Your age is more than just a number when it comes to getting car insurance.
To insurers, your age is an indicator of how risky it is to insure you – essentially, how likely you are to file costly claims. The riskier you’re perceived to be, the more the insurance company will charge you for coverage.
In this article, we’ll explain how age impacts car insurance and explore car insurance rates by age.
How age affects car insurance rates
When you seek out quotes for coverage, auto insurance companies will often ask you for your age or date of birth. This is because most companies use age to determine auto insurance rates.
Age group classification
Insurance companies typically categorize drivers into age groups. It may not matter much to your insurance company if you’re 33 vs. 34, but the difference between being 23 vs. 43 will matter because that places you in a different age group.
Typical car insurance age brackets are:
Teens/young adults (ages 16-24)
Experienced drivers (ages 25-39)
Middle-aged drivers (ages 40-64)
Senior drivers (ages 65+)
Your insurance rates can still vary among others in your same age bracket. Age is far from the only component auto insurers consider when setting rates. However, you’re more likely to see a difference in your car insurance costs as you enter into different age brackets. Insurance companies associate each age bracket with a particular degree of risk.
Statistical risk assessment
With age comes experience and maturity, and that’s often reflected in a person’s driving abilities. Research shows teen drivers are more likely to get into car accidents than more experienced drivers. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death for teens 16 to 19, according to AAA.
In addition, elderly drivers have a greater chance of having physical limitations (such as vision loss or cognitive decline) that can negatively impact their driving skills compared to their middle-aged counterparts.
Insurance companies consider statistical data regarding age and the likelihood of filing insurance claims when setting car insurance rates, charging higher rates to drivers who are more likely to get into accidents to offset the potential financial loss. Conversely, drivers seen as less risky are generally rewarded with lower auto insurance premiums.
Driving record and claims history
Age tends to have a significant influence on your driving record, another key rating factor.
When you’re young and don’t have much experience on the road, an insurance company can’t rely on years of past driving history as evidence of whether you’re a bad or good driver.
With several years of driving experience under your belt, you get the chance to sharpen your driving skills. You can successfully manage driving on congested highways or in inclement weather. You may qualify for car insurance discounts for being a safe driver and having a record free from any accidents, tickets or insurance claims.
If you were involved in car accidents in the past, it’ll take a few years for those incidents to clear from your driving history. After that time has passed, you may qualify for lower insurance premiums, which is another reason some older drivers end up with better insurance rates.
Car insurance age brackets
Drivers in the following age brackets often share similar characteristics, including their auto insurance risk factors.
Young drivers (16-24)
If you’ve noticed that news reports of car accidents often seem to involve young drivers, it’s not a coincidence. Drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 tend to be less experienced on the road and have higher accident rates. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that teen drivers are four times more likely to get into a car crash than drivers 20 and older.
As a result, car insurance companies view young drivers as the most risky to insure. Drivers ages 16 to 24 tend to face the highest premiums compared to other age groups.
However, young drivers who live with their parents can offset some of their high insurance costs by being added onto their parents’ policy rather than getting insurance on their own – provided their parents have a good driving history. In addition, teens and young adults in school may be able to qualify for good-student discounts to lower the cost of their insurance premiums.
Experienced drivers (25-39)
After age 25, auto insurance rates tend to go down as experienced drivers are seen to be more responsible on the road and less likely to cause car accidents or file claims. Experienced drivers who can point to a solid driving history will typically be eligible for lower premiums.
Car insurance rates start to stabilize at this point in life. Drivers in this age bracket can enjoy rather consistent auto insurance rates provided there isn’t much change in other factors such as location, credit score or marital status.
Middle-aged drivers (40-64)
Middle-aged drivers tend to enjoy the lowest car insurance rates. These drivers have had more time improving their driving skills, and likely more time has elapsed since incurring dings on their driving records in their youth.
Drivers in this age range also may be more likely to benefit from insurance discounts if they own a home, are married, have good credit or drive safer vehicles.
If you’re in this age group, it’s important to note that you could see a spike in your insurance rates if you have a teenage driver or elderly parent living with you. Some insurance companies require all eligible drivers in a household to be listed under your policy, since there’s a chance your teen or elderly parent could wind up getting the keys to your vehicle.
Senior drivers (65+)
While senior drivers – ages 65 and up – aren’t as risky to insure as, say, a 17-year-old, they generally face higher average rates than younger drivers in their 30s, 40s, or 50s.
As drivers enter into older age, they have a greater potential of experiencing health conditions – such as impaired vision or hearing, slower response times and cognitive decline – that may negatively impact their driving abilities. Certain medications taken by senior drivers can impair driving, and seniors have a greater chance of suffering more severe bodily injury in an accident.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, drivers 70 and older have higher automobile fatalities than middle-aged drivers.
If you’re a senior driver, you can offset policy increases if you’re retired and no longer drive as much. Without a daily commute to work, you can maintain a low annual mileage on your vehicle, which is seen favorably by insurers.
