Driver behind the wheel.
Driver behind the wheel. - 
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KAI RYSSDAL: Don't look now, but there's something happening in the world of car insurance. Premiums are going down, so the competition for customers is heating up. Some of the biggest companies are looking to the age group that is typically the riskiest -- and most expensive -- to insure. They're offering discounts to young drivers -- and their parents. Jeremy Hobson has more.

Jeremy Hobson has that story.

JEREMY HOBSON: You don't have to buy your kid a car on her 16th birthday to notice a difference in your account balance. Just ask the Dwinell family of Montpelier, Vermont, who have to pay more than a thousand dollars a year for car insurance. There are two kids of driving age, but the mom, Jane Dwinell, says right now only one is on the insurance bill.

JANE DWINELL Actually the 17-year old has refused to get his driver's license because we make them pay their share of car insurance, and he didn't want to have to pay.

Now, the industry knows it's expensive to insure young drivers and for good reason: They get in more accidents. But with more competition, safer cars and drops in theft and fraud, premium rates are flattening across the board.

So teens are looking better to insurers.

JEANNE SALVATORE: Insurance companies really are looking to build their book of business, but also they're looking for the best risk in terms of drivers.

Jeanne Salvatore is with the Insurance Information Institute, an industry group. She says many of the deep discounts offered to young drivers come with rules. From increased driving lessons to this idea from Safeco:

TAPED MESSAGE: After you receive a Teensurance kit, a small GPS system is placed under the dash of the car.

If you're willing to track your kids -- or take other safety measures -- the rewards can be substantial. From 5 percent all the way up to 50 percent on some premiums. And for the insurance companies is the potential for customers who could stick around for decades. That adds up even for an industry that already pulls in more than $160 billion worth of premiums each year.

I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson