Teen Drivers: Navigating Drivers Ed and Insurance
Guest post by Anna Blair
If you have a teenager, you’re likely already thinking about them starting to drive. As scary as that may be, you’re probably also dreading making the call to let your insurance company know, and the increased premiums that will surely follow. Fortunately, you can do some things to minimize those costs. Then you just might enjoy having a new errand runner in the house.
Do I Really Have To Tell The Insurance Company?
It may be tempting to just lay low about your upcoming teen driver. What’s the harm in not telling them? First, they may actually be a step ahead of you and already know. They can, and do, use information you already provided to them about your children’s ages and public records to anticipate your kids approaching driving age. They may reach out to you first to talk about adding them to your policy.
Another reason you don’t want to postpone adding the new driver to your policy may be obvious. You need to be sure coverage actually includes them. If they’re not covered and involved in an accident, you could quickly find yourself liable in a financial and legal mess involving medical bills, property damage, etc.
When Do I Really Need to Add Them?
Obviously, you should talk with your insurance agent to add your new driver when the time comes. Exactly when you need to let them know depends on the state you live in. Most states don’t require drivers with only a learner’s permit to be on your policy in order to be covered. Once they do become a licensed driver, they will need to be added to your policy or start their own. However, state laws on the matter do vary. It’s best to check with your insurance company to be sure you do it right.
Minimize the Pain
It’s no secret risk substantially affects your insurance premiums. Insurance companies definitely consider a new, inexperienced driver as high risk. You can typically expect a premium increase when adding a new driver to a policy with no other changes. However, there may be many opportunities to keep your costs down. Every policy is different because so many factors affect the pricing, but you may be able to keep your premiums from going up much, or even at all, if you take advantage of discounts that you may not have even known about.
Some states require new drivers to complete a driver’s education course but many insurance companies will offer discounts for completing those classes whether required or not. Completing optional defensive driving classes may also qualify you for additional discounts. Many insurance companies realize that extra training can also benefit experienced drivers, so they’ll extend additional savings to them, too.
Shopping around for quotes from other insurance companies is a simple way to potentially save a lot of money. If you’ve been with your insurance agent for a long time and have a good relationship, you may feel too loyal to consider switching. However, many insurance companies offer easy, online quotes and prices can vary drastically from one to another. You just might find that another company can save you a substantial amount of money.
Changing Coverage and Deductibles
You may also consider making changes to your policy coverage levels. Decreasing liability limits, increasing deductibles and other changes can significantly decrease your premiums. When possible, canceling comprehensive and collision coverage altogether on a vehicle is a sure way to receive major savings on your premiums.
However, this should be very carefully considered and it’s not always an option. For example, if you have a loan on the vehicle, the lender will require that coverage to stay in effect. It’s best to discuss all of these changes with your agent first to make sure you fully understand how they can affect you and to ensure that your policy will still meet the state’s auto insurance requirements.
Other potential discount opportunities include good grades, multi-vehicle, and bundling with other policies such as homeowner’s, renter’s, life, etc. Some insurance companies are now offering extra savings if you elect to plug in a device to your car that monitors driving habits and rewards safe drivers with additional discounts.
Be sure to review your entire policy to catch any duplicate services you may already have elsewhere, such as roadside assistance. Vehicles still under factory warranty are often covered under a roadside assistance plan. Or you may have coverage under an automobile club membership, wireless phone plan, or through your bank or credit union.
Choosing the Right Teen Drivers Ed Program
The privilege and freedom of driving a motor vehicle comes with great responsibility. Therefore, it makes sense that you’d want your teen to complete the most effective method of learning to drive safely. The teen driver licensing process varies greatly by state. Be sure to look into what you must do to satisfy your state’s requirements. Some states require a formal drivers ed program, while others do not.
Parents must also decide if they will instruct their teen or if they want to use a professional driving instructor. The main point when considering using a driving instructor is the cost. When the parent is thinking about taking on the instruction, they should think about their experience, teaching ability, comfort level, and, of course, patience.
One can make a strong case for all teens to complete a drivers ed program, whether required by the state or not. As experienced drivers, parents are often very capable of teaching the rules of the road and behind the wheel instruction and observation. But a comprehensive drivers ed program can ensure teens learns all topics in great detail. Another wonderful incentive is that many insurance companies offer discounts to their clients who have completed a teen drivers ed program.
Online drivers ed programs make the process easy and keep the costs relatively low. There are many drivers ed programs to choose from. Just like many other products, they can vary in quality, user experience and customer support. Do your research on any that you are considering by checking the company’s reputation, reviews, satisfaction policies as you would with other products and services. If you live in a state that requires drivers ed, it’s vital to ensure the company and program are approved before beginning.
Anna Blair is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. She loves guacamole, Roman history, and her 2-year old Doberman Pinscher named Catullus..
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