Telematics: The Road to Cheaper Car Insurance for Teen Drivers

The most expensive words in the English language could well be your teenager saying, “Can I borrow the car?” As soon as you give the keys to the family wheels to your kid, you can expect your car insurance premiums to skyrocket — on average around 79%! There are several things you can do to soften that financial blow. Having a female child, for example, nets you on average just a 67% premium bump. Smart kids (or at least studious ones) could help too, as insurance companies often give discounts for young drivers who maintain a B or better GPA and those who attend qualifying safe driving courses. It will definitely help to put your kid in a nice safe sedan versus a zippy little pocket rocket. But that’s old news. What’s really new on the car insurance horizon is telematics, specifically telematics programs aimed at teen drivers.

Put a Nanny Under the Hood

Chevrolet, perhaps as long due atonement for giving us the unsafe-at-any-speed Corvair, introduced its Teen Driver mode in its 2016 Malibu at the New York Auto Show on April 1. Sorry kids, but this is no April’s Fool joke. The new system will let parents assess their child’s driving via a remote display. Using a key fob specific to the vehicle, a parent can set a maximum speed limit and prevent young drivers from disabling safety features. The system will even mute the radio if the driver fails to buckle up. Break the rules and the nanny under the hood issues an audible scolding! Mom and dad will also be able to see how many miles were driven, the maximum speed traveled, jack-rabbit starts, hard braking, hard cornering, failing to check the blind spot before changing lanes and, of course, speeding. It doesn’t yet do anything to prevent distracted driving. But who knows? Chevy may opt to follow Apple’s model and release Teen Driver mode 2.0 next year.

Self-Installed Options

Don’t want to fork over 20K plus for a new Chevrolet? There are several commercially available solutions that you can self-install with about the same skills required to assemble a basic IKEA bookcase. They offer the same sort of monitoring designed to encourage good driving habits and rat your child out for reckless behavior. LynxSafe, for example, plugs into the computer port of the vehicle and lets the parent determine certain rules and notification thresholds. Presumably it will let alert you if your child unplugs the device. Like many other active and passive safety devices, these may qualify for a car insurance discount depending on your policy provider.

Pay As You Drive Insurance

Although not universally marketed for teen drivers, there are several telematics programs now offered by major car insurance carriers that reward good habits with nice discounts. AllState’s Drivewise and Progressive’s SnapShot® are just two examples. You can learn who offers these voluntary usage-based programs and shop for the cheapest auto insurance policies for teen drivers here.


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