Meridian Studios, Getty Images It’s no great secret that across the nation, insurance premiums are on the rise. Over the past five years, the cost of insuring a home against fire and other casualty has crept up about 10 percent a year — every year. Health insurance increases, while they’ve been muted of late, still rose 4 percent this year.
But if you think those hikes are steep, get a load of this next one.
Congratulations! You’re a Father! (Now Open Your Wallet)
Kids are expensive. If you’re a parent, you know this already. If you’re a parent of a kid who hasn’t turned 16 just yet, you’re on track to get another lesson in how expensive they can be. Because once your offspring passes the driver’s test and receive a license to drive from the state, he’s going to need to be insured — and that will cost you an extra $2,000 a year, on average.
(By the way, if your kid is getting her driver’s license, your wallet won’t take quite as big a hit, girls being 25 percent less expensive to insure than boys on average. But it’ll still be some serious coin.)
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driving is a risky activity for teens. The are more prone to get into accidents — about four times as likely as older, more experienced drivers, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And traffic accidents are the leading causes of death for Americans ages 16 to 19.
Between lives lost and property destroyed, this all makes insurance companies very wary of insuring teen drivers. And when they do agree to insure a teen, they make you pay through the nose.
According to a recent report posted on Bankrate.com’s (RATE) InsuranceQuotes.com, across both genders, all age categories, and all 50 states, parents pay an average 84 percent more for their car insurance after adding a teen to their policy.
Stay Between the (State) Lines
Think that’s bad? It might get worse.
Unless you’re fortunate enough to live in a state like North Carolina or Hawaii, where legislators have passed laws that ban setting insurance rates based on factors such as age or gender, your rates may rise by more than the average 84 percent.
How much more? Take a look at the top 10 states hiking rates on teenage drivers by 100 percent and higher:
That’s right. Put a teenage driver on your policy in any one of these states, and you can expect to see your insurance cost for the whole family more than double.
The news is even worse for parents in Louisiana. Although its teen drivers bring “only” the ninth highest rate hikes with them when they join a policy, Louisiana car insurance in general is already the most expensive in the land — averaging $2,699 annually for a single male driver, according to Insure.com. Add a kid to that policy, and you’ll be shelling out upwards of $5,400 a year.
What’s to Be Done?
Is there any way to beat the system, and avoid these hikes? Not entirely, no.
Sure, you could move to Hawaii, where insurance rates rise least. Then again, Hawaii also has the honor of hosting the nation’s most expensive housing market — so you’ll end up seriously out of pocket, one way or the other. On the other hand, North Carolinian insurance rates don’t rise so much when you put a teen on your policy. That market might be worth a look, if you’re willing to move to save money.
Patience Is a Virtue… That Pays
One solution suggests itself from InsuranceQuotes.com’s offhand observation that certain teens cost more to insure than others.
In particular, if you put a kid on your policy as soon as he hits 16, well, new 16-year-old drivers tend to double an insurance bill no matter where they live, averaging 99 percent rate hikes.
But premiums tend to rise less when teens wait a bit before trying to drive. 17-year-olds joining their parents’ policies average a 90 percent increase. 18-year-olds cost 82 percent more. By the time Junior is age 19 and ready for college, the rate hike is “only” 65 percent.
Meanwhile, the standard caveats still apply: No one’s forcing you to accept “average” rate hikes, so now that you know the “average” scenario, shop around to see if someone will offer you a better deal. Ask if taking (and passing) a safe driver course might reduce your teen’s rate. And of course, since we’re talking student-age kids here, make sure to inquire about discounts for good students. Whether or not it makes sense, insurance companies — like grandparents — often favor kids who bring home A’s.
Motley Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.