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(Bitter) Sweet 16: Car Insurance for Teenagers

My 16-year-old daughter, Maddi, and I have been spending a lot of time driving after she received her learner’s permit three months ago. I figured this was probably a good time to meet with my Erie Insurance Agent to discuss the inevitable rising insurance rates once I add her to my policy. I also hoped this would motivate her to get those summer job applications submitted since she’ll be chipping in for the car insurance. (As an aside, since when did teens become so picky about where they work?)

Meeting with the insurance agent

We met with Erie Insurance Agent Bob Murray of Murray Insurance. As a standard practice in the agency, they try to meet with all their new young drivers to reinforce safety messages and have a “Young Driver Talk.” As preachy as that may sound, it wasn’t at all. Think about it: Does your young son or daughter listen to you? I mean really listen to you. Or do you just get the head nod and eye roll after sentence number three about why you can’t text when you drive?

That was the great thing about this short visit: Bob was the “expert,” and he talked about things in a way that made her really listen. And not only that, but he pulled out newspaper clippings from some local accidents – some very severe – and discussed their implications.

“If I can prevent just one accident from happening by having these talks, then it’s worth it,” Bob said.

While we were there, he handed out a flyer with some information about young drivers that touched on driving factors such as time of day, seat belts, weather, speeding, distractions and number of passengers.

The number of passengers a teen driver adds to the vehicle increases the chance of a fatality. I work for an insurance company, so I know a lot of the risk factors identified for teen drivers; however, I was shocked at how Maddi answered the questions and how it was even higher than what I thought. Bob had her fill out a worksheet which asked what percentage of fatalities occurs when you add one young passenger to a vehicle driven by a 16- or 17-year-old. She wrote 5 percent. Nope, it was 44 percent.*

When asked about adding two young passengers to the vehicle, Maddi answered 10 percent. In reality, it was 88 percent! And adding three or more passengers? Brace yourself…it was a whopping 176 percent higher. YIKES!

And that’s the point. Most kids don’t know the facts, or more commonly, don’t ever think it’ll happen to them. Educating kids is key. When you mix inexperience with driver attitude, distractions and/or the extra passengers, it can be a deadly disaster.

The reason behind the rate

Bob gave a rough estimate of how much my insurance will increase once she gets her license. I wasn’t surprised at all because I know that the number of accidents for young drivers is three times higher* than drivers age 20 and older. So it stands to reason that car insurance for teenagers typically costs more than it does for more seasoned drivers.

It was good that Maddi could hear the rates and the reasoning. It was also a great opportunity for my daughter to hear that a good driving record can go a long way toward possibly saving you money down the road.

As she drove us home, I thought again about how scary it is out there on the road for new drivers. As a mom, letting my daughter out for the first few times alone in the car is probably one of the most terrifying things I’ll ever have to do. I can only hope that some of those words of wisdom resonate with her and that she makes good driving decisions. 

*Statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

ERIEĀ® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.

The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are in effect as of July 2022 and may be changed at any time. 

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