When Junior is ready for his first vehicle, he may assume the best car is the one that looks the best or goes the fastest. As an experienced driver and a concerned parent, you know there is much more to a vehicle than appearances or performance. In fact, the features at the top of your teenager’s list very likely may be the ones at the bottom of yours. Before you head out shopping for a new or used car, arm yourself with our list of factors to consider in a vehicle and their effects on car insurance for teens.
There can be some discrepancies between what you, the vehicle manufacturer, and independent organizations consider ‘safe.’ A recent review of recommendations from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the American Automobile Association found that the two groups disagree on whether teens should be driving SUVs. However, both organizations agree that mid-size sedans are safest for teens and that small, compact cars should be avoided.
A good place to start your search is at SaferCar.gov, which is powered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There, you can find a complete list of vehicles with 5-star safety ratings.
Parents should be on the lookout for a late model vehicle since these are equipped with many of the newest safety features like antilock brakes. Some of the latest cars have a unique feature call electronic stability control, or ESC. This feature uses advanced technology to apply the brakes on individual wheels in an effort to help drivers maintain control of their vehicles in slippery conditions.
Pay extra attention to vehicles that include collision warning systems, rear-view cameras, or a system that automatically notifies emergency services if the airbags are deployed in the vehicle. Some of the newest vehicles even offer parental controls, including the ability to cap music volume or establish a maximum speed limit.
The cost to insure a particular vehicle is another importance consideration when buying a car for your teen. Although not as important as safety, insurance rates are often closely tied to the safety performance of a particular vehicle. There are exceptions, however. For example, your student may be very safe inside of a luxury Mercedes, but the cost to insure a high-value vehicle could be exorbitant. Likewise, parents should stay away from high horse-powered engines, since these make it easier for teenagers to engage in risky driving behaviors. It is not uncommon for an insurer to double the rates for the teen driver of a sports car versus the driver of a 3-year old 4-door sedan.
To get a better idea of how much your teen’s vehicle will cost to insure, contact Stauffer-Klug Insurance when you start shopping around. We can provide some advice on car insurance for teens before you sign on the dotted line. We can also help you explore your coverage options to ensure your teen is well-protected on the road.
Finally, consider the total cost of ownership for a particular vehicle before buying. This includes the loss you might take on a car’s depreciation, as well as the cost of maintenance and repairs.
Be sure to include fuel expenses based on the vehicle’s fuel efficiency rating and any recurring expenses like oil changes and registration costs. If your young driver is partially or completely financially responsible for his or her own vehicle, make an estimate of how much those costs might add up to over time.
Teens that work and attend school at the same time may experience stress from the financial strain of owning a high-maintenance vehicle. Some websites, such as Consumer Reports, provide a guide on the actual cost of vehicle ownership and how one model compares to another.