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Your Family & Insurance

Car Insurance & Teens - When is the Right Time?

Got teenage children? Eventually you'll need to ask yourself the question, "when should I buy car insurance for my son or daughter who is old enough to drive?"

"As soon as he or she gets a license, add your child to your policy," contends Nicole Mahrt, western region public affairs director for the American Insurance Association. "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."

"As soon as he or she starts to drive," answers Jane Fernald, assistant vice president of underwriting operations at The Hartford. 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."

American Insurance Association's 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, AIA vice president and assistant general counsel, in Washington, D.C. "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."

The Insurance Information Institute offers tips on car insurance protection for teenagers. Here are some examples:
  • If your child is attending college at least 100 miles from home, and leaves the vehicle at home, your auto insurer may offer a discount for the period in which your child is living away at school.
  • Adding your teenager to your auto insurance policy costs less than having your child purchase his or her own policy. You could qualify for a multi-policy discount if your child's own car is covered by your auto insurance company.
  • " Encourage your child to earn good grades and take a driver training course. Most insurers will provide discounts if your child is at least all "B's" in school and for completing recognized driving courses.
  • " Set a good example. Your teenage driver may mirror your actions behind the wheel, so be sure you demonstrate excellent driving habits at all times. That means using your seat belt, not drinking and driving, and avoiding distractions such as operating cell phones while driving.

For more information, on teen driving, log on to the web sites of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Department of Transportation.