Car Insurance for a Child If You Are Divorced

Both divorced parents may be responsible for obtaining and paying for their teen driver's car insurance. If the teen drives vehicles at both residences, both parents may be required to add the child to their car insurance policies.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: May 27, 2022

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Here's what you need to know

  • Factors like the parents’ income, the child’s primary residence, and the insurance company’s policy requirements may determine who is responsible for teen car insurance in a divorce
  • Car insurance for teenagers can be expensive because they are considered high-risk drivers
  • Discounts and safe driving apps can reduce their rates and help them stay safe behind the wheel

It can be challenging to co-parent children in a divorce. When parents divorce, they have to work harder to be on the same page with decisions concerning their child, especially when it comes to teenage drivers. 

Questions often arise about car insurance for a child if you’re divorced. For example, which parent has to obtain insurance coverage for their teen motorist? How much does it cost to insure a teen driver? Are both parents legally responsible for their young driver? We answer those questions here and also provide tips to help divorced parents work together to teach their teens safe driving habits. 

Which divorced parent is responsible for their teen’s car insurance?

Most insurance companies require that all drivers who live in the household be added to a family policy as secondary drivers, including young drivers between 15-20 years old. But if you are divorced, or getting divorced, and have a teen driver, who’s responsible for car insurance?

The answer depends on what the car insurance company requires and what the divorce decree says about which parent is financially responsible for child-related expenses.

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What are the insurance company’s requirements for divorced parents covering a teen driver?

Which divorced parent covers a teen driver may depend on the insurance company. Your car insurance provider may have rules that say the parent who has primary residential custody is responsible for securing coverage for the child, especially if the teen’s primary vehicle is at that residence.

But what about auto insurance for divorced parents with shared custody? If parents have joint custody or equal parenting time and the teen has access to vehicles at both residences, both parents may be required to add the child to their respective policies.

Which parent pays for their teen’s car insurance?

The question of which ex-spouse is required to obtain car insurance for a child is different from the question of which parent is financially responsible for paying for that coverage. The answer to who pays depends on several things, including income, assets, and expenses. 

If divorced parents have similar incomes, a divorce judge could split the cost of teen car insurance equally. On the other hand, if one parent makes a lot more than the other, the court may require that the higher wage-earning parent pay a large portion of the child’s car insurance expenses.

Remember that factors other than parental income can impact who pays for their teen’s car insurance costs. For example, suppose your ex bought your child a car without your consent. In that case, the court may say your ex is financially responsible for your teen’s car insurance and costs relating to gas, vehicle maintenance, and driving classes.

It’s important to work with your ex-spouse to see if you can agree on who is financially responsible for what.

What does it cost to insure teen drivers?

It can be expensive to insure teen drivers. Teen coverage rates are often high because they have less experience driving and engage in high-risk behavior, like texting while driving and not wearing seatbelts. But, don’t worry. You and your ex can find the best car insurance by age with a little online research.

Also, there are a variety of discounts and programs that can help lower the cost of car insurance for teenagers.

Most auto insurance companies have student driver discounts for people under 25 who are enrolled full-time in high school or college and maintain a certain minimum grade point average. Many insurance companies also offer discounts for drivers who enroll in a defensive driving course or safe driver training programs.

There may even be discounts for membership in a fraternity or sorority, the military, professional associations, and alumni associations.

These programs and discounts can add up to significant savings on teen car insurance, sometimes as much as 15% for eligible teen drivers.

Finally, don’t forget to let your adjuster know if your teen goes off to college and leaves the car at home. Rates should decrease if the teen’s car usage goes down significantly

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Can parents be held liable for teen drivers?

Parents can always be liable for the acts of minors through a legal theory called “vicarious liability.” What makes a parent vicariously liable for their child’s actions depends on state law. Nonetheless, parents should be aware they potentially could be held responsible for what their minor-aged motorist does behind the wheel.

That’s why it’s so important to get auto insurance for your teen driver. You want to make sure you and your child are covered against personal liability if your teen causes a car accident.

Are named exclusions a good idea for teen drivers? 

A named exclusion is a written endorsement that you may be able to give to your car insurance provider that says you will not permit your teen to drive any of your cars at any time. Some parents feel that a named exclusion is a good way to save because you won’t have to pay for auto coverage for your teen. 

Named exclusions, however, present a risk if your child somehow gets access to the car and gets into an accident while driving. If you have a named exclusion for your teen attached to your policy, your insurance provider has the contractual right to deny an accident claim. In that case, you would be on the hook for personal injury and property damages.

It’s important to note that some carriers have restrictions for named exclusions. For example, some providers require that the keys to all vehicles be locked away or kept at least 100 miles away from the teen’s primary residence.

How can I help my teen be a safe driver?

Divorced or not, parents should be concerned about their young driver behind the wheel. The best thing you and your ex-spouse can do to help your teen be a better driver is to be upfront about teen drivers’ facts and statistics and enforce consistent driving rules for both households.

The stats on teen driving can be scary. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teen drivers have a high rate of fatal car accidents. In addition, more than 200,000 young drivers are injured in car accidents in a typical year.

The leading causes of teen-related auto wrecks are lack of experience, distracted driving, and alcohol use. Statistics also show that in approximately 25% of teen car accidents, alcohol was involved. Most concerning is that almost half of all teen motorists in accidents were not wearing seatbelts.

These statistics are troubling, but there are things you and your teen can do to improve their safe driving habits.

First, you and your ex-spouse must set up consistent rules about driving. Rules shouldn’t be laxer at one parent’s house. Here are some basic teen driving rules that divorced parents can agree on:

  • Everyone must wear seat belts
  • No texting while driving
  • No blasting music
  • Limit the number of passengers
  • No drinking and driving

Divorced parents should also look into smart apps that are designed to monitor what their kids are doing behind the wheel and help them drive better. Here are some examples of how and what safe driving apps can offer new motorists:

  • Text disabling
  • Location tracking
  • Email notifications when the car exceeds a certain speed
  • Telematics, which monitors driving habits using GPS and onboard diagnostics to record real-time driving data on things like stopping, cornering, and speeding

Ask your auto insurance company if it offers safe driving apps. Not only will they help your child’s driving, but using these apps may help lower your rates.

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The Bottom Line: Work With Your Ex When It Comes to Car Insurance for Your Teen

When it comes to your child’s safety behind the wheel, divorced parents have no better incentive to work together. Try to reach agreements on who will add the teen to their policy and how the costs of insurance, and other car-related expenses, will be handled. 

Next, both parents should ask their carriers about teen driver discounts and shop to find the best coverage at the lowest rates. Finally, divorced parents must establish consistent rules and talk with their teen drivers about driving responsibly. Smart apps can reduce the risk of accidents and lower car insurance costs for your child.

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