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How do I insure my teenage driver?

As soon as your teenager begins to drive, notify your insurance agent that there will be an additional driver in the house. Since teenagers are inexperienced drivers, they tend to get into a lot of accidents. This will, unfortunately, be reflected in higher insurance rates. If you have a daughter, you can expect your insurance to go up as much as 50 percent. A son will increase your car insurance by as much as 100 percent. Consider also raising liability limits or buying an umbrella liability policy for additional protection.
How to keep the increased cost to a minimum

  • Insure your son or daughter on your own policy.
    It is generally cheaper to add your teenagers to your insurance policy than for them to purchase their own. If they are going to be driving their own car, insure it with your company so that you can get a multi-policy discount.
  • Let your insurer know if your teenager is going away to school.
    If your your kids are living away at school–at least 100 miles from home–you will get a discount for the time they are not around to drive the car. This, of course, assumes that they leave the car at home!
  • Encourage your teen to get good grades and to take a driver training course.
    Most companies will give discounts for getting at least a “B” average in school and for taking recognized driving courses.
  • Shop around.
    Insurance companies differ dramatically in how they price policies for young drivers.
  • Pick a safe car.
    The type of car a young person drives can dramatically affect the price of insurance. You and your teenager should choose a car that is easy to drive and would offer protection in the event of a crash. You should avoid small cars and those with high performance images that might encourage speed and recklessness. Trucks and SUVs should also be avoided, since they are more prone to rollovers. For more information, see Teenagers & Safe Cars.
  • Talk to them about safe driving.
    Driving safely will not only keep your son or daughter alive and healthy, it will also save money. As your teenager gets older, insurance rates will drop–providing he or she has a good driving record.
  • Talk to your teen about the dangers of combining driving with alcohol, lack of sleep and distractions.
    Accidents occur each year because a teen driver was using a cell phone, playing the radio or talking to friends in the backseat. Also, teens should be careful not to provide distractions and to exhibit safe behavior when they are passengers in their friends' cars.
  • Be a good role model.
    New drivers learn by example, so if you drive recklessly, your teenage driver may copy you. Always wear your seatbelt and never drink and drive.
  • Institute your own version of a graduated drivers licensing program.
    A number of states have reduced teen accidents by restricting the amount of time new drivers may be on the road without supervision. If your state doesn't have such a program, you may institute this same policy with your own children. Also, take an active role in helping your teenager learn to drive. Plan a series of practice drives in a wide variety of situations–nighttime, rain and snow. Give them time to work up to challenges such as driving in heavy traffic, on expansive bridges or on freeways.

For more information, on teen driving contact the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ( http://www.iihs.org ) and the Department of Transportation (http://www.dot.gov).

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