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Why is auto insurance for California teens so expensive?

Things to remember...
  • Teens in California pay $574.27 per month or $6,891.21 annually for auto insurance.
  • Car accidents are one of the leading causes of teen deaths in the United States.
  • Good student and safe driver discounts can help you save on teenage auto insurance.

If you’re a teen driver in California or a parent of a younger driver, you’re probably wondering: why is car insurance for teens in California so expensive? Follow our comprehensive guide to learn how insurance premiums for teens are calculated, and what you can do to get lower California car insurance rates.

By the time you’re done, you’ll know how to buy auto insurance for a new driver better than the professionals.

Looking to buy California teen auto insurance? Secure affordable California teen auto insurance rates by entering your ZIP code into our free tool above.

How much is car insurance for a teenager in California?

So, how much does teenage car insurance cost in the Golden State?

In California, the teenage auto insurance average cost is $574.27 per month or $6,891.21 annually. The California auto insurance state average is closer to $82.25 per month or $987 annually.

California teen auto insurance prices are almost seven times higher than average. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that teen auto insurance rates are so high because vehicle fatalities are one of the leading causes of teen deaths.

Fortunately, we can show you how teens can save money on auto insurance and be safer drivers. Keep reading.

Why is car insurance for a teen in California so expensive?

To understand why insurance is so expensive for teenage drivers, we have to know how auto insurance companies calculate rates. The cost of auto insurance is based on risk. If you’re more likely to get into an accident or file a claim, you’ll receive higher insurance rates.

California car insurance companies assess risk by looking at your individual demographics, which includes your age and driving record, plus details about the city you live in.

Age directly correlates with how much driving experience you have. Younger drivers have less experience, which puts them at higher risk for accidents.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, teen drivers are involved in more fatal accidents than any other age group, despite making up the lowest percentage of licensed drivers. See what we mean in the table below.

Age GroupPercent of Licensed DriversPercent of Involvement in Fatal Accidents
16 to 20-years old5.30%35.60%
21 to 24-years old6.40%34.90%
25 to 34-years old17.70%27.30%
35 to 44-years old16.50%22.20%
45 to 54-years old17.40%20.70%
55 to 64-years old17.40%18.60%
65 to 74-years old12.10%15%
Over 74-years old7.20%19.20%

Teenagers are not the only high-risk age group. Drivers up through age twenty-five are involved in a high ratio of fatal accidents. Therefore, anyone younger receives higher than average auto insurance rates to mitigate the risk you impose on insurance companies.

If your wondering do male teens pay more for auto insurance than females, the answer is yes. Take a look at the table below, which compares male versus female fatal accidents in the state of California.

GenderTotal FatalitiesFatalities as a Percent

Men are involved in far more fatal car crashes than women in the state, making them much higher-risk. However, as of 2019, it is illegal for insurance companies in California to use gender when determining rates. Over time, those amounts should start to equalize.

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What determines car insurance rates for teens?

Every auto insurance company calculates rates in slightly different ways. Each will provide you with slightly different quotes depending on your individual demographics.

To secure cheap teen auto insurance, you’ll want to use a company that doesn’t drastically increase rates by age.

How much is car insurance for a 17-year-old female? What are GEICO’s teenage driver insurance costs?

Take a look at how much teenage auto insurance costs by different insurance companies in California in the table below.

Car Insurance CompanyAverage Rates for a
Married 60-Year-Old Female
Average Rates for a
Married 60-Year-Old Male
Average Rates for a
Married 35-Year-Old Female
Average Rates for a
Married 35-Year-Old Male
Average Rates for a
Single 25-Year-Old Female
Average Rates for a
Single 25-Year-Old Male
Average Rates for a
Single 17-Year-Old Female
Average Rates for a
Single 17-Year-Old Male
United Financial Casualty$1,518.62$1,802.64$1,785.37$1,837.82$2,576.92$2,771.33$4,767.78$5,748.65
AMCO Insurance$2,863.68$2,699.52$3,272.83$3,124.42$3,904.76$3,858.43$8,318.27$9,186.72
State Farm$2,957.44$2,957.44$3,310.18$3,310.18$3,663.92$3,777.69$6,089.50$7,555.39

Right away, we see that Farmers, AMCO, and Allstate are not going to provide California teens with competitive rates. USAA offers the lowest premiums, but they are military insurance. Only active or retired military personnel and their families are able to use their services.