Senior drivers may also be eligible for insurance discounts, such as Nationwide’s defensive driving discount for older drivers.
Age milestones and rate changes
While you might not see much change in your insurance rates with each passing year, you’ll likely notice rate changes as you hit particular age milestones.
Young drivers, from ages 16 to 24, often face the highest average costs. Once you’re 25, however, you can typically expect your costs to go down. Progressive, for example, states that rates drop about 9% on average for its customers once they turn 25.
Drivers in their 30s, 40s, and 50s typically find themselves enjoying the least expensive car insurance prices of their lifetime – unless, of course, they have a teenage motorist included on their policy.
After age 65, when senior citizens benefit from discounts on other expenses like movie theater tickets and hotel lodging, car insurance rates tend to go up again, but not as high as teen drivers tend to see.
Car insurance rates by age
There is no standard formula to calculate car insurance rates based on age. Rates are individualized, and age is only one of many factors.
On top of that, each insurance company evaluates criteria – such as age, location, driving record, claims history and more – in its own way to set rates.
To give one company’s example, consider this data from Progressive on the average monthly rates of its customers who purchased policies from September 2020 to August 2021.
Other criteria impacting car insurance rates
Age is not the only factor that can result in you scoring cheap car insurance — or paying through the nose.
Type of coverage and deductibles
The amount of coverage you get for your vehicle will affect how much you pay. Carrying only liability insurance could save you money each month, but you’d be on the hook for replacing or fixing your vehicle if you cause an accident, a tree branch breaks your windshield or your car is stolen.
Comprehensive insurance and collision insurance that are part of a full coverage policy give you more protection, but you’ll pay more in premiums.
If you want to lower your insurance premium, you could elect to pay a higher deductible. Just be prepared to pay that higher amount out of pocket in the event that you’re in an accident.
Type of car and vehicle usage
The type of vehicle you drive and how you use it play a major role in determining your car insurance rate. If your vehicle is more expensive to repair or the specific model is often a target for theft, you can expect to pay more for insurance. If your car has top safety and anti-theft features, you might pay less.
Also, your car insurance premiums can go up if you put a lot of mileage on the car each year or if you’re using your car for business purposes.
Where you live will have a major influence on your car insurance rates. Florida, for example, has some of the highest rates in the nation, while North Carolina is at the low end.
Not only do individual states have their own minimum coverage requirements, but also your specific ZIP code comes with its own level of risk. If you live in a densely populated area with more road congestion and higher crime rates, you’ll likely pay more for car insurance than if you lived in a more rural, safer town.
Insurance companies use credit scores to determine car insurance rates due to research that shows a correlation between a person’s credit score and their likelihood to file car insurance claims. Drivers with excellent credit tend to file less claims while those with poor credit tend to file more claims.
Gender and marital status
Your gender and your marital status are other factors insurance companies use to determine auto insurance rates. Male drivers – especially younger ones – usually pay more for car insurance than female drivers, based on data showing that men are more frequently involved in serious car accidents. Insurance companies typically view married drivers as less risky to insure compared to single drivers and tend to offer them lower rates.
Each insurance provider has its own underwriting process and methodology for evaluating your level of risk. That’s why it’s important to get auto insurance quotes from multiple companies. Even if you are already insured with one company, you might want to check rates from competitors once a year to make sure you’re getting the best car insurance for the best rate.
Frequently asked questions
Age is one of the many factors that has significance when it comes to car insurance rates. Here are the answers to some common questions surrounding age and car insurance rates.
Why is age a factor for car insurance rates?
Studies have shown that certain age groups are more prone to being involved in car accidents and filing auto insurance claims. To mitigate potential financial losses, most car insurance companies charge higher premiums for those high-risk age groups.
What age group has the most expensive car insurance?
Young drivers ages 16 to 24 tend to have the most expensive car insurance. Drivers in this age group are often inexperienced and are more likely to get into car accidents and file insurance claims. As a result, car insurance companies often charge higher premiums to young drivers.
Why does car insurance go down after 25?
Drivers 25 and older are typically viewed as having better driving skills due to more experience on the road. Speeding tickets, DUIs, or car accidents from earlier years disappear from driving records with time, so drivers over 25 with clean driving records should see an improvement in their average cost of car insurance.
What age group has the cheapest car insurance?
Experienced and middle-aged drivers in their 30s, 40s, and 50s often have the cheapest car insurance of all age groups. These drivers have more experience on the road and tend to be better drivers. They’re less likely to cause accidents and file insurance claims, so they’re viewed as less risky to insure. However, if drivers in this age range have teenage children or an elderly parent living in their household, their car insurance rates could go up.
Is it cheaper for teens to get their own insurance or be on their parents’ policy?
While having a teenage driver on a parent’s car insurance policy will cause that policy to be more expensive, it’s still usually less expensive than if that teen were to get insurance on their own. With a combined policy, the family can ideally benefit from the parent’s good driving history, credit score and being in a less risky age group.