Your student driver may have a learner's permit, but that doesn't mean they can hit the roads without insurance. To properly protect your child and vehicle, and meet state laws, they will need a car insurance policy.
But can you get auto insurance with a permit? The answer is yes — your child can get coverage with a learner’s permit rather than a driver’s license. What’s more, they can either get coverage on their own or be added to your policy.
We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about insurance requirements for teen drivers with a learner’s permit, the typical costs involved, and where and how to get coverage.
What is a learner’s permit?
A learner’s permit — sometimes called a learner’s license or provisional license — allows a new driver to operate a vehicle under certain restrictions. The permit is usually issued by the state department of motor vehicles (DMV) after the applicant has passed a test about road rules and safety.
Although requirements and rules vary by state, drivers can usually get a learner’s permit if they meet the following criteria. The driver must also pay a fee to get a permit. The amount varies by state.
Learner’s permit requirements
Be over 15 years of age
Have a signed parental consent form if the driver is under 18
Pass a traffic law and substance abuse education course
Pass a basic hearing and vision test
Provide documents showing proof of identity and address
A learner’s permit isn’t the same as a full license. In general, drivers with a learner’s permit are only allowed behind the wheel when accompanied by a licensed driver over the age of 21. There is typically a curfew involved as well, such as not being allowed to drive after 10 p.m.
Do you need car insurance with a learner's permit?
When it comes to car insurance requirements, state insurance laws apply. With the exception of New Hampshire, most states require all drivers to have at least state-minimum liability coverage and proof of insurance.
For many families, the easiest and cheapest way to get coverage is to add the child to their parent’s insurance policy as an occasional driver. If you have a good driving record and credit score, this will likely be the best option.
However, there are some scenarios where your child might need their own policy:
Your child is married and living in their own household: If your child got married and lives with their spouse in another residence, you cannot add them to your policy.
Your child doesn’t live at home: If your child moves out, they cannot be on your policy. However, full-time college students are typically eligible for coverage on your policy.
You’re not insured: If you don’t drive and don’t have coverage, your child will need to get their own car insurance.
You have poor credit or driving record: If you have poor credit or a poor driving record, your premiums may be higher. If your child has good credit, they could qualify for lower car insurance rates on a separate policy than if they were added to your policy.
How to get car insurance with a learner's permit
If your child has a driver's permit, car insurance is a necessity. Here are a few tips on how to get coverage for your young driver.
Adding them to an existing policy
To add your child to an existing policy, contact your insurer and let them know that you would like to add a driver. If your insurance company doesn’t let you add a driver online, you may need to call and speak with an insurance agent.
You will need to provide information such as your child’s legal name, gender, Social Security number, age, and the year, make, and model of the vehicle they will be driving.
Purchasing a standalone policy
If you want to help your child buy their own auto insurance, follow these steps:
Shop around: Car insurance for young drivers can be expensive, so it’s a good idea to shop around and get the best car insurance quotes from multiple insurance providers.
Ask about discounts: Some car insurance companies offer discount programs that could reduce your premium. These include a good student discount for having good grades, being a member of an alumni association, or taking safe driving or defensive driving courses.
Pay for the insurance: You or your child must pay the car insurance premiums before the policy goes into effect.
How much does it cost to insure a driver with a learner's permit?
Since first-time drivers have less experience on the road, car insurance for drivers with a learner’s permit can be expensive.
In general, adding a high school student to an existing policy will cost an additional $200 to $400 per month. If your child needs to buy their own auto insurance policy, it could cost between $428 to $635 per month.
Besides your child’s driving record, factors that affect your car insurance premiums include:
Location: Where you live has a significant impact on your car insurance costs. If you live in an area with a high cost of living, your premiums will be higher. And if you live in a city rather than a suburb or rural area, your car insurance could be pricier.
Age: Car insurance for a 16-year-old driver, for instance, is substantially higher than for an older, more experienced driver. Auto insurance companies typically charge more for drivers under the age of 25.
Gender: It may not sound fair, but insurers typically charge more for male drivers than female drivers. That’s because, statistically, women are involved in fewer accidents and are less likely to drive under the influence. However, some states offer a non-binary option while others have banned using gender as a fee determinant.
Year, make, and model of the vehicle: The car your child drives affects the cost of coverage. The value of the vehicle, the likelihood of theft, and the cost of repairs also impact your premiums.
Typical use: The more your child uses the vehicle, the more expensive insurance will be since more time on the road potentially increases the chances of an accident.
Can you add a learner's permit driver to a car insurance policy?
Yes, a driver with a learner’s permit can be added to your existing car insurance policy if they live with you or are attending college full-time. Adding a driver with a permit to existing coverage is usually the easiest and least expensive way to ensure your child is properly covered.
Can you buy and register a car with a permit?
You can purchase a vehicle with a learner’s permit — there is no requirement for a driver’s license to buy a car.
However, most states require you to have a license to register the vehicle with their DMV. If you don’t have a valid driver’s license, the car would have to be registered in another driver’s name.
Provisional drivers with learner’s permits are required to meet state-minimum requirements, so they will need to get insurance by being added to their parent’s policy (or a guardian’s policy) or purchasing their own coverage.
Purchasing car insurance for college students or young drivers can be expensive, so consider options like usage-based coverage. With these policies, prices are based on your actual use of the vehicle.
If you’re looking for other options for how to save money on car insurance, be sure to ask your insurance agent about potential discounts for young drivers.
More from FinanceBuzz: