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How to save by adding kids to parents’ car insurance

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Compare cheap car insurance for parents and teen drivers

Insuring a household together comes with steep discounts — but keeping a kid on your car insurance policy when they’re not eligible puts you at risk for a denied claim. Get to know your options when it’s time to grow out of household car insurance, including when kids need to come off and the caveats that come with specific insurers.

How long can kids stay on their parents’ car insurance?

There’s no specific cutoff age for children to remain on their parents’ car insurance. If the child is considered a dependent, they can stay on a household insurance policy indefinitely.

However, each insurance company interprets “dependent” in slightly different ways. In general, the child needs to live at home either part-time or full-time and drive a car owned by a parent. This means that a college student who comes home for breaks can stay on the policy, and so can any child living at home.

The main factor in determining if a child can be on an insurance policy comes down to who owns the title of the vehicle they’re driving. If the child owns the title of a vehicle outright, then most insurance companies want that vehicle insured independently of a family or household policy.

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Do kids need insurance to drive their parents’ car?

Yes. Unlike with occasional drivers, members of a household who intend to drive the family car must be insured under a single household policy. No matter the age of the child, they’d need to be listed as a driver of the vehicle to legally get behind its wheel.

How to save money when adding a teenage driver

We all know adding a teen driver to the car insurance policy is going to cause an increase in the premium. But there are ways to cut down on costs when the time comes. Here are some discounts that might be available to you:

  • Good grade discount. Students often get a discount for maintaining good grades. This even carries over to the college years.
  • Anti-theft device discount. Purchasing an anti-theft device will help to lower insurance costs.
  • Fraternity, sorority or honor society. If your college student is a member of any of these organizations, there might be discounts available to you.
  • Resident student discount. As discussed above, if your teen driver is away at school and won’t be bringing a car on campus, you could be eligible for a discount.
  • Vehicle selection. The type of car your teen drives will affect the cost of insurance. Purchasing a moderately priced car with great safety ratings and a low theft rate will help to temper costs.

When do insurance rates go down for young drivers?

Insurance rates tend to go down around age 25. Statistically, drivers from 25 to 65 are much less likely to get in an accident than drivers outside of this age range. Drivers under 21 and senior drivers tend to see higher premiums.

The specific age that your child’s insurance policy decreases varies by provider though. So be sure to confirm with your provider when you might see your child’s rates go down.

If a child owns a car outright, can they stay on their parents’ car insurance?

No. Many companies require a child to pick up their own insurance policy for cars they own outright, especially if a parent isn’t listed as an owner on the title. But if your child still lives at home, some insurers could consider your kid’s car a household vehicle, thereby allowing it to be covered under a larger umbrella policy. Confirm with your insurer how it handles this specific situation.

Can a child stay on their parents’ car insurance if they move out?

In general, if parents pay for a child’s housing, food, college expenses or any other costs of living while they’re away, an insurance provider considers them a member of their parents’ household.

But it depends on how the child lists their permanent residence:

  • Your child has their own place. If your kid lists their address as separate from yours, your child needs their own insurance policy to cover the vehicles they drive.
  • Your child comes home for breaks. If your kid is currently in college and still uses your address as their permanent address, they can typically stay on the household policy.

To save money on your policy, look into whether your provider offers occasional driver discounts if your college student doesn’t drive while at school.

Leaving the car home while at college

Taking the car to college might seem like an obvious step in heading off to school, but there are several perks to not having a car on campus. Consider these benefits:

  • Safety. According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. And drivers in their 20s account for 24 percent of fatal crashes. Leaving the car at home could help to keep your college kid safe.
  • Discounts. You’ll find that many of the big car insurance providers offer a resident student discount for college students who are at least 100 miles away from home who will not be driving while away at school.
  • Parking. Parking on college campuses can be scarce. Not having a car eliminates this hassle.
  • Drinking and driving. Without a car on campus, the temptation to drink and drive is not there.

Can a child stay on their parents’ car insurance after getting married?

No. Most car insurance companies consider marriage a clear break from any parents. This kind of financial independence will likely require your child to start a new insurance policy with their spouse, especially if a move out of the family home comes with the marriage.

