5 Insurance Tips for Parents of Teen Drivers
Learning to drive is a rite of passage for the Texas teenager. With our state encompassing 268,820 square miles, driving is a downright necessity for most. Parents spend a lot of time worrying about their teenage drivers, and they have good reason. Motor vehicle crashes is the number one killer of teens in the United States. Sadly, for every teen who dies in a car crash, 100 more are injured. For this reason, teens are expensive to insure. If you have a teen driver or plan to soon, know these 5 tips before your teen drives away for the first time.
1. An older vehicle will cost less to insure.
Many parents choose to buy a new car for their teenage driver . It’s understandable to want them to have access to the latest safety and driving technology. Unfortunately, a new car and a new driver together on your policy is harder on your wallet. Your rate will be much higher if you are insuring a new car for your teen. An option that is easier on your wallet is a vehicle that is two to five years old. Not only does an older car cost less, but it is less to insure too. Additionally, your teen doesn’t have the pressure of keeping a new car pristine and dent free. The stakes are not as high with a used car, if and when a fender bender happens. A new car with newer technologies (such as GPS and blue tooth voice texting) may make it more difficult for your new driver to tune out distractions.
2. Put your teen driver on your policy and ask about discounts.
Most companies will allow your child to be on your policy until they are 25. This is more affordable than having them on their own policy. Rates vary, however, depending on your teen’s driving record and living circumstances. Having a clean driving record and maintaining As and Bs in school are student discounts offered by most insurance companies. Many companies also offer discounts if you participate in their telematics program. This means you give permission for the insurance company to put a device in your car to collect driving data on you. Additional discounts are available if you maintain a good driving record after a period of time.
3. Invest in driving school for your teen driver.
Let’s be truthful with ourselves parents. We aren’t always the best teachers for our teen drivers. Consider how children learn how to swim better with a swim teacher. The same is likely true for driving. Teen drivers learn better with an trained driving instructor. More importantly, teens who complete a driver’s education course are statistically better drivers. Students who do not take a driver’s education course are 75% more likely to get a ticket and 24% more likely to be involved in an accident. Many insurance companies will offer a discount for attending certain driver schools with proof of completion. It may be with only certain schools, however. Check with your insurance agent and insurance company to see what school is recommended for for your student driver.
4. Don’t make a claim for every little mishap.
Teenage drivers will have dents and fender benders. This is a fact and just part of the learning to drive process. Resist the urge to file a claim for each and every one. The more claims you make, the more your insurance will go up at renewal. Some companies will refuse to renew your policy if you have too many claims. Additionally, claims will stay on your driving record for four to five years. Even accidents that are not your fault will show up on your record. Many people do not realize you can dispute claims that are not your fault. Doing so may help keep your rate low. If the cost of making a repair is equal to or less than your deductible, pay for the repairs yourself to keep your rate low. Talk to your agent and find out what claims are on your record.
5. Shop your rates yearly.
Adding a teen driver to your policy makes your insurance rate go up. As a parent, we cannot avoid this expense. You can, however, make sure you find the best available rate. Have an independent agent evaluate your policy each year at renewal. Just because your policy is for a year does not mean you are stuck with that company for a year. As a policy holder, you have the right to cancel at any time. If you pay in full, companies will reimburse you for the amount of time left on your policy that is paid for but not used. Rates go up for various reasons such as on crime in your zip code and recent severe weather events, to name a couple. Not all companies rate the same. Some are more forgiving of bad drivers than others. Remember you are in control and you have options when it comes to insuring your teenage driver.