When Should You Get Car Insurance for Your Teen?

By Insurance.com Posted : 09/17/2004

When should you buy car insurance for your son or daughter who is old enough to drive? Don't dawdle about getting auto insurance for your teenager. The sooner, the better, according to Nicole Mahrt of the American Insurance Association and the Hartford's Jane Fernald.

"As soon as he or she gets a license, add your child to your policy," advises Mahrt. "It's important to make sure your children have auto insurance, because statistics show that teenage drivers are more prone to accidents than those in most other age groups."

Jane Fernald, assistant vice president of underwriting operations at The Hartford, says you should get car insurance for your teen "as soon as he or she starts to drive." Fernald advises parents to notify their insurance provider as soon as their teen receives his or her learner's permit and again when a valid driver's license has been issued. In most states, continued Fernald, "a driver with a learner's permit is afforded coverage under the automobile policy of parents or guardians and (coverage) extends to the registered vehicle that the learner is driving."

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American Insurance Association Vice President Dave Snyder says that he has had both of his children under his policy for several years, including the time while they were attending colleges away from home. "We have them listed as insured (aka occasional drivers)," says Snyder. "If you cover them under your policy, they'll probably have more coverage than they could afford if they had to buy their own policies on their own."

Here are four key tips for car insurance protection for your teens.

  • Compare rates for adding your teenager to your car insurance policy versus purchasing a separate policy. It could cost less to have your child on your policy. You could also qualify for a multi-driver or multi-car discount if your children or their cars are covered by your auto insurance company.
  • See if you qualify for a Distant Student discount from your auto insurance company, if your teenager is attending a college that is far enough away from home and leaves the vehicle at home.
  • Encourage your child to earn good grades and take a Driver Improvement Course, on top of the Drivers Education course they may have taken. Most car insurance companies provide discounts if your child receives all "B's" in school and for completing state approved driving courses.
  • Serve as a good role model, because children learn by example. Your teenager's actions may reflect the way you act behind the wheel, so demonstrate good driving and safety habits. These include always using your seat belt, avoiding agressive driving and eliminating distractions such as cell phones, loud music and anything else that takes your eyes or attention away from driving.

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