As the time has approached for our son to learn to drive, I have grown more confident in his ability to learn safe driving skills because I know my husband and I don’t drive like maniacs. We have spent months drilling our son on everything from right of way to parallel parking. We even drove him to Crazytown by grilling him about every road sign we saw on a recent trip to our local ski mountain. And yes, he rolled his eyes when I asked him what the giant red octagon sign meant.
Even though we are doing what we can to make sure our son is safe on the road, we know accidents happen. Whether he backs the family car into a tree accidentally or someone sideswipes him on the highway, having the proper insurance to cover not only the damage to your car but other property is imperative. But, thinking about car insurance for teens can feel daunting and confusing at a time when you are wrestling with the fact that it feels like just yesterday that your son was tooling around the yard in his little red Cozy Coupe.
Grown and Flown spoke with Bill Dadio, an Allstate agent in northeastern PA with 23 years of experience, to help parents navigate the often confusing world of car insurance. As a parent of three kids, two of whom are in college, Dadio understands all too well the stresses that come with having teen drivers in the house.
Tips for Car Insurance for Teens
Here are his tips:
1). Evaluate your overall liability coverage.
When it comes insuring a teen driver, Dadio says that adding a new driver adds a new layer of risk to a household. “Parents are typically most concerned with price when adding a young driver to their auto insurance policy. But, parents should more so be concerned with their level of liability protection. Parents should use the opportunity to right-size their liability coverage so as to fully protect their assets if the young driver (or any other household driver) should cause an accident.”
Dadio also points out that parents are responsible for a teen’s driving actions until the teen turns 18, so it doesn’t make sense for a teen to have their own policy from the start.
Most insurance agencies offer discounts for good grades, driver training school and, in some cases, discounts can be applied after your teen has displayed a safe driving record for a period of time. Dadio says that companies also typically offer discounts for college students, too. For instance, Allstate offers a discount to resident students who are attending school 100 miles away without a car on campus.
3). Include your teen in your meetings with the insurance agent.
“Insurance is not a finite thing. It’s ongoing, fluid and evolving,” says Dadio. When it comes time for a teen to purchase his or her first policy, typically when they buy their first car in their name, Dadio encourages parents to include the teen in the discussions about the policy.
“I like to make sure teens and young adults understand what they are buying and explain terms like ‘liability’,” Dadio explains.
A teen’s car insurance needs at the age of 18 will be quite different than when they are 25 and helping your teen to develop a relationship with a reputable agent will serve your teen well in the long run.
4). Some of the insurance rules have changed since we were teenagers.
When I was a teen, I can remember being cautioned by an insurance against buying a red car because of the price increase. Dadio laughed when I relayed that story and said, “That’s not the case anymore. There are no longer gender differentiations when it comes to price and the color of the car is not a factor these days.”
But, Dadio says, the make, model and type of car will affect the cost of your policy so he encourages parents to reach out to their insurance agent before signing on the dotted line. “I tell parents to call me when they’ve narrowed their car choices down to two or three models because, sometimes, there can be a significant price difference.”
Dadio says the number one reason parents call his office when parents are about to send their kids off to college is because they want to drop their kid from their policies. And, every time he receives one of those calls, he reminds parents that their teen is still a resident of the household and thus, should be kept on the policy. Keeping your teen on your policy enables first party benefits in case your teen is hurt in an accident while away at school.
“I encourage parents not to break the chain of insurance because it’s better for their teen in the long run, too,” Dadio tells Grown and Flown. The longer your teen is on your policy, the better rate he or she will get down the road when they finally do spin-off on to their own policy.
Finally, if your teen in involved in car accident while away at school, Dadio offers the following tips:
1). Make sure your teen has a current insurance card, updated registration and a business card for your insurance agent in the glove compartment. Remember that some insurance policies renew every six months so you’ll need to mail a physical copy to your teen while they are at school.
2). At the accident scene, if your teen is unharmed and safe, tell your son or daughter to take pictures with their smartphone. Dadio suggests pictures of the scene, the damage to both cards, the license plates of the cars involved and, if the other driver offers insurance card information, take a picture of that, too. “Pictures are crucial and helpful when it comes to filing claims,” says Dadio.