Your teenager is about to get their driving permit. The fact that they are a teenager alone probably causes you enough trouble, but the idea of them being more mobile is not comforting. How can you make the best of the situation? What sort of car will they drive? What sort of insurance should they have?
What’s the safest way to insure them? How will you keep them alive long enough to safely graduate high school? Some of these are more easily addressed than others; perhaps it’s best to discuss those things which you can control.
Don’t wait. Let your insurance company know as soon as your teenager is ready to get his or her permit. Some states will allow carriers to require you to notify them when you have a teen with a drivers permit. Most of the time, the carrier won’t charge you for the additional driver until they graduate from their permit to a license.
If you forget to tell them, and your child is involved in an accident, the insurance company will usually cover them. However, if this does happen, it can retroactively bump up your rates or even revoke your coverage. Also, if you don’t tell them once your teen moves from permit to license, they can retroactively charge you for the extra driver, or may even deny coverage if they get in an accident.
Safety should be first. Make sure that you teach by example. Show your teen how to be a good driver, make sure they take safety courses, and are aware of all of the rules of the road in your state.
Encourage your child to get good grades. Many companies will offer discounts for students who maintain a B average in high school or in college. Some carriers will also offer discounts for community involvement: scouts, 4-H, civic or community organizations are all great for your teen to be involved in.
Choose a safe car. Make sure their car is equipped with airbags, safety belts, and anti-lock brakes.
Don’t let your teen persuade you to get them a flashy car. Encourage them to get a used car. Older cars, which are usually heavier than newer, sleeker models, are not as easy to drive recklessly because they tend to hug the road. These are safer and less expensive to insure.
When you buy an older car, you may decide to drop the optional collision and comprehensive insurance and purchase only liability. Insurance companies normally do not pay out well for older cars, and this will save you money on what you pay each month. Also, older cars usually have a lower blue book value, and that keeps costs down too.
Check into multiple vehicle policies with your carrier. Often insurance carriers will offer a discount for the insuring of multiple vehicles with one company. Keep the additional car in your name. The parents usually have better assets and therefore are a safer investment to insure.
You may not be able to control your teenager, and knowing that they are out there on the road will probably not bring you peace of mind. However, being safe about the way you insure them, the car that you put them in, and the example you make in your own driving will increase the likelihood that your teen driver will be in better hands. This lets you focus on the tougher issues like getting them to follow your rules.
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