Is my child covered under my car insurance?

Your child is covered under your car insurance if you list them on your policy. Most children don't qualify for permissive user status.

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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: Jun 2, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • In order for a Personal Auto Policy to provide coverage, the person operating the vehicle at the time must be a listed driver or a permissive user
  • Not everyone qualifies for permissive user status
  • Most companies won’t provide permissive user coverage to a child of the policyholder

Auto insurance can be expensive when you have licensed children in the home. It’s for that reason that no parent looks forward to picking up the phone and adding their son or daughter to their insurance policy.

Unfortunately, choosing not to make that phone call could lead to uncovered losses and ultimately to financial devastation.

If you’re under the assumption that your child is covered under your car insurance policy, it’s time to do some research.

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Is my child licensed to drive?

In most states, teens can be issued a provisional permit somewhere between the age of 15 and 17.

The purpose of the permit is to give young drivers the opportunity to develop skills while they navigate the road under the supervision of a licensed adult.

If your son has a permit and not a license, he technically isn’t yet licensed to drive.

In a majority of states, insurance carriers will extend coverage to a teen with their permit without charging.

To rate a driver, most companies need for that driver to have a license. Also, teens are being supervised and are under some very serious driving restrictions when they hold a learner’s permit.

These restrictions are enough to reduce risk so that permitted drivers are automatically covered at no extra charge. It’s best that you verify your company’s policies before assuming coverage will be afforded.

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Is my child over the age of 14?

Another important factor to consider is whether or not your company knows about your child. Surprising to some, companies want to know about everyone who lives in your home over the age of 14 even when they aren’t licensed.

This helps with underwriting and assessing the risk that will present itself in the future.

If you have a teen in your home, make sure you that you list your teen as a family member in your home. As defined by auto insurance policies, a family member is someone related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

Under a Personal Auto Policy, a family member is insured under the policy as long as it doesn’t appear that they are intentionally being hidden.

If you tell your agent about a young family member in the home, the company will follow-up with you to ensure they are rated when they need to be.

Does my child live in my home?

If your son is licensed and they live in your home, he needs to be listed under the policy. This is because there are underwriting guidelines that state that all household members who regularly or occasionally drive the vehicle must be listed on the policy.

If your son is a resident of your home and is licensed to drive, they’ll need to be listed.

There are very few scenarios where it’d be considered wise not to have your child listed as a primary or occasional driver.

Does my child have access to my cars?

Just because your son is licensed to drive doesn’t mean that you want him to drive your vehicles.

If you don’t allow your son to drive your treasured vehicles and you don’t want to get stuck paying for coverage you’ll never need, you do have the option to exclude him from your policy.

When you exclude a driver, they won’t receive any coverage if they operate the covered vehicles and get into a loss.

In exchange for reducing risk, the company won’t charge you for the high-risk driver living in the home. Since no coverage is afforded, you should only fill out a driver exclusion form when there’s no chance that your son will operate your vehicle.

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Does my child have their own car insurance?

If your son has his own vehicle registered in his own name, there’s a good chance you can name him as a deferred operator under your policy to protect yourself and still save money.

A deferred operator is a person who has their own active auto insurance but who is listed as living in the home.

When your son has their own insurance, their primary coverage will take effect first to pay for damages that he is liable for. Then, if the coverage doesn’t pay for all of the damages, the vehicle’s policy will pay. This is because liability coverage follows the vehicle.

Have I given my child permission to drive my vehicle?

Permissive user status can get very complicated when you’re trying to understand how coverage works. Many policies will extend coverage to a driver who isn’t listed under a policy if the owner has given the driver permission.

Many policies will extend coverage to a driver who isn’t listed under a policy if the owner has given the driver permission.

Unfortunately, not everyone fits under the broad blanket of permissive use.

Your son needs permission to drive if you want a loss to be covered, but there are some exceptions to the permissive user rule:

  • The driver is a household member
  • The driver is not licensed to drive
  • The driver is under the age of 25
  • The driver has been given permission to drive the vehicle regularly

Is my child away at college?

If your child is away at college, they probably still consider your address their primary residence. If this is the case, you should let the insurer know you have a student away at college so that they can be rated.

They won’t have a dramatic effect on premiums because they will receive a special designation and credit.

If your teen needs to be listed, be sure to compare rates to find the best deal when insuring an inexperienced operator.

The best way to compare rates when adding a teen driver is to use an online insurance comparison tool.

After you’ve quoted the rates through several companies, choose a reputable option with the best rates for young drivers who are automatically considered high-risk.

Enter your zip code in our FREE tool below to compare car insurance rates instantly!

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Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

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