Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates. He has also been featured on sites like UpJourney.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that exis...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 16, 2020

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Things to Remember...

  • Given the high statistics, parents should make sure they take every safety step possible to keep their teen drivers out of danger
  • The IIHS gives ratings to cars for crash-worthiness. Parents should use these results as an important parameter in their purchase of a car for their teen
  • While older cars are cheaper to buy and insure, they lack the advanced safety features of new car, which are expensive to buy and insure
  • While your teenager might be drooling over the svelte contours of a sports car, they are expensive to insure, they also compel high speeds and in the hands of a teenager have a higher probability for rash driving and impulsive decisions

Getting a driver license is a time of great celebration for teenagers. As they revel in their newfound independence, parents grapple with issues such as insurance for their teenagers and whether to get a new car.

Whether you get your teen a new or old car, type your ZIP into the FREE comparison tool above to get a list of insurance quotes to fit your needs!

If the parents do decide to get their teen a car, the discussion centers around whether they should get a spanking new car or a pre-owned model and so on. Getting the right car for your teenager is very important.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 3,000 teens in the United States between 15–19 were killed while more than 350,000 were treated in ER departments for injuries sustained in automobile accidents.

Given the high statistics, parents should make sure they take every safety step possible to keep their teens out of danger.

Getting the right car can really help keep your teen safe while keeping your insurance bill from shooting through the roof!

New Car or Old Car: What Should You Get

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While most parents would love to surprise their teen driver with a brand new car, financial considerations, and practicality keeps many from doing just that.

While your teen might roll his or her eyes at your choice, as a parent it is your job to make sure that you cover all safety and insurance requirements.

Whether you get a new car or an old one, parents must do their due diligence.

Before settling on a car, make sure the car has all the basic safety features such as multiple airbags, seatbelts, anti-lock brakes, as well as additional features as electronic stability and crash alert technologies, if possible.

There are multiple resources available online that rate vehicles on different scales. One of the most important factors is safety.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is the standard determinant of how well a car protects its passengers in the incidence of a crash.

Based on their performance in various crash test scenarios, the IIHS giving ratings to cars ranging from good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

They produce a list of crash-worthiness every year. Parents should use these results as an important parameter in their purchase of a car for their teen.

If you get a pre-owned car, it needs a thorough inspection by a reputable mechanic. If you don’t have a regular mechanic you trust, make sure you ask for certification before assigning them the job.

Besides the overall inspection, what requires attention are the parts that are exposed to regular wear and tear such as brakes, tires, headlights, taillights, and windshield wipers, among others.

Adding a teenager to your auto insurance policy is certainly going to send your insurance bill soaring.

So make sure you get the safest possible car to lower your premium as much as possible.

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

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Free Auto Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Getting a New Car: Pros and Cons

The biggest pro for getting a new car is that your teenager will be thrilled at your gesture! Additionally, if you get a new car with top rated crash ratings, you are insuring your child’s safety.

A new car also does not come with worries about worn brake lines or brake pads, windshields that smear or seat belts that suddenly stop working.

Usually, most new cars come equipped with advanced safety features such as electronic stability control and additional add-ons such as rearview cameras.

The biggest con of a new car is the whopping rise you will see in your insurance bill. This will be more so if you are financing the car and have the child as the primary driver.

Your car loan company will require you to have comprehensive and collision insurance besides the minimum state mandated liability insurance.

Finally, you have to deal with the repercussions of the actual handling of the car by your teen and its maintenance costs.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the chances of your teen driver putting a dent in the car or worse, is one in four. Imagine the cost of such repair and its impact on your car insurance premium!

Getting an Old Car: Pros and Cons

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Getting an old car means higher vigilance about the condition of the car.

Besides the engine and the transmission, parents have to make sure that all its parts are in working conditions and well within the safety standards. Make sure they have anti-lock brakes.

If the car is especially old, parents should look at elements such as seatbelts, door locks, and airbags to make sure that they work properly.

Make sure you look for any red flags in its maintenance records such as water logging, transmission failure, or past accidents.

The biggest advantage of an old car is that it is much cheaper to ensure. In some cases, it might not be worth getting collision and comprehensive coverage since your insurance company’s payment in case of the car being totaled will be much lesser than your deductible!

Safety and Insurance Busting Cars

While your teenager might be drooling over the svelte contours of a sports car, or lusting after a powered up muscle car, these cars are magnets for trouble.

Not only are they expensive to insure, they also compel high speeds and in the hands of a teenager have a higher probability for rash driving and impulsive decisions.

Latest safety ratings from IIHS have given the nod to certain crossover SUVs for teens because of decreased instances of rollover accidents.

However, avoid getting larger SUVs and pickups since they are heavier to drive, more prone to roll over, have higher gas mileage and can be unwieldy.

Given their large capacity, your teen driver can ferry a large number of passengers, which can easily distract him or her and lead to an accident. Such cars are more expensive to buy and cost more to insure.

Subcompact and mini cars are not very stable and don’t provide a lot of protection in a crash.

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Best Cars: How to Judge

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Each automobile expert you ask will give you a different answer when you ask them to recommend the best car for your teenager.

While older cars are cheaper to buy and insure, they lack the advanced safety features of new car, which are expensive to buy and insure.

So it becomes a tough balancing job for parents between safety, reliability, and cost.

But most auto experts agree that the best choice for a teen car is a later model, four-door, four cylinder car that provides balance, just the right amount of power, sharp performance, advanced safety features, and gives good gas mileage.

Not only are these cars easier and cheaper to insure, they come with enough cool factor to please your child!
According to Yahoo! Autos, their list of top cars for the year is based on a price point of $15,000, which would allow for safety features as required by parents along with fuel efficiency, automatic transmission and running costs.

The top cars on their list include:

  • 2006-2007 Volvo S40: Recognized for its safety features such as frame integrity, air bag technology, and blind spot sensors, this car is designed beautifully with a five-cylinder engine that delivers great gas mileage.
  • 2008-2009 Mazda3: This Japanese car with its four-cylinder engine is most practical for new drivers, either in its sedan or Touring/hatchback incarnations.
  • 2005-2006 Ford Escape Hybrid: This hybrid SUV with its four-cylinder engine does not guzzle gas and is a solid vehicle. Buying a used Escape often gets you premium options such as navigation and stereo system without any extra cost.
  • 2008-2009 Toyota Camry: The mantra of this car is reliability. With four cylinders and rather homely contours, this workhorse of a car is a practical parent’s dream come true.
  • 2006-2007 Mercedes-Benz C230: The name is synonymous with European workmanship, safety, and engineering. With proper maintenance, the Sport model with its 201-hp V6 is likely to last a long time, without eating you out of house and home!

You can also find a similar list of top cars for teens at Consumer Reports.

Using different parameters of cost than the Yahoo! report, their compilation includes:

  • Acura TSX
  • Nissan Altima (2010 or later)
  • Chevrolet Malibu (2008 or later)
  • Nissan Sentra (2010 or later)
  • Ford Focus sedan (2009-2011)
  • Scion xB (2008 or later)

Buying Insurance for Teen Drivers

Sending your teenage son or daughter out in the world to drive on their own is a stressful proposition. Make sure you have the right insurance to protect them in case of an unfortunate accident.

Do not automatically settle on your own insurance company for your teenager’s coverage. Do your research. Go online and seek quotes from competing insurance companies.

Talk to your family and friends with older teenagers, who have been driving. They might have some beneficial advice for you.

There are multiple discounts available in the insurance market. Make sure you take advantage of all the offers that apply to you and your family.

If all flashy advertising online and on TV confuses you, just click here to enter your ZIP in our FREE quote tool now!