If you have kids approaching driving age, you may find yourself awash in research trying to find affordable and comprehensive car insurance for them. In most cases, you’ll be leaning toward adding them to your existing personal or family policies, but is sticking with your current insurer always the best option?
Take some of these issues into consideration before you make a final decision.
Laws and limits
By the time your teen is ready to be covered by a car insurance policy, you both should be well acquainted with the unique rules and requirements of drivers and teen drivers in your state, from both a licensing and insurance standpoint. Every state sets minimum requirements for insurance coverage for licensed drivers, even teen drivers. Some wrinkles in teen licensing and insuring have developed in recent years.
Today, every state has adopted Graduated Driving License (GDL) programs that progressively allow teens to earn more and more driving privileges until they are deemed to be fully licensed drivers.
When you’re in the market for insurance for your teen driver, at least knowt:
- How soon your teen(s) can start driving
- If there are time-of-day restrictions on when your teen(s) can drive
- If there are passenger (type and number) restrictions for your teen driver(s)
- When your teen(s) will need to have insurance in place
- What types and levels of car insurance coverage your teen(s) will need to be in full compliance with your state’s laws
Finding a teen savvy insurer
A car insurance company may offer to sell you and your teen a policy, but does that make them a good fit for you and your family? There are questions you should ask any prospective insurer, including your current one. Are the insurers you’re considering well equipped to welcome teen drivers into your family of drivers? Did your current insurer initiate the discussion by offering to assist you and your family early in the process of your kids driving education? Does the insurer sponsor, support or promote local safe driving programs for teens?
Some insurance companies emphasize how inexpensive the car insurance they sell can be, and some of these companies make an even bigger issue out of inexpensive teen car insurance. That can be an attractive pitch since adding a teen driver will greatly increase you car insurance costs. While every family looks for savings, going cheap with your kid’s car insurance coverage may not be the best place in the budget to scrimp.
Look for insurers that offer free programs or online tools for teen drivers and their families. These insurers often offer discounts on premiums for families and their teen drivers who enroll in these programs or who use these tools.
Involve your teen in looking for discounts
Teen drivers are inexperienced drivers and are far more likely to get into accidents. Insurance companies price teen car insurance coverage accordingly. The Insurance Research Council (IRC) suggests that families can pay anywhere from 2-5 times more on car insurance premiums when teen driver(s) are added to a policy.
The added price is one important reason why parents and teens should always look for and ask about car insurance premium discounts when pursuing teen car insurance. All insurance companies offer discounts and some of the standard discounts are actually targeted to teen drivers. Involving your teen in the pursuit of discounts may help them understand the importance of maintaining good life and driving habits
If your teen maintains good grades while in school, most insurers will offer a discount on premium as recognition of the achievement and the responsibility that comes with that. If the car your teen drives has airbags, safety belts, anti-lock brakes and anti-theft devices, it can generate more discounts.
If your teen enrolls in a qualified driver safety or defensive driving course, your family can often get a discount when the teen successfully completes the course.
Whatever approach you take, shepherding your teen drivers into a safe seat behind the wheel can, like may moments in raising them, be a great learning experience…for all of you.
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Jeff Davidson is a writer with Reply! and he brings more than 25 years consulting and freelance writing experience and work in all areas of the car and famiy insurance industry. For more help, see his article on Teen drivers and insurance.