If you’re the parent of a young adult just learning to drive, you may be wondering whether or not junior drivers license holders need car insurance.
You might also be wondering how much it will cost and whether or not you should require your child to contribute a portion of it.
If so, you’re not alone. Teaching our children to drive, and all the fears and questions that go along with it, is a normal part of being a parent.
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Before answering the question of junior drivers license holders and insurance, it is important to note that every state in the union, but New Hampshire as of 2011, requires some form of car insurance coverage. Even New Hampshire drivers are liable for any damages they cause.
Most states mandate that insurance be purchased from a company that is licensed to provide coverage in that state. However, there are a handful of states that allow drivers to be self-insured if they can prove they have the financial resources to cover the average claim.
What is considered a junior drivers license?
Although regulations vary from one state to the next, a junior driver’s license is usually issued to drivers under the age of 18. In states where kids can get their permits at age 15, and then take a road test at 16, that may mean up to two years driving with a junior license. A small number of states are bit more restrictive, mandating the junior license until age 21.
In addition to the various restrictions placed on junior drivers license holders, the need for car insurance is also a legal reality.
The only question in providing such insurance is who will pay for it and through whose policy the junior driver will be covered.
In a culture that is seeing a steady increase in split families, the answers to these questions are becoming more and more important. You must know your car insurance options as a parent of a young driver.
Do junior drivers license holders need their own car insurance polices?
At this time, it appears that no states require junior drivers license holders to have their own separate, distinct policies. Some states don’t even require that such drivers be specifically added to a parent’s policy until age 21.
However, most states only grant that liberty while a young driver still is operating on a learner’s permit. Once the young driver earns his junior license he will almost certainly be required to be added to the policy of his parents.
In the case of a split household – where mother and father are either separated or divorced – the question of whose policy will cover the child can be a sticky issue.
It is the responsibility of parents to seek the advice of their individual insurance companies, as well as the court system where appropriate, and then decide among themselves the best way to provide insurance for their child.
In either case, the child must be covered through the insurance policy of one of his parents or an approved guardian.
What happens if I don’t add my child to my insurance policy?
In a legal sense car insurance companies provide coverage for individual automobiles, but in a practical sense, this is not quite true. The reality of car insurance is that coverage is provided for individual drivers and their individual cars. That’s why driving history and risk assessment are part of determining insurance rates.
Therefore, if you fail to add your child to your insurance policy the provider may refuse to pay a claim incurred by the actions of that child.
As a further demonstration of how this works, consider what’s known in the industry as temporary car insurance. Temporary car insurance is purchased, among other reasons, to cover non-immediate family members, friends, or acquaintances who might borrow your car.
Insurance providers typically will not cover claims made by such drivers unless it can be documented they were operating your car on your behalf, doing something specifically for you. Car insurance for junior license holders works much the same way.
It is imperative that parents keep their car insurance companies informed of their teenage driver’s progress throughout the learning process. When a child earns his junior drivers license, car insurance becomes a must. Be sure to inform your provider at that time to have your child added your policy.
Fortunately, the cost is fairly inexpensive as long as the child remains in your home. Be sure to also inform your provider when the junior license is converted to a senior license; that will help bring the cost down as well.
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