The car the teen will be driving has a big impact on the insurance rate. Ignore the urban legends about auto insurance pricing – the color of your car doesn't matter. The make, model and year of the car are the deciding factors. Brand-new cars are much more expensive to insure, and the more expensive the car, the more expensive the insurance. High-performance cars with lots of horsepower under the hood cost a bundle to insure too.
This doesn't mean that you should buy a cheap old clunker for your teen. Insurance companies discount premiums for modern safety features like anti-lock brakes, airbags and stability control. The ideal car is three or four years old and in good working order, with as many safety features as possible. In the U.S., you can check national crash test data to find which cars have the highest safety ratings.
It's not just a matter of safety, though. If a car is a thief magnet, it will cost more to insure. Find out which cars are most likely to be stolen at the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
This also brings up one of the rare cases when it might be cheaper for a teen to purchase his or her own insurance, separate from the parents' insurance. If both parents drive flashy, high-performance cars and the teen will be driving a different car, a separate policy may be less expensive.