The right insurance policy can make having a teen driver easier on your nerves and your wallet.
You might welcome the thought of your son or daughter earning a driver's license because it means you no longer have to act as a chauffeur. But at the same time, you'll have to shoulder the extra worry and expense that come bundled with a teen driver's license.
Although it can't erase them entirely, auto insurance can help ease both costs and concerns when it comes to having a teen driver, says Jeff Andry, Manager of the Personal Insurance Call Center at Regions Insurance. If you're a parent who will soon have a teen driver, optimize your car insurance coverage by asking these five questions.
1. When Will My Teen Start Driving?
Insurance carriers don't typically require teen drivers to be listed on their parents' policy until they've actually obtained a driver's license. So if your teen has or is about to get a learner's permit, you can probably leave your auto insurance coverage alone.
However, Andry still suggests calling your broker sooner rather than later. "If your son or daughter is getting his or her license, you want to know as early as possible what the impact may be to your policy and premiums," he says. "If you start the process early, it will be an easier transition."
2. How Can I Keep Our Insurance Rates Down?
Although you can open a new auto insurance policy for your child, it's typically more affordable to add them to yours. "A teenage driver is statistically more likely to be involved in an accident," Andry says. "As a result, teen drivers typically are more expensive to insure independently."
By adding your teen to your policy, he or she can take advantage of your credit history, driving record, and carrier loyalty. "All those things can entitle an experienced driver to discounts. When you add a teenage driver to your policy, he or she gets to take advantage of those discounts too," Andry says.
To further reduce costs, your teen might be eligible for discounted premiums if he or she maintains good grades, completes driver's education courses, and establishes a safe driving record once he or she has his or her license.
You can help with the latter by establishing safe-driving rules that prevent tickets and accidents. That might include requiring that there only be one friend in the vehicle at a time (especially if that's mandated by state law) and reminding your teen to refrain from texting while driving. "The more involved a parent is in helping their teen driver understand safety and responsibility, the more likely it is that their teen will drive safely and the parent's premiums will not increase," Andry says.
3. What Additional Insurance Coverage Will I Need?
At the minimum, make sure your teen has liability coverage, which is required in all states. "Keep that at a limit that protects your household from financial responsibility if your child has an accident where someone is injured," Andry says, adding that collision and comprehensive coverage that cover damage to your vehicle are optional. "If you have an older vehicle with a low value that you could afford to live without if it were totaled, you could consider not carrying comprehensive or collision to lower your costs."
4. What Car Will My Teen Drive?
The more it costs to repair or buy a car, the more it will cost to insure your teen to drive it.
"To keep insurance costs lower, stay away from sports and high-performance vehicles, as well as luxury autos," Andry says. "Your standard autos that have high-rated safety features are typically the best vehicles to be looking at for your teen driver." Consult the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Consumer Reports for vehicle suggestions.
5. Where Will My Teen Go to College?
If your teen stays on your auto insurance policy during college, the location of his or her school could impact your premiums.
"If your child goes to college far from home and does not plan to drive while away at school, you might be eligible for a reduction in his or her premium because he or she will only drive when home for the holidays or for the summer," Andry says.
At the end of the day, you may not be fully prepared for the ups and downs of having a teen driver. But having effective, affordable auto insurance can certainly help.