At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.
Most new drivers are young people getting behind the wheel for the first time, but to car insurance companies, anyone without a recent driving record represents the same risk. So older drivers who are immigrants, foreign nationals and U.S. residents who haven’t driven — or had an auto insurance policy — for a period of time may all be considered new drivers and face similar issues getting insured.
It may take diligence to get a good rate, so be sure to compare quotes online from as many companies as you can.
Car insurance for new drivers under 25
Adding a teen to a married couple’s auto policy can double the family rate.
Auto insurance companies can justify higher charges for teenagers and people in their early twenties because they’re more likely than any other age group to cause accidents. If you’re a new driver in your teens or early twenties, the best way to get cheap insurance is to stay on your parents’ policy for as long as you have the same permanent address.
Beware that “cheap” is relative here — adding a teen to a married couple’s policy is likely to (at least) double their rate, according to NerdWallet’s analysis. However, going it alone is likely to be more expensive — always compare multiple insurance quotes online to be sure.
Some good news: Insurance companies offer plenty of discounts for students and young drivers, and your rates will get better over time as you drive safely. When you’re ready to get your own insurance policy, you can ask your parents’ carrier for a quote, but also get a couple of others to be sure it’s a good price.
» MORE: Compare car insurance
Car insurance for immigrants and foreign nationals
If you’ll be driving in the U.S., get a license as soon as possible and then get three insurance quotes.
Even if you have a long history of safe driving in another country, insurance companies consider you a new driver when pricing a policy in the U.S. for the first time. Since they access only domestic driving records when setting rates, only your driving history in the U.S. counts. This also goes for your credit history, which is also used to help calculate auto insurance rates in all but three states — California, Hawaii and Massachusetts.
Without a valid U.S. driver’s license, you’ll have a hard time getting an insurance policy from any company, even if you have an international driver’s permit. In that case, if you’re renting a car, the easiest option may be to use the rental car company’s coverage.
If you plan on staying and driving in the U.S., it’s best to take steps to get a driver’s license in the state you’re residing in. Some, such as California, will issue a driver’s license to an undocumented immigrant. Once you have your license, get at least three auto insurance quotes so you can choose the best rate and coverage.
Car insurance after a driving or coverage gap
Continuous coverage is one of the most important factors insurers consider when setting rates.
Maybe you spent some time abroad or your license expired because your lifestyle just doesn’t require any driving. Without a driving history to check, insurers can still consider you a new driver. And without continuous auto coverage, they can consider you a high-risk driver, which has similar effects on car insurance rates.
Even if you have some driving history to reference, it’s important to shop around for your next policy since you’ll likely pay more just for having a gap in coverage. There’s an exception for military deployment from many companies, so be sure and ask if that applies to you.
Since continuous coverage is one of the most important factors insurers consider, some may not accept your application if you’ve had gaps between policies. If that’s the case, you can look for nonstandard insurance companies that specialize in coverage for people having a hard time getting insured.
Want to take action?
Compare car insurance rates today
Want to dive deeper?
Find out what you need for an insurance quote
Want to explore related?
Learn how insurers use your credit history