Young Drivers and Car Insurance
Learning to drive is an exciting time in your life, but it’s also a time for new responsibilities. Most states allow those learning to drive to get a permit as young as 15 years old. Many of these licenses are restricted, requiring the teen to drive with a parent or guardian (over age 25) who has a valid driver’s license. Not only do you need to follow your state laws regarding restricted scope of a learner’s permit, you also need to follow state laws regarding insurance to drive a car.
Although a learning permit is not a license, it does give legal permission to drive a car under certain conditions. All states require that drivers maintain a minimum level of car insurance or proof of financial responsibility…including those drivers with learner’s permits. If a teen with a learner’s permit get a citation or fails to provide proof of insurance or financial responsibility, the state may revoke the learner’s permit and prevent the issuance of a driver’s license until the teen turns 18 year old.
Car insurance policies insure the named drivers in your household, unless they are specifically excluded (have their own car/insurance.) If your teen is not listed on your policy, you should contact your insurance company as to how and when drivers with a learner’s permit is added. Each car insurance company may handle adding a learner’s permit driver differently. If you already have a car insurance policy, some companies will require that the learner’s permit driver be added to your policy as a new driver before that person starts driving. Some of these insurance companies will not charge extra to add on a learner’s permit driver until they get a license.
However, other car insurance companies will allow the learner’s permit driver to be a “permissive” driver until that driver gets their driver’s license. But be careful – you do not want to find out there is some doubt as to whether your car insurance will pay for an accident for a learner’s permit driver. There also could be situations which are too complicated to have your insurance company answer over the phone, especially questions that will determine if there is insurance coverage for your learner’s permit driver or not. For example, if your teen driver lives in two households (mom & dad are divorced with shared custody), it is likely that each parent has two different insurance company policies. If their learner’s permit driver is in an accident and is not specifically listed on either policy, the two insurance companies may disagree as to who should provide coverage for the learner’s permit driver’s accident. Be proactive and discuss car insurance issues with your former spouse before your teen starts driving. Determine which parent is adding the driver on their insurance policy and follow through by informing that car insurance company of the need to add the learner’s permit driver to the designated parent’s policy.
If there is no insurance policy which to add a learner’s permitted driver, you will need to get your own car insurance. Although this is an unusual situation, there are insurance companies that sell this kind of policy. However, if you are under 18 years old, you are legally considered a minor. The law generally considers minors to be incapable of forming a binding contract. Your insurance company will likely require that you have an adult to sign the policy with you, at least until you turn 18 years old.