Do I Have to Add My Teenager to My Car Insurance?

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The excitement your teenage son or daughter feels when they’re able to start driving might be the exact opposite of what you’re feeling as a parent: nervous. They have more responsibility and freedom, which is an understandable cause for apprehension.

It might bring you some relief to know that your teen could be fully covered under your car insurance policy. Learn when and why you must add your teenager to your car insurance and how your child is covered below.

Do I Have to Add My Teenager to My Car Insurance?

Yes, you’ll have to add your teenager to your car insurance if they’re living with you or driving your car primarily. Every driver must have insurance before legally taking the wheel. Some states and companies will expect you to add your teen driver to your policy when they get their permit, while other times, you’ll need to wait until they get their license.

Car insurance is required for every driver and is governed by state law. Each state (except New Hampshire and Virginia) requires minimum liability insurance before you can legally drive a vehicle. Also, most states’ Departments of Motor Vehicles require car owners to have insurance before registering their vehicle.

The teen has the option of either being added to a parent’s policy or getting their own coverage. The most common course of action is adding the teen to your plan. Teens usually don’t have their own car right off the bat, so they’re driving yours. Your insurance company needs to know who drives your cars.

Also, by adding a teenager to your car insurance, they get your level of coverage from the start when they drive your car or a car you own given to them. If a teen purchases and tries to register their own vehicle, they’d need their own coverage, which would be very costly. A teen seeking their own car insurance will pay very high rates.

Why Does My Teenager Need Insurance to Drive My Car?

Teenage drivers need car insurance coverage to drive your car because it’s illegal to drive without insurance. All drivers need at least liability insurance to operate a vehicle legally.

The Insurance Information Institute reported that the average auto liability claim for property damage was $3,841, and the average auto liability claim for bodily injury was $15,785 in 2018. If you or your teen didn’t have insurance to cover these costs, you would both be fully on the hook for damages you cause.

Few people could comfortably afford such expenses, not to mention repairs and medical costs for yourself and your own vehicle. Car insurance is mandated to protect yourself and other drivers on the road.

Additionally, teens are found to be much more likely to get into accidents and fatal accidents than other age demographics. They speed more often and drive at night more often than most, further reasons why adding a teenager to car insurance is expected.

When Do You Add a Teenage Driver to Insurance?

You can notify your insurance company that you’ll have a teen driver before they start driving. If you don’t take this option, you should notify your provider as soon as they start driving your car. This is usually when they get their learners’ permit, but be sure to do it before they start driving entirely on their own.

When you get an auto policy, insurers usually ask you to list all drivers in your household. Online quoting tools often have options to add a child who isn’t yet licensed. This way, a company can be aware of when your teen becomes driving age in your house before it even happens.

If you don’t remember or realize to add your teen when getting your policy, you should notify your insurance company when they start driving. Most young drivers use a parent’s car, at least at first. Your teen must be listed on your policy if they regularly drive your vehicle to receive coverage.

You should contact your auto insurer when your teen gets their learner’s permit if your carrier doesn’t already know your teen has started driving. Some companies will recognize them as regular drivers when they get a permit, while other carriers will wait until they get their license.

According to Fox Business, many companies in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia expect you to list teens with learner’s permits on your auto insurance.

How to Add My Son or Daughter to My Car Insurance

You can easily add your son or daughter to your car insurance by calling your provider. Many companies will have a way of adding a driver online, too.

As we mentioned, you can typically add a driver to your plan when getting a quote. You may even be able to list them while they have their learners permit or before they start driving altogether. Then, when they do take the wheel, you don’t need to take any action.

If you need to add a driver, just call your agent or provider. They will then explain the effect it will have on your premiums. Adding a new driver, especially a young one, will raise your rates.

The extent your car insurance premiums will rise with a teen on the plan will vary by company, but don’t be surprised if you must pay hundreds more every month, totaling over a thousand more annually.

How Is My Child Covered Under My Car Insurance?

Before they reach driving age, your child is always covered as a passenger in your car for possible medical expenses. When they start driving, your teen has the same coverage levels and deductibles that you do as long as they’re listed on your policy.

If you have only liability coverage to protect against property damage and bodily injury that you may cause to others, then this is the coverage your child will have when they start driving under your insurance.

Many drivers have full coverage. If you’ve leased or financed a car, your lender will require you to have it. The same protections of full coverage, meaning collision insurance and comprehensive insurance, apply to your child when driving, too, as long as they’re added to your policy.

Car insurance typically follows the car, not the driver. This is why your coverage can extend to someone who you let borrow your car, often called permissive use. But, if someone is going to be driving your car regularly, like your teenager, they need to be added to your policy.

Insurance companies are in the business of calculating risk. They set your premiums based on the level of risk they are taking by covering you. To accurately assess your risk, they need to know who will regularly drive your car. 

Think about it like this. Your car insurance is meant to protect you and your vehicle financially from damage you can encounter on the road. Your carrier needs to know all the drivers of your car to protect you sufficiently. If you don’t add a consistent driver of your car to your policy, like your teen, they typically won’t be covered because your insurer won’t be aware of the risk.

What Happens If I Don’t Add My Teenager to My Car Insurance?

“Hiding” your teen from your auto insurance company is always a bad idea. If your teenager causes an accident or any sort of claim, your carrier could deny you coverage if they didn’t know you had a teen driver. This means you and your teen would be personally liable for all damages. In some cases, an insurer will cover the claim from a teen driver of a policyholder they didn’t know about, but they’ll recoup the costs from you over time.

And, of course, a teen driving without any insurance is illegal. If caught, they can get their license and registration suspended, which is a particularly damaging start to your driving life. Also, once they’re allowed to drive again, such a penalty would make it even more expensive than it already would be for this young driver to get the needed insurance coverage. They would immediately be classified as high-risk.

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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.

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