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Young drivers spend nearly £2,400 a year running their cars

Running a car is never cheap, but our latest Young Drivers report shows that 17-24 year olds are spending a whopping £2,397.06 per year to run a car. This represents a £97.54 rise on the previous six months, primarily due to increased petrol costs in line with global oil prices. Of that, car insurance accounts for over half (54%) of young drivers’ annual costs. In fact, the average 17-24 year old spends more on insurance each year than petrol.

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The cost of car insurance for young drivers

This latest report shows that the average premium for 17-24 year olds currently stands at £1,306.55, a £49.20 increase compared to the previous six months, primarily due to increases in Insurance Premium Tax (IPT). That’s £469 more than the average premium for the next age group of 25-29 year olds (according to our recent Premium Drivers report).  

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Why is young driver insurance so expensive?

Young drivers face expensive insurance premiums because they’re far more likely to be involved in a car accident than older drivers. This is supported by research from Brake, the road safety charity, which shows that 23% of 18-24 year olds crash within two years of passing their driving test, while drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are a third more likely to have a fatal accident than those aged 40 to 49.

According to Brake, this increased risk is due to a mix of inexperience, overconfidence and risky behaviour. They found that young people were more likely to speed, overtake on blind bends, not wear a seat belt and drive while under the influence of drugs.

Other factors include peer pressure – it’s tempting to show off in front of a car full of friends or become easily distracted by antics. Young people tend to socialise at night and this is when many accidents happen, especially between 2am and 5am.

As a consequence, insurance providers see young drivers as particularly high risk, and therefore more likely to claim against their insurance.

car running costs chart

The cost of running a car

But while insurance contributes to the overall outlay, young drivers have other high costs to consider to keep their car on the road.

As global oil prices continue to climb to their highest point since June 2015, fuel has become a greater expense for anybody looking to run a car. According to estimates from the AA, the average price of unleaded petrol is as much as £1.19 per litre. This means that the average 17-24 year old is now spending a staggering £880.34 per year on fuel, up £51.78 on the previous six months. This makes petrol, unsurprisingly, the second biggest annual outlay for young people running a car.

But that’s not it – there are, of course, further expenses we’ll all be familiar with. Other compulsory car-related costs include road tax (on average £110) and MOT (on average £54.85). And, for peace of mind, breakdown cover will set young drivers back an average of £45.32, one of the few costs to have gone down. So, with annual car-running costs coming in at a massive £2,397.06 a year, it begs the question of how 17-24 year olds are ever meant to afford to run a car.

How much are young drivers spending on buying a car?

The most popular car quoted for by 17-24 year olds on our site remains the Vauxhall Corsa. While the average value of the Corsa sits at £3,110.46, the average premium presented to 17-24 year olds to insure it is £1,297.61!

The second most popular model with that age group is the Ford Fiesta. With this model, the average premium comes in slightly lower at £1,259.69, despite the significantly higher average car value of £4,095.77. At number 10 on our list is the Fiat 500. Insuring one of these will set the average young driver back £919.15, despite the fact that the average value for the car is the highest on the most popular list at £6,072.78.

Most popular cars table

How to cut the cost of young driver insurance

So, young people seem fated to pay a lot to get their car on the road. But it’s not all doom and gloom, though, and there are definitely ways to cut the cost of young driver insurance.  As we reported earlier this year, telematics policies are on the rise and can help to reduce premiums for young drivers.

cheapest cars to insure table

Save on car insurance for young drivers by choosing a cheaper car

Young drivers also stand to save some money on their car insurance by being a little wiser with their motor purchases. The report highlights that the only car on the most popular list that also makes it on to the top ten cheapest cars to insure list is the Fiat 500, which comes in at number three. Yet the rest seem to remain less popular despite the fact that the average price for the cheapest cars to insure comes in at £951.16 – that’s £331.32 less than the average price for the most popular car (£1,282.48).

As you can see, the VW Up! heads up the cheapest cars to insure list once again, coming in at just £905.63 to insure, with the Skoda Citigo following in second at just £908.78. Other cheap models to insure include the Citroen C1 (£948.51), Vauxhall ADAM (£969.55), and the Mazda 2 (£986.39).

You can read more on how to find the best car for your budget here.

How to find cheap car insurance for young drivers

If you’re a young driver, or you have one in your household, don’t let the costs deter you. While it’s inevitably going to be more expensive for 17-24 year olds to get a car on the road, there are savings to be had if you’re prepared to shop around and get the right deal. For example, those switch-savvy youngsters among you could save £265** on average per year just by comparing premiums.

Choosing the right car and finding the right insurance are two easy ways to reduce your costs. You can compare car insurance now and make sure that you’re getting a great deal for you.

**The average saving is based on the difference between the cheapest click-through price presented and the mean average of the top five cheapest prices presented to a customer, where a consumer has clicked through to buy.

All research from the February edition of the Young Drivers report – February 2017

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