, does not allow age or length of driving experience factor into an insurance company’s premium policy, so the increase averages only 17 percent. Excluding Hawaii, the states with the lowest increases are New York, Michigan and North Carolina, at 53, 57 and 60 percent respectively.

Meanwhile, five states -- Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina and Pennsylvania – don’t allow insurance companies to factor in gender when determining rates.

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The good news for parents is that there are a number of ways to cut the teen insurance penalty.

“Good student discounts can take some of the sting out of these bills,” said Adams. “I’ve seen discounts as high as 25 percent for students who maintain at least a B average in high school or college. Students and their parents need to proactively request this discount.”

Some insurance companies may also provide a discount for young drivers who use devices that monitor their behavior behind the wheel, such as the Progressive Snapshot system.

Experts also stress that parents should check to see which vehicles will suffer the lowest potential premium increase. Vehicles with relatively modest power and good safety equipment are likely to be more affordable -– from an insurance perspective –- than a muscle car like a Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro.