Like airlines and rental car companies, car insurance companies are prone to changing the cost and terms of their services without warning. This is understandable: Car insurance policies are subject to dozens of disparate factors that combine to create a unique profile for each covered driver. In the eyes of American auto insurers, very few drivers are identical. Even those drivers who are virtually indistinguishable may be asked to pay different rates on their car insurance policies based on small or esoteric differences in their "driver profiles." For instance, two demographically-identical drivers might pay different rates on the same policy thanks to one driver's long relationship with the policy's issuer. As a new customer, the second driver might not qualify for a "loyalty discount" or another similar promotion.
Regardless of where he or she secures his or her auto insurance policy, a 17-year-old driver must be prepared to pay above-average monthly premiums. This is due to several interrelated factors. First, 17-year-old drivers tend to be reckless and impulsive. Teenage drivers are involved in serious car accidents with far greater frequency than their older counterparts. Once a driver turns 25, his or her chances of being involved in such an accident begin to drop precipitously.
For drivers who remain in high school, the accident rate is frighteningly high. Although the ongoing imposition of graduated-licensing programs appears to be cutting down on the incidence of dangerous late-night and impairment-related crashes among teenage drivers, the rate is still far too high. Mounting scientific evidence suggests that teenage drivers are simply "hard-wired" for recklessness.
In addition to their propensity for recklessness, teenage drivers are clearly less experienced than their older counterparts. Situations that would not prove particularly challenging for "regular" drivers might provide injurious or even fatal for teenage drivers. For instance, 17-year-olds may be unfamiliar with winter-driving protocols or fail to adhere to local restrictions against right turns at red lights.
With these restrictions in mind, 17-year-old drivers who wish to purchase insurance may be able to cut down on their monthly premiums in several ways. For starters, most insurance companies offer "safe driver" discounts for individuals who remain accident-free for multiple years. Teenagers who avoid accidents can take advantage of these discounts. In addition, "good student" discounts might save academically-inclined teens as much as 25 percent per month. Finally, teenagers who remain listed on their parents' policies without purchasing their own coverages might stand to save as much as $100 per month.