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learners permits & car insurance

A learners permit is a major step that leads to a host of lifestyle adjustments. (Oh, and it's a pretty big deal for your kid, too.) Find out how permits work and how adding a brand-new driver can affect your car insurance policy.

Training wheels for new drivers

smartphone

Most teens are adept multi-taskers. In fact, yours are probably updating their statuses, watching YouTube, and texting at this very moment. That can be great for productivity, but it's not so great for responsible driving.

State licensing authorities recognized that teens bring unique challenges to driving safety (we've all been there), and in 1996 Florida lawmakers mandated the first Graduated Driver License program (GDL). Since then, almost every state has adopted this tiered system to ensure teen drivers get enough training before earning their full-fledged driving privileges. The first step of the GDL is the learners permit.

About learners permits

The minimum age for getting a learners permit varies from state to state. For example, Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota go low at 14; whereas Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania set the bar at 16. Each state also decides how long drivers must stay in the permit stage before moving on to the next step. Most states (plus D.C.) have a permit period (aka holding period) of 6 months, while others make it 9 or even 12.

Young driver training

Most states require at least 30 hours of classroom time and completion of vision and written tests to qualify for a permit. Then 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training and a road test are usually required to earn a license.

Teen driving restrictions

In most states, learners permits carry similar driving restrictions, such as mandated parental guidance, hourly limits, and cell phone bans. Following the holding period, some states require an intermediate license, which still carries some restrictions like nighttime driving curfews. Some states also limit the number of passengers a new driver can cart around at a time.

Keep in mind that every state is different, so if you need more info, visit your state's official DMV website or check our state-specific guide.

Adding your newly permitted teen to your insurance policy

In most states, Esurance typically extends your policy's coverage to a new teen driver automatically. It never hurts to make sure, so feel free to give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

How a permitted driver can affect your car insurance

Ta-da! Your teen's been taught, trained, and tested. Now, as part of joining the esteemed steering-wheel society, your permitted driver needs insurance.

In most cases, Esurance allows parents' policies to cover learning drivers for no extra premium until the new driver gets an official license. And as a result of this "automatic" coverage, your insurance premium may not go up at all.

car accident

If your teen causes an accident while driving with a learners permit, you (and your policy) could be deemed liable. If this concerns you, take a look at your liability coverage limits. You can change your limits at any time and find out how it could influence your rate by calling 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

And mom, dad, remember: this too shall pass.

Related links

Young driver FAQs
New drivers come with a number of question marks. Find answers (and a little peace of mind) here.

State insurance info
Find out about the graduated licensing program in your state.