Most teens look forward to getting their driver’s license with unbridled enthusiasm, but the emotions their parents feel are more complicated. Whether you are bracing for a new teen driver or your son or daughter has reached adulthood, here’s how your car insurance can cover your child.

In this article:

Is my child covered under my car insurance?

Your child isn’t automatically covered under your car insurance when they start to drive, but it’s relatively easy to add them to your policy.

It’s best to notify your car insurance company when your child gets their learner's permit. Most insurance companies cover your child at no additional cost when they drive your car with a permit under your supervision. However, since the rules on this vary by state and insurance company, you should still check to see if your policy has any restrictions.

Once your child gets their license, you typically need to add them to your policy as a listed driver. Doing so is easy — but expensive. As a group, teens tend to have some of the highest crash rates, and this makes them among the most expensive drivers to insure.

How do I add a teenager to my car insurance?

To add your teen to your policy, you can usually just call your insurance company and provide a few details, including your child’s name, date of birth and driver’s license number. If your child has their own car, you need to add it to your policy, if you have not already done so.

How much does it cost to add my child to my car insurance?

Adding a child to a parent’s car insurance can raise the policy’s average monthly cost by $221, according to a recent QuoteWizard analysis on the cost of teen car insurance. Our research shows that the average monthly rate of a parent’s full-coverage policy climbs from $129 a month to $350 after a child is added.

Insurance rates for parents and teens
Covered person or people Average monthly rate
Parent alone $129
Teen alone $335
Parent and teen on same policy $350
Parent and teen on separate policies $464
Note: Rates based on non-binding quotes obtained from Quadrant Information Services for 10 leading insurance companies in Illinois and Oregon. Your rates may vary.

Since adding a child to your policy is expensive, consider obtaining quotes from multiple carriers to see if any can give you a more favorable rate or better coverage than your current carrier.

Make sure to ask about discounts, too. Most insurance companies offer a good student discount to students with a B average or better. Some companies also offer discounts to new drivers who complete an authorized driver education class.

Can a teenager get their own car insurance policy?

There are legal and financial obstacles that make it difficult, but not impossible, for a teenager to get their own insurance policy.

From a legal point of view, most states require an individual to be at least 18 years old to enter into any type of contract, including an insurance policy. Consequently, a minor usually needs a parent or guardian to cosign, where permitted, to get their own car insurance.

From a financial perspective, teens almost always get a better deal when they are added to a parent or guardian’s policy than on their own.

This is because insurance companies use the average risk of all drivers on a policy to determine the policy’s rate. Since teens are considered high risk, the average risk of the drivers on the policy goes up when parents add a teen, and so does the rate.

On the other hand, when a teen is the only person on a policy, the risk average is usually considerably higher than it would be with parents on board to reduce the average.

As noted in the QuoteWizard analysis above, the average monthly cost of adding a teen to a parent’s policy is $221. While this is significant, it’s still cheaper than the $335 average monthly rate that teens pay for their own policies.

When should a child get their own car insurance?

Though it’s usually better for your child to get their own car insurance when they move out of your home for good, there are certain occasions when it makes sense to do it before then. Here are two examples:

  • If the parents or guardians don’t drive, they probably don’t have car insurance. In this situation, a child would need their own policy to drive legally in most states.
  • If the parents own luxury or exotic cars, it may be cheaper to insure the child on a separate policy with a more modest car. The risks associated with some high-end cars already make them expensive to insure. Adding a teen to the policy could compound these costs.

In most other cases, your children are usually better off waiting until their 20s to get their own car insurance because this is usually when they start qualifying for better rates on their own.

How long can my child stay on my car insurance?

The amount of time you have to keep your child on your car insurance depends largely on where they live and who owns the car they drive.

There is no limit on how long you can keep a child living in your home on your policy, whether their car is registered in your name or theirs. You may even qualify for a multicar discount by placing or keeping a resident child of any age on your policy.

Things get a little trickier when the child moves out of your home. The rules on this vary by state and insurance company, but, in general:

  • If you are the vehicle’s registered owner or co-owner, you may be able to keep an adult child living away from home on your policy, often until the child turns 25.
  • You can normally keep an adult child on your policy if your home remains their permanent address while they are away at school.
  • If your name is not on the vehicle’s title and your child’s new home is their permanent address, they will likely need their own insurance policy.

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