How Long Can You Insure Your Child on Your Auto Insurance Policy?

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Children of driving age can usually be insured on a parent's auto insurance policy for any length of time as long as they live in the parent's household. However, whether a teen who goes away to college can continue to be insured on his parents' policy may depend on the proximity of the school from the parents' home, as well as on the policies of the insurance provider.

Considerations

Parents insuring a female teenage driver can expect their auto insurance premium to increase by as much as 50 percent; insuring a male teenage driver can increase premiums by 100 percent. When a teenager first begins to drive, it is usually cheaper for a parent to add him to an existing auto insurance policy. However, the rates rise significantly because of teenagers' increased risk of accidents. Keep in mind that if a teenager is involved in an accident or receives a traffic violation, auto insurance premiums will rise even more. Still, it may be cheaper than taking out a separate policy for a teenage driver, especially if your child only occasionally drives the family vehicle. If your teenager buys his own vehicle, though, you might want to purchase a separate policy.

Features

Some auto insurance companies offer discounts when a child is living away at college. Normally, this type of discount applies if your child is attending a school located at least 100 miles from home, and does not take a vehicle to the school. Many companies also offer discounts if young drivers earn good grades in school or complete a recognized driver's education course.

Identification

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the kind of vehicle a teenager drives affects the premium. Vehicles that handle better and offer protection in an accident are often insured at lower rates. Vehicles with a tire pressure monitoring system, daytime running lights, all-wheel drive and anti-lock disc brakes can help a driver avoid hazardous driving situations, lowering insurance premiums. Higher insurance rates are charged for vehicles that can travel at high speeds because they can encourage reckless driving. Trucks and SUVs are also more expensive to insure, as these types of vehicles are more likely to roll over when involved in a collision. Economy-model vehicles tend to be cheaper to insure than more expensive models.

Significance

Because teenage drivers are inexperienced, they are more likely to be involved in automobile accidents, so it may be a good idea to increase liability limits for additional protection. Notify your insurance agent as soon as your teenager begins to drive. Most companies will continue to insure a child on the same policy if the child attends college in the same state in which the parents permanently reside. Some companies will insure a child who attends a college in another state as an occasional driver. Other companies allow policyholders to continue to insure an adult child on a vehicle even after the child graduates from college and moves away from home. This provides coverage if your adult child occasionally drives your vehicle. As a general rule of thumb, most insurance companies consider the primary driver to be the registered owner of the vehicle, the one who drives it more often than anyone else.

Misconceptions

While insuring teenage drivers does generally cost more than insuring adult drivers, premiums are lower for teens who have good driving records. Teen drivers are not always viewed as a single liability group when insurance companies set rates. Many companies now consider individual risk factors and offer discounts for teens who keep safe driving records.

Expert Insight

Insurance agents point out that if your child takes a vehicle to college, the location of the school can make a big difference in the insurance premium you pay. If the college is located in an urban area, the premium will likely be higher. Insurance companies consider theft and accident statistics for specific areas when setting premium rates. Even if a child does not take a vehicle to college, parents are advised not to remove the child from the family insurance policy. Doing so may lower premiums, but your child will not be covered while at school, where she may drive a friend's vehicle. Any vehicle owned by your child must be insured under a separate insurance policy, or your policy must be include your child as well.

Warning

Premiums for auto insurance policies that include a young driver do not decrease significantly until after that driver's 25th birthday. If you keep an adult child who is living in your household on your auto insurance policy after she turns 25, consider that your child's driving record will affect both the current and future rates of your auto insurance. Insurance companies require that policyholders list all household members who will be driving vehicles you own. Even if your adult child no longer lives with you, if he continues to drive your vehicles frequently you may be required to add him to your auto insurance policy. Contact your insurance agent for the company's specific requirements.

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