Covering Teens: South Carolina parents pay extra 78 percent to insure 16-19 year-olds as motorists - and we're a cheaper state

A Stall High School student learns from his instructor what it's like to steer while listening or texting on a cell phone. It was part of Ford's Driving Skills for Life program, which visited the school in 2011. Even with safety classes, teen drivers as a whole add 78 percent to their parents' auto policies in South Carolina. File/Jim Parker/Staff

Yes, they're memorable times: teaching your daughter or son how to drive, offering advice on picking out a car and handing over the keys.

Of course, those memories come in all types. Do you recall a feeling of pride and accomplishment to see a new motorist in the household? Or, does the very thought of those days, desperately stabbing at an imaginary brake, make you break out in a cold sweat?

Whatever the case, millions of youngsters eventually figure out the science - or is it art? - of driving.

But for their parents, there's still one more obstacle they have to hurdle: adding the teen to their auto policy.

And that's a financial pain endured almost everywhere in the country.

An report released in July found that "adding a teenage driver to a married couple's car insurance policy leads to a 79 percent higher average annual premium." The figures are for the U.S. as a whole.

To put that into perspective, your routine $1,000 a year bill for auto coverage just lurched to $1,790.

Still, the cost to insure a teenage driver declined over the past year. In 2013, the average annual increase was 85 percent, according to

The company also computed rate difference by gender. Teenage males push up rates to a greater extent than teenage females, according to the report. Males aged 16-19 add 92 percent to the bill, while female teens tack on 67 percent. The price jumps are down from last year, though. Males added 98 percent and females, 73 percent, to the typical policy in 2013.

There was other "good news." The increases in premiums brought on by insuring teens decline each year, from 96 percent for 16-year-olds to 58 percent for 19-year-olds.

To prepare the report, commissioned Quadrant Information Services "to calculate rates using data from the largest carriers in each state."

In the state-by-state survey, South Carolina ranked 32nd highest, with a price increase of 77.59 percent when adding a teen to auto coverage. New Hampshire had the steepest spike, 111.12 percent, and was one of seven states where insurance rates more than doubled when teens were added to policies.

Hawaii offered the best bargain, with rates rising just 17.2 percent. According to, Hawaii is the only state that prohibits age, gender and length of driving experience from affecting car insurance costs.

Compared with the national price hike, male teens get a mild break from South Carolina's rates, rising 89 percent. Females see the same boost in rates as the U.S. as a whole at 67 percent.

The company said it based rate averages on a "married and employed 45-year-old male and 45-year-old female who each drive 12,000 miles per year." The couple has policy limits of $100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage. The hypothetical drivers have clean driving records and good credit. Rates also include uninsured motorist coverage.

"A great strategy for lowering car insurance costs is to sign up for pay-as-you-drive car insurance," said Laura Adams, senior analyst with

"These programs allow companies to track your driving habits and can lead to significant discounts, especially if you're a safe driver who doesn't rack up too many miles," she said.

"Teens who excel in the classroom should also take advantage of good student discounts," Adams said., a part of Bankrate Insurance, said it provides consumers with a way to shop and compare rates online, while providing information on auto, home, health and life insurance among others.

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Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or