If your child still lives at home, you might find exceptions. If they’re still a member of the household and frequently drive a vehicle owned by a parent, they might still need to be listed as a driver on your household policy. This doesn’t mean they won’t also have to purchase their own policy, so confirm with your insurer how it handles this situation.

What if the teen’s parents are divorced?

How to handle your teen’s car insurance will vary by your specific situation and your insurance provider’s rules. But here are some general guidelines:

  • Joint custody. If you and your ex share joint custody of your child and the child’s time is split evenly between each parent, you will most likely need to put your teen driver on your and your ex’s car insurance policies.
  • Primary custody. If you have primary custody of your teen, you’ll need to add them to your policy. If you are not the parent with primary custody and your teen rarely drives your vehicle, you might not need to add them to your policy. But check with your provider to make sure you have proper coverage
  • Your teen has their own car. If your young driver has their own car, you will save money by adding their car to your policy rather than taking out a separate policy. Each parent should talk to their provider about adding your teen’s car to their policy to find out which offers the best deal.
  • Single parents. If you’re a single parent, you’ll need to put your teen driver on your policy — and you need to tell your insurer if you have a licensed teen even if they won’t drive your car. Insurance premiums tend to be higher for people who aren’t married, so it’s worth shopping around for the best deal.

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The best way to handle car insurance for a family

If you’re looking to add one or more teen drivers to your family’s car insurance policy, you’ll save the most by keeping any cars in your name. Taking out an insurance policy for your car and adding your teen as a driver generally costs a lot less than adding a car in a teen’s name.

If your teen has their own car, try to have them listed as primary driver on the cheapest car to save money. And if they’ll just be borrowing your car from time to time, make sure your insurer lists them as a secondary driver.

The best family cars for sharing with teen drivers

If you’ve got a teen driver in the house who will be sharing the family car, there are a few things to consider when making the big purchase of a new car. Is the car safe? Is it pricey to insure?

For safety ratings, we consulted the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The largest cars still fare the best in crashes because of their size and weight. So the safest car in the small car category isn’t necessarily as safe as a car in the large car category. And most models only make the list when they include optional safety equipment, like front crash prevention or special headlights.

Top five cheapest cars to insure

  • Honda CR-V
  • Nissan Micra
  • Kia Rio
  • Chevy Equinox
  • Hyundai i10

Safest cars for families and teen drivers

Small cars

  • 2018 Hyundai Elantra
  • 2018 Kia Forte, applies only to sedans
  • 2018 Subrau Crosstrek
  • 2018 Toyota Corolla

Midsize cars

  • 2018 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2018 Kia Optima
  • 2018 Subaru Outback
  • 2018 Toyota Camry

Large cars

  • 2018 Kia Credenza
  • 2018 & 2019 Toyota Avalon

Small SUVs

  • 2018 Mazda CS-5

Midsize SUVs

  • 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2019 Kia Sorento

Minivans

  • 2018 Chrysler Pacifica
  • 2018 Honda Odyssey
  • 2018 Kia Sedona

Midsize luxury cars

  • 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia
  • 2018 Audi A3
  • 2018 BMW 2 series
  • 2018 Volvo S60

Large luxury cars

  • 2018 BMW 5 series
  • 2018 Genesis G80
  • 2018 Lexus RC
  • 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, 4-door sedan version

Midsize luxury SUVs

  • 2018 BMW X3
  • 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC
  • 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class

Can I list myself as the primary driver on my teen’s car?

No. Naming another insured driver as the primary driver, also known as fronting, can lead to denied claims down the line. And even if you try it, your insurance company is going to have questions about why you’re driving multiple cars and other insured drivers aren’t driving at all. As a general rule of thumb, insurers expect one car per insured driver in multi-car households.

Bottom line

At the end of the day, several factors affect whether a child can remain on a parent’s car insurance policy. Ultimately, every insurance company has its own policies, so check with yours to learn how to keep them on your policy. And compare your car insurance coverage to see if you’re getting the best deal you’re eligible for.

FAQs

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