Do teenage drivers need car insurance?

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Here's what you need to know...
  • A junior driver’s license is usually issued to drivers under the age of 18.
  • Junior driver’s license holders are not required to have their own policies.
  • A child carrying a junior driver’s license is required to be insured, and thus must be added to a parent’s policy.

If you’re the parent of a teenager just learning to drive, you may be wondering whether or not junior driver’s 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 that, is a normal part of being a parent.

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Before answering the question of junior driver’s 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 is 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 driver’s 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 their license at 16, individuals may drive up to two years 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 driver’s 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 driver’s license holders need their own car insurance policies?

  • Teenagers do not need to carry their own policy – 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.
  • Junior driver’s license holders must be insured – Most states only grant the liberty not being added to parent’s policy 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.
  • Parents who are separated or divorced are not exempt from ensuring their child is insured – 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 themselves the best way to provide insurance for their child.

Whatever they decide, the child must be covered by the insurance policy of one of his parents or an approved guardian.

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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.

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 and 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 regular license; that will help bring the cost down as well.

If you’re the parent of a junior driver’s license holder, start your search for better car insurance quotes by typing in your ZIP code now!

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