buying car insurance for teenagers

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*Sniff* … they grow up so fast. When your child is ready to turn in those toy wheels for a shiny new drivers license, it's time to think about car insurance (you can flip through the photo albums later). We'll explain the pros and cons of adding your child to your policy and give you a better understanding of your options.

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Typically, it's cheaper to add your new driver to your auto insurance, rather than purchasing them a pricey stand-alone policy. But there's a lot more expert advice where that came from.

Whatever you decide to do, we're here to make the transition from learners permit to drivers license as smooth as possible.

Get a quote or give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262) to talk through your options, or check out our FAQs on car insurance for teen drivers for more info.

adding a teen driver to your policy

With Esurance, it's easy to add a new driver to your policy. But is it the right move for you?

Possible pros

  • Extend your coverage options to your child: Your policy's coverages, limits, and deductibles will apply to your teen. You can customize your teen's car-protecting coverages, like comprehensive and collision, if you're adding a car.
  • Qualify for the Multi-Car discount: Esurance customers who insure more than one vehicle on the same policy can qualify for the money-saving Multi-Car discount.
  • Share your hard-earned policy perks: Discounts on your policy can help offset the potential cost of adding an inexperienced driver. And your clean driving record can do the same.

Possible cons

  • Increased auto insurance premium: According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), teen drivers have 3 times as many car accidents per mile as drivers 20 and older. And adding more risk to your policy (in the form of a newly minted driver) can increase what you pay for your policy.
  • Risking your policy perks: If your child causes an accident or gets multiple moving violations, you could see a rate increase and lose policy perks like the Good Driver discount or the Claim-Free discount. You might also have to pay out of pocket for damage your teen causes that exceed your coverage amounts. (For this reason, make sure you have adequate limits when insuring any freshly licensed family members.)

When does my teen need to get car insurance?

While laws vary from state to state, it's generally required that your teen have at least a learners permit before they can legally hit the road (with a licensed adult in the passenger seat). While they might not need their own insurance if they've only got a permit, it's wise to check with your insurer, just in case, to be sure of your local laws.

Once your new driver is officially licensed, most auto insurance companies will require that you either add them your policy or ensure they have their own coverage.

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buying your teen a separate auto insurance policy

For most parents, this is option B for a simple reason: the cost of 2 separate policies is usually higher than the price of one plan for the whole family. An individual policy also means your teen may not be able to enjoy some of the perks (like discounts) or coverages you have on your policy.

But in some cases, a separate policy might make sense for your young driver. Say a parent recently was convicted of a DUI or multiple moving violations — a corresponding rate increase could be even higher if a teen driver is added to the parent's policy. Or if your teen is lucky enough to drive a high-end vehicle or sports car, insurance premiums might be too high to justify adding them to your own policy.

In these cases, it may make sense to give a teen driver a fresh start when it comes to car insurance.

You can shop for separate policies and compare rates side by side with Esurance.

how to save on your teenager’s car insurance

Yes, teens can be risky drivers. But there are some easy ways to help make them less expensive to insure.

Get your child a safe car

Safe cars often mean less risk (which insurers love) and, with Esurance, they can even qualify you for a vehicle safety discount. Check out the IIHS Top Safety Picks if your lucky teen is in the market for a new car. In general, vehicles with larger bodies, enhanced safety features, and good crash safety ratings will earn you the most savings on your premium.

Look for other discounts

In some states, your teen can qualify for reduced rates by taking a safe driving course. Cracking the books can also mean premium savings — in some states, Esurance offers a Good Student discount to full-time students under 25 who maintain a 3.0 GPA or better. And you could qualify for the Multi-Car discount when you add a second car to your policy.

Discounts may vary. If you're a current Esurance customer and have questions about your discounts, call us at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

Rearrange your policy's coverages

If your teen's car is old, weathered, and grizzled, you could opt to go without comprehensive and collision coverages. The payouts on these coverages could be less than your deductible (so you'd be left to cover the repair costs), or they might not justify the premiums if the car is totaled.

You can still have comprehensive and collision on other cars or trucks on your policy. Talk to an auto insurance agent to determine if this move makes sense. Esurance customers can call us at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262), where we're here to help at these times.

Increase your deductibles

Raising certain coverage deductibles from, say, $500 to $1,000 could cut down on your monthly premium. Keep in mind that you could owe more out of pocket if an accident does occur — but if your teen is especially cautious or rarely takes the car out, this could be a way to keep your premium affordable.

See all coverages.

Learners permits 101
Your teen driver may already be at this stage or just past it. But if not, find out what to expect here.

How to keep your young driver safe
Safe driving pays. Follow these 10 tips to educate and prepare your teen driver.