United Financial Casualty insurance and Safeco are worth looking into. Even though it lands in the middle of the list, Geico teenage driver insurance costs should not be ignored.

Your driving record also plays a big role in determining how much auto insurance is for a teenager per month.

Check out the following table to see how much a single driving violation can increase your average rates in the state of California.

Driving ViolationAverage Annual Rates
Clean record$2,579.26
With 1 accident$3,721.56
With 1 DUI$5,184.72
With 1 speeding violation$3,272.95

Just one speeding violation can cost you upwards of six-hundred dollars annually. Insurance companies are especially tough on teen drivers if they commit a traffic violation. Not only do you risk losing your license, but some companies may refuse to insure you.

What is the cheapest way to get car insurance for a teen in California?

We already covered why insurance is so expensive for teenage drivers. Now let’s talk about lowering those rates and securing cheap auto insurance.

To get lower than average costs of teen auto insurance, take advantage of discounts. Teen auto insurance discounts include good student discounts, which lowers your rates because of your good grades.

Remember, one reason why male teens pay more on average for insurance is because of their higher likelihood of causing an accident. Plus the National Highway Traffic Associaton reports that one in three teenagers have engaged in texting while driving.

Prove insurance companies that you’re not one of these statistics by taking a safe driver course and qualifying for safe driver discounts. You will prove to insurance companies that you’re responsible, which leads to lower rates.

Officer Correia discusses more safety tips for teen drivers in California in the following video from KPIX CBS News.

Attend a local class and be aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Not only will it lower your auto insurance rates, but it also saves lives.

Can going on a parent’s policy save teens money on insurance in California?

One of the cheapest ways to get auto insurance for a teenager is by adding them to a pre-existing family policy as a named driver. How much it will cost to add a 16-year-old to your car insurance policy will vary, as often your rates reflect the highest-risk driver covered.

California car insurance policies will cost a few thousand more on average if you choose this route. It will still be cheaper than how much auto insurance would cost a 16-year-old per month on their own.

Should teens shop around for better car insurance rates in California?

Comparison shopping for auto insurance is the best way to secure cheaper rates. How can teens easily compare auto insurance rates in California? Using online quote comparison resources is a great place to start.

Comparison shopping allows you to find out how much it will cost to add a teenager to auto insurance using USAA, Geico, Allstate, and more.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Car Insurance For Teens in California

Next time someone asks why is auto insurance for teens so expensive in California, you’ll be ready with answers. Refer back to this guide as much as needed while you compare teen auto insurance rates. Meanwhile, check out our frequently asked questions below.

#1 – Who has the best rates for teen drivers in California?

USAA and United Financial Casualty offer the lowest average rates for teen drivers in Calfornia.

#2 – Who has the worst rates for teen drivers in California?

Farmers and AMCO insurance provide the highest average rates for teen drivers in California.

#3 – Do I have to add my teenager to my car insurance?

Yes, anyone who will be driving your vehicle regularly should be added as a named driver.

#4 – What is the cheapest insurance state for teen drivers?

Maine is one of the cheapest insurance states for most age brackets.

#5 – What is the most expensive insurance state for teen drivers?

Louisiana is often the most expensive auto insurance state for all demographics.

#6 – Is it better to shop online or with an independent agent?

Either may work for you. An independent agent or broker can help you secure cheap rates from many companies. However, shopping online is faster and gives you more control.

#7 – How do rates in California compare to the rest of the country?

California’s rates for teen auto insurance are relatively average compared to other states.

Compare cheap California teen auto insurance quotes by entering your ZIP code into our free tool below.

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