Keep Your Teens Safe and Your Car Insurance Rates Down

Category: Personal Insurance

According to the Insurance Information Institute, having a teen driver in your household can cause your automobile insurance rates to jump significantly—from 50% to even 100%.

Auto accidents are the leading cause of death among Americans aged 15 – 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It is vital that we teach our teens the importance of safe driving habits, and that staying focused and avoiding distractions can literally save their lives.

Consider the following safe driving tips for teens:

• Do not talk on the phone while driving. Using a cell phone while driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving, even if you are using a hands-free phone. What’s more, many states outlaw talking on the phone while driving, so it is not worth the risk of getting a ticket, or worse.

• Do not text and drive. Texting causes you to lose focus on the road for at least five seconds, and that is plenty of time for something to go wrong. Again, many states ban texting while driving, so be sure to obey the law.

• Always turn on your headlights. This helps you see better, as well as helps others see you.

• Obey the posted speed limit. Speeding causes about 40% of all fatal teen car accidents. Do not feel pressured to go faster just to keep up with the traffic around you. Keep in mind that speeding tickets can result in steep auto insurance rate hikes.

• Stay focused on the road and minimize distractions. Refrain from eating, drinking and playing with the radio. Lack of focus can cause an inexperienced driver to lose control of the vehicle.

• Don’t drive with friends. Having teen passengers in the car with you greatly escalates the risk of getting in an accident.

• Practice defensive driving. Always be aware of the traffic ahead of you, behind you, and next to you. At slower speeds, stay one car length behind the car in front of you. Keep the distance between you and other cars even farther when you are driving at faster speeds.

• Drive a safe car. If possible, drive a car with the latest safety equipment (antilock brakes, electronic stability control, airbags).

Insurers charge higher rates for teens than for any other group. Fortunately, most insurance companies offer a variety of discounts that reward teens and parents for safe driving. These and other proactive measures can help you lower your insurance costs when you have a teen driver in your household.

• Take advantage of driver monitoring devices. New technology is making it easier to keep track of our teens’ driving habits. Several insurance companies offer electronic devices that help monitor a teen driver. These devices typically measure the number of miles the car has been driven, how fast it has gone, the number of hours on the road and even how often the brakes are applied hard. Drivers who meet certain safe driving benchmarks are then rewarded with discounted insurance premiums. Some companies even provide a discount just for agreeing to use the monitor, and then extend the discounts if the safe driving goals are achieved.

If your insurance company does not offer electronic monitors or safe driving discounts, consider a safe-driving app that will help you monitor your teen and promote safe driving habits. One new app, Drive Safe Mode, was specifically designed to keep teen drivers off the phone and focused on the road.

• Have your teen drive an older vehicle. Often driving an older car can help you save some money on your insurance premiums. However, you should also consider the cost savings that come with the added safety features of newer vehicles.

• Remove a college student who is away from home from your policy. Many insurers offer discounts for temporarily removing a college student who is away at school from your car insurance.

• Enroll your teen in a safe driving course. Insurance companies often provide these types of programs designed for young, inexperienced drivers. Taking the course makes you eligible for a car insurance premium discount.

• Encourage your student to get good grades. Good grades are important for many reasons, and they can also help you save on your car insurance rates. Good student discounts are common. To be eligible, the student usually must be a full time student and receive a “B” average or higher in all of his or her school subjects.

Do you have a teen driver in your household? Have you discussed with your teen the importance of safe driving, and in particular the dangers of texting and driving? Talk with your agent today to see if you are eligible for any teen driver discounts.

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