Insuring your teen driver

Posted in Auto

When your snugglebear stops playing with toy cars in the bedroom and starts the ignition on a real car in the driveway, it’s time to start thinking about two big things: safety and insurance.

It’s true. Auto insurance rates tend to go up when you add a teen driver onto your policy or purchase a separate policy for a teenage driver. This is because teens are among the most high-risk drivers on the road today, racking up more traffic citations, having more driving accidents and filing more insurance claims than other drivers.

If you’re like most parents, you may be asking yourself these important questions right now:

  1. How am I going to keep my teen safe on the road?
  2. How can I lower the cost of insuring a teenage driver?

Let’s get started and help you find the answers!

Keeping your teen driver safe
Some states require teens to complete a driver’s education course from a state-approved instructor or organization. Some states don’t. Either way, it’s highly recommended that your teen driver completes a driver education course to better learn the rules of the road and how to stay safe.

Another thing that varies state-by-state is teen driver regulations, so be sure to learn yours. Teen driver regulations typically include rules such as driving only at certain times of the day or night, having only a certain number of passengers in the vehicle or making sure there’s a driver of a certain age in the vehicle at all times.

If your state doesn’t have these regulations, you can still enforce your own rules if you don’t feel that your teen is ready for certain situations like driving at night, with friends or making a long-distance road trip, since any of these could increase the risk of a new driver having an accident. There are also mobile apps that parents can download to monitor their teen’s driving behavior, including things like speeding, braking too hard or accelerating too fast.

Make it even easier to enforce your rules by making it clear to your teenage driver that he or she is driving a “family” car, instead of a personal vehicle. This will allow you to better set rules for how the car can be used.

Finally, talk to your teen driver about the dangers of distracted driving and check out new technology that can disable texting and social media on cell phones while the car is in motion. Be sure to coach your teenage driver on how to remain aware while driving, avoid distractions and assess potential risks while operating their vehicle.

Even after your teen receives a driver’s license, you may want to periodically be a passenger in their vehicle to continue to help coach their driving behaviors and keep them on the right track.

Lowering your insurance costs
As soon as your teen receives a learner’s permit, notify your independent agent, who can start guiding you through the process of insuring your teen driver. Typically, your insurance carrier won’t list your teenager on the policy until he or she is a licensed driver, but it’s good to keep your agent in the loop in case your carrier has specific rules for insuring a driver with a learner’s permit.

Generally, you’ll need to add your teen as a driver on your own car insurance policy, and this tends to cost less than buying a separate policy, too. Your teen can typically have his or her own insurance policy if the vehicle is titled in his or her name. But since many states won’t allow drivers under age 18 to title their own vehicle, your only option may be to add your teen onto your own policy.

While you have your agent’s ear, ask him or her about additional ways you may be able to save money while insuring your teen driver, such as:

  • A multiple vehicle discount if you’re insuring multiple vehicles, including your teen’s car, with the same insurance carrier.
  • A good student discount if your teenager excels in the classroom.
  • Increasing your deductible to pay lower premiums. Just make sure you can afford to pay the higher deductible out-of-pocket in the event of an auto claim.
  • Making your teen driver an “occasional” or “pleasure-only” driver on your policy — instead of a primary driver — if they are away at school or college without the vehicle.
  • Having your teen drive a vehicle that costs less to insure. Typically, these are more affordable vehicles with high safety ratings, instead of flashy, sporty, expensive or higher horsepower vehicles which can cost more to insure. Groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) publishes a list of safe, affordable cars for teenagers each year. In general, larger, heavier vehicles are safest.

Furthermore, explain to your teen driver the importance of keeping a clean driving record. The more traffic infractions and at-fault accidents they have, the more points they accumulate and it’s more likely their auto insurance rates will increase, too.

Teen drivers can also expose their families to costly personal or property damage lawsuits if they cause damage that falls beyond the covered limits in the car insurance policy. With this in mind, you may want to raise your liability limits now or look into umbrella coverage to protect your family’s assets in case it’s ever needed.

But the good news is that without any major moving violations or accidents, the cost to insure a teenage driver can steadily decrease over time. So, if you and your teen always put safety first, then you can worry less about keeping them safe and insured.

Talk to your local independent Grange agent to learn more about insuring your teenage driver. This article is for information and suggestion purposes only. For specific coverage details, always refer to your policy. If the policy coverage descriptions in this article conflict with the language in the policy, the language in the policy applies.

References:
-DMV.org
-National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
-Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)


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