Teen drivers have always been saddled with a bad reputation when it comes to driving, and this is often cited as the reason behind high teen driver car insurance rates. But could this be changing?

According to the US-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) website:

  • From 1975 to 2012, the rate of teenage drivers involved in fatal crashes per 100,000 people declined by 65 per cent from 47.6 to 16.8
  • Between 1996 and 2012, police-reported crashes per 100,000 people fell 65 per cent for 16 year-olds, 50 per cent for 17 year-olds, 43 per cent for 18 year-olds, and 35 per cent for 19 year-olds.

On their own, these numbers make it seem like teen drivers are becoming better drivers. However, the IIHS points out that based on police-reported crashes of all severities, the crash rate for 16-19 year-old drivers is still about three times the rate for drivers 20 plus.

Canada's teen drivers

Although there is no easy apples-to-apples comparison, Canadian driving statistics (from Tranport Canada's annual publication, Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics) appear to echo the findings in the US: Teen drivers are less likely to be involved in a serious collision compared to a decade ago, but are still over represented when it comes to teen driver deaths and injuries.

  • In 2003, teen drivers accounted for 5.1 per cent of all licensed drivers in Canada yet accounted for 10 per cent of collision fatalities and 10.9 per cent of serious injuries
  • In 2011 (the most recent available year), teen drivers accounted for 4.9 per cent of all licensed drivers in Canada yet accounted for 9 per cent of collision fatalities and 9.4 per cent of serious injuries

If better teen drivers isn't the answer, then why the decline in crash-related deaths and collisions?

Graduated Licensing. Various reports credit graduated licensing for the decline in teen driver crashes.

All provinces and territories in Canada (with the exception of Nunavut) have some form of graduated licensing, although each province's rules, restrictions and stages will vary. Typically, novice drivers are limited to when, where and with whom they can drive. However, as you move through each stage, you are subject to fewer restrictions.

  • Did you know, Ontario was the first jurisdiction in North America to introduce Graduated Licensing, followed by Nova Scotia back in 1994?

Teen driver car insurance

Regardless of the headway achieved with graduated licensing programs, teen driver collisions are disproportionately high compared to other drivers. This is part of the reason why, when a teen gets their licence for the first time and is looking for auto insurance coverage, they (or their parents) are often taken aback. After all, insurance is meant to cover the worst case scenario, which unfortunately is more likely to happen when there is a teen involved. As a result, insurance companies will generally charge more when there is a teen driver on a policy.

There are, however, ways to save money.

As a teen driver, or parent of a teenage driver, there are ways to ensure you are getting the best teen car insurance rate.

Complete an approved driver-training course

New drivers can receive significant discounts off their insurance, typically for the first three years they are licensed, if they have driver training. It's a good thing to consider, since your insurance savings are usually greater than the cost of the course.

Start off as an occasional driver

Usually, teens start off by being listed as an occasional driver on their parent's vehicle to get those ever-valuable years of experience. As you get a few years under your belt, the cost of your insurance coverage should decrease if your driving record is accident and ticket-free.

Drive carefully

Obvious, but true (and worth repeating.) Your driving record is based on the number of years you've been licensed to drive and your number of convictions or at-fault accidents. If you keep your driving record blemish-free, your premium will be lower than if you've had a conviction or accident. In a nutshell, the better your driving record, the lower your insurance rates.

Shop around for your coverage

Too many people pay too much for their auto insurance coverage for one simple reason; they do not shop around. Sure, you should get a quote from the insurer your family currently deals with, but don't stop there because there may be other insurance companies that are "teen-friendly" and will offer a better rate.

Don't pay more than you have to-shop around for a car insurance policy that affordably offers coverage to teen drivers.

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