Teen Driving and Insurance: 9 Things to Know

By: Mary Steeb, CISR, CPIW

Mary loves to explain insurance in terms that her customers can understand so that they can make informed decisions about their coverage.

Teen driving is no one’s favorite topic. In fact, according to a 2016 poll, parents worry about their kids behind the wheel more than any other issue—including drugs, alcohol, or academic performance.

What can you do to support your teenage driver and keep your auto insurance rates in check? The following facts may help…

1. New drivers don’t need to be added to your policy while operating under a learner’s permit.

With a learner’s permit in hand, your child can practice driving under your supervision and under your insurance policy. Upon earning a license, however, he or she must be added as a driver on each household member’s policy. In Massachusetts, that policy must include four different types of auto coverage:

  • Bodily Injury to Others
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
  • Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto
  • Damage to Someone Else’s Property

Massachusetts sets its own minimum coverage levels, but we recommend limits of $100K/$300K for “Bodily Injury to Others” and $100K for “Property Damage.”  Adding certain optional coverages is also a good idea. Collision, comprehensive (for non-collision-based incidents, like a tree that falls on your car), towing and labor are some common examples. Ask your Massachusetts auto insurance agent to spell these options out for you, and price your policy at different coverage levels.

2. You have to list your teen as a household driver, even if he has his own insurance policy.

Some parents choose to purchase a separate auto insurance policy for a teen driver, even though this arrangement typically costs more. One possible advantage to keeping the policies separate? If your teen gets into an accident, your rate won’t be affected. Again, ask your insurance agent to price out both options, and explain the pros and cons.

Keep in mind though, even if your child has his own policy, he still needs to be listed as a driver on your policy.  Failure to list a household member as a driver can result in the denial of a claim.

3. You can offset a higher insurance rate by raising your deductible.

If you’re dreading the spike in your insurance bill that a teenage driver will create, you may want to consider raising your deductible. You’ll have to pay more out of pocket for small dings and scrapes, but you may wind up paying less in the long run.

4. A safer car could mean a lower rate, even for a teen driver.

The type of car your teen drives could make a significant difference in his or her insurance rate. Generally, the cheapest cars to insure are those that have the fewest claims associated with them, or those that are the easiest/least expensive to repair. If you’re in the market for a new or used car, it’s worthwhile to compare insurance costs for different makes/models. Forbes recently profiled the cheapest cars to insure.

5. Some teen drivers are eligible for discounts.

Insurance discounts are often available for good students and for those who completing defensive driving courses, like the training offered through the In Control Family Foundation. Safety Insurance, for example, awards In Control program graduates with a five percent discount for the life of their auto policies.

6. Your insurance company needs to know if your teen is headed to college.

If your teen driver is going away to college (100 miles or more), and will not be taking a car, you should alert your insurance carrier. In most cases your rate will go down considerably, and your son or daughter will still be covered when he or she comes home for weekends or school breaks.

7. Tickets matter. Encourage your teen to avoid them.

It’s not just collisions that affect auto insurance rates. Your entire driving record is open to scrutiny—and that includes tickets. In Massachusetts, the bad driver point system is called “surchargable points;” it’s based on the state’s Safe Driver Insurance Program (SDIP). Every moving violation—speeding, running a red light, etc.—adds a surchargable event to your teen’s record, which then affects your insurance bill. On the upside, a clean driving record eventually results in reduced insurance costs and (potentially) eligibility for accident forgiveness.

8. Car accidents are still the number one cause of death among teenagers.

You can’t always be guiding your teen from the passenger seat, but you can enforce your own set of road rules to prevent distracted driving and instill good habits. In fact, AAA offers a free, Parent-Teen Driving Agreement that any family can download and review before handing over the car keys.

9. You don’t have to wait in line at the registry, when processing plates for your teen…

On top of everything else that comes with insuring new drivers, losing half your day at the DMV is not a ton of fun. That’s why we’re proud to provide in-house registry services for things like new license plate issuance and plate transfer.

So when your teen is ready to roll, please reach out to C&S for personalized advice and auto insurance quotes. We’ve been covering Massachusetts families (and their teenage drivers) since 1959.