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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Learning to drive is a major stepping stone in life, opening one of the first gateways to adulthood. Most drivers begin driving between 15 and 16, and must go through a transitional period with a learner’s permit before obtaining a full driver’s license. Laws vary from one state to the next, but generally new drivers will need to abide by certain restrictions on their license until they turn a certain age. For example, drivers with a learner’s permit may not be able to drive after dark or drive without an adult in the car with them.
Car Insurance for Young Drivers
Auto insurance pays for damage to a vehicle; it also covers any damage caused by that vehicle as a result of an accident. Because coverage follows the vehicle, not the driver, the vehicle’s owner should be the person who purchases the auto insurance policy. Any claims would be paid to the name listed on the title of the car; this name should match the policyholder’s name on the insurance.
This means that unless you are the owner of your vehicle, you do not need to buy auto insurance. Most people co-own vehicles with their parents until they leave the house, and some individuals continue to stay on their parent’s policy well into their college years. Usually, parents will just add a vehicle to the existing auto policy or take out a separate policy for the vehicle the child usually drives.
It is important, however, to add any young drivers to the auto policy regardless of whether they own their own vehicle. While auto insurance coverage will usually transfer to anyone in the home, the claims process becomes much easier whenever a driver is already listed on the policy. Your insurance company will also need to know for underwriting purposes who is driving the vehicle; the identity and age of all the drivers in the household will affect your rates, and if you are found to have people repeatedly driving your vehicles without being listed on the policy your insurance company may drop you from coverage.
Special Considerations for Young Drivers
If your child is listed on your insurance policy, he or she will be covered under any first-party medical coverage you carry. This medical coverage will apply to any vehicle-related injury, whether or not the child was driving and regardless of what vehicle is involved. For example, if you carry personal injury protection on your policy and your child is hit as a pedestrian, those injuries would be covered under your insurance. This policy extends to any resident relative in your home.
Whenever you add a young driver to your insurance, you can expect your rates to increase. You can counteract this rate increase slightly by taking out a separate policy for your child’s vehicle and listing him on that policy, then excluding him from the policy holding all of the other vehicles in the home. Bear in mind that if you do this, you cannot allow your child to drive any other vehicle in the home; an accident caused by an excluded driver will be rejected and you will have to pay the damage out of pocket.
Your child may be qualify for discounted car insurance rates by taking additional driver’s education courses or by maintaining good grades. Most car insurance companies offer student discounts to high school and college students; be sure to ask your agent or customer service representative if you can enroll your teenager in that type of program.
Also bear in mind that regardless of your child being listed on the insurance policy, he or she will not be able to file a claim if he or she is under 18 years old. Minors cannot make any changes to an auto policy, discuss coverage, make inspection appointments or handle any other aspects of a claim. This means that if your child is involved in an accident that you will need to handle the claim for him.
Adding your child to your car insurance policy early on will help him to obtain his own policy more easily in the future. Individuals with a long history of car insurance will qualify for lower rates and better policies when they obtain their own policy.