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My Teen Got A Learner's Permit. Does He Need Car Insurance?

Updated: October 2019

If your teen has a learner's permit, it may be a good idea to add them to your car insurance policy. That way, if your learner driver is involved in a car accident, you could file a claim with your insurer, and your car insurance policy would typically help pay for related expenses.

Father teaching his teenage son how to drive a car.

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WHY INSURE A LEARNER DRIVER?

Let's say your son is learning to drive. You'll likely expect him to make a few mistakes as he learns the rules of the road. But, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) teen drivers are nearly four times more likely than drivers over the age of 20 to have an accident.

If a teen gets into a fender bender while they have a learner's permit, the consequences are the same as they would be for a fully licensed driver. He could still be found at fault for the accident, and he would still be responsible for repairs if he damages your car or another driver's car.

DO LEARNER'S PERMIT DRIVERS NEED THEIR OWN INSURANCE?

If your teen owns their own car — the title is solely in their name, and not jointly titled with a parent — they will likely need to buy their own separate car insurance policy. However, if the teen is driving the family vehicle or has a car that's co-owned by a parent, they can be added as a driver to the family auto insurance policy.

When your teen is ready to get their learner's permit, it's a good idea to notify your insurer. As a learner driver, they may be covered on your auto policy because they are using your vehicle with your permission. Once they get their driver's license, you'll likely need to add them as a listed operator on your policy.

Keep in mind that the rules on when to add your teen driver to your policy vary by insurer. So, you may want to talk to your agent sooner rather than later to go over your options.

Adding a teen driver to your policy can affect how much you pay for coverage, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Ask your agent if your insurer offers any teen driver discounts for good grades or for completing a driving safety course.

Additionally, the type of car your teen drives may affect your car insurance premium, according to the NAIC. If you're shopping for a new or used car for your son or daughter, you may want check out the IIHS' list of safe vehicles for teens. Each year, the organization puts out a list of "good" and "best" car choices for teen drivers, based on safety and price considerations, among other factors.

UNDERSTAND GRADUATED DRIVERS LICENSE (GDL) LAWS AND DEVELOP SAFE DRIVING HABITS

A learner's permit gives a person permission to drive under certain restrictions. And, every state now has graduated drivers license (GDL) programs, according the IIHS. States' GDL laws help teen drivers gain valuable experience as they develop into more mature drivers, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

The most important thing is to help keep your teen safe on the road. Know the rules in your state, and make sure your teen is adhering to them. The IIHS encourages parents to take an active role in helping teens develop safe driving habits by being a good role model, taking part in practice driving sessions and setting rules beyond the GDL regulations.

It can be an exciting and stressful time when your child starts learning to drive. With practice and insurance protection in place, you can help your teen driver learn the rules of the road. Talk to your insurance agent about when it's the right time to add your son or daughter to your auto policy.

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This content is for informational purposes only and may not be applicable to all situations.

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