Insurance

Ask an agent: Teen troubles

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If you’ve got questions about your insurance coverage, claims or just pesky random scenarios that pop up — our experts have the answers. Welcome back to Ask an Agent, our advice column where we share questions we’ve gotten and the answers from The Zebra licensed insurance agents. 

Today, we’re looking at questions related to teen drivers. If you've got a teen in your life and they are or are soon to be on your insurance policy, this one's for you! We've got questions about costs, filing claims and a few tips for saving money despite the high cost to insure the under-20 demographic. 

Question 1: Can I save money if I only have my son drive a less expensive car?

I'm about to have to add my son to our car insurance policy, and I'm a little worried about the costs. If I add my teenager to my car insurance, does it matter if I add him as the primary driver to a V6 2005 Mustang or a V8 1999 F150 4x4? Can I save money if it's the cheaper vehicle, and if so which one would that be? 

-Optimistic in Oklahoma

It's understandable to be concerned about the costs of adding a teen driver. According to our recent State of Insurance report, the average annual cost to insure a teen in Oklahoma is over $5,000. 

Unfortunately, you won't be able to save money the way you had hoped. With most companies, all drivers on the policy are covered to drive all cars on the policy. This means vehicles are not typically assigned to a driver. There are a few companies that will assign cars to drivers but it does not decrease the rate because all drivers are still covered to drive all cars.

Over time the rates will decrease (the older he gets, the lower the rates) and keeping a clean driving record will also help. Here are a few more tips for saving on teen driving insurance. If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to ask

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Question 2: Can my teen be on a separate policy?

My teen is about to get her license, and I'm already worried about the costs. Is it possible to have our teenager on a separate auto policy as my wife and I? Are there insurance companies that would allow our nearly 17-year-old son to be on a separate auto insurance policy driving only one car? Then my wife and I would be on another policy driving the other two cars only? Would it even save money?

-Apprehensive in Arizona

Typically, it is not cheaper to have your child on a separate policy. Some of the big rating factors are credit and current insurance status. Since your daughter hasn't established credit, she would be charged more than someone who's credit is established. The same goes for insurance status. The longer you are insured, continuously, the better your rate will be also. There are a few other factors such as multi-vehicle discounts, possible homeowners discount, multi-driver discount, etc. She would not have access to any of these discounts on her own.

I know adding a young driver will increase your rates a lot (according to our recent State of Insurance report the average teen driver in Arizona will pay just under $6,000 annually if on their own policy), but it's still cheaper than having your daughter on her own policy. 

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Question 3: Is my teen covered if he got into an accident before being added to our policy?

I'm sure you've heard this one before. My son got his license in late July and hit a parked car in early August. He used the car that one day only, and lives at his college campus. The car is deemed a total loss, and now the insurance is denying the claim, saying he was not covered on the specific date. But according to my research, the Registry of Motor Vehicles states that you have 60 days to notify your agent to add the new driver to your policy. Who's right, me or the insurance company?

-Mad in Massachusetts

Sorry to hear about your situation. It's hard to say if your insurance company is wrong to deny the claim without knowing your specific policy details. Many companies would have required him to be listed much earlier because he was a known person in the household.

It's possible that he could have also been an excluded driver. If you believe they are in the wrong, I would suggest seeking legal advice to help you through the claim process. 

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Can my daughter stay on my car insurance policy after I transfer the title of the car to her?

My daughter is going to be a freshman in college next fall and will be taking her car with her. Can she stay on my policy if I transfer the title to her, if her place of residence is still listed as with us?

-Missing her in Missouri

You're the first question actually asking for ways to keep your teen on your policy!

That said, it may not be possible. There are a couple of things to think about here. First, it sounds like your daughter will be going to college away from your listed residence. If this is the case, she would need her own policy with the vehicle on it. Car insurance is priced at the zip code level and regulated by the state. Meaning, she needs a policy for the exact address she will be living in.

If you transfer the title to her, she can just get a policy in her name. However, if the title is still in your name, I recommend having you listed on the policy as an "additional interest." This way, if there is a claim check made out, it will be made out to you as you are the owner of the vehicle.

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However, if she is going to college but still living with you, she can stay on the policy as long as that's actually what she is doing. Just keep in mind if she's going to college away from your listed address with the vehicle and files a claim, you risk having the claim denied. For more information, see our additional articles here:

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Do you have a question you'd like to annoymously ask one of our agents? Shoot us a message here, and we'll get back to you shortly! 

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