Most parents face mixed emotions as the day approaches that their teenager will start driving. It reminds you that your child is growing up (too fast), that you will have less & less control of their activities, and it brings up all sorts of safety concerns while they are out and about. Many of these concerns can be pushed aside and rationalized away, but what a teen does to your car insurance rates is very real and will affect your pocketbook immediately.
Before your teenager goes to drivers training and definitely before they get their learner’s permit, call your insurance agent to find out if your insurance company charges for teen drivers who only have a learner’s permit. Many car insurance companies don’t charge for teens with a learner permits but some do. Ask your insurance agent how much your insurance will be once your teenager gets a permit and also once they get their actual driver’s license. Be sure to ask about discounts (see below).
All insurance companies will want to know that you have a new potential driver in the household. When you signed the auto insurance application, in the fine print, you probably promised to tell them about new drivers in your household (and probably anyone 15 or over, licensed or not, in the household) and not disclosing this information may jeopardize your insurance coverage in the event of a serious accident.
How to lower teenage driver insurance rates
Most companies offer a Good Student Discount if your child is a full time student and has a “B” average or better. Since driver’s training is mandatory in Washington for drivers under 18, most companies already have that factored in. Also, ask if there is a driver safety program offered by your insurance company that will qualify your child for a discount.
Another common discount (when they are a bit older) is a discount for being over 100 miles away at a school without a car. For example, you live in the Tri-Cities and your child goes to college in Seattle and didn’t bring a car.
Should my teenager get their own policy?
First, if you own the car, you are still going to be responsible for anything done by anyone driving your car even if they have their own insurance. We recommend keeping the car insured on your policy, if possible, if you are the owner of the car.
Second, it is almost never cheaper for a child to get their own policy unless you are excluding them from driving your nice new luxury cars and insuring them on just one car. But this usually means placing the child with a high risk insurance company rather than a preferred company and usually means they cannot drive any of your other cars for any reason, even emergencies.
Third, if you do get a separate policy for your child on a car you own, make sure it has the same liability, uninsured motorist, and medical coverage limits as your primary policy. Your child is much more likely to cause an accident than you are so you want to make sure you have the same level of protection.
When must my child get their own car insurance policy?
They buy their own car. Some insurance companies will allow a family member’s car to be added to your policy if they live with you, some won’t. Ask your agent. Don’t just call and add it to your policy without telling your agent that you are not the owner.
They move out. If your child moves out of your home, they must get their own policy and the car they are driving should be in their name. If the car is still in your name, either change it into theirs or make sure they have as much liability coverage as you do and have you listed as an additional insured on that car so that you don’t end up paying all the bills after a serious accident.
They collect tickets and accidents like Pokemón. If your insurance company say you must either exclude your child from your policy or you will be cancelled at renewal, it is time for your child to get their own car insurance. This policy most likely will be with a high risk insurance company and will probably be quite expensive compared to what you have been paying. Again, if the car is in your name you will either want the insurance to be in your name or change the car into their name. Whatever you do, make sure you are protected if the unthinkable happens.
What can you do to get the best car insurance rates?
This can all sound confusing, which is why we always recommend working with a local independent agency like ours to look at all the options. Call us at (509)783-5600 or come into one of our offices in Kennewick, Pasco, or Yakima, or use our online quote page to build your car insurance policy with the coverages, options, and deductibles for you and your teenager.