Do I need to get car insurance for my 19year old son?
February 1, 2007 4:10 AM   Subscribe

My 19 year old son just got his driver's license... he's been using public transportation,friends, etc to move around, but I guess he couldn't wait any longer.... At my house there are 3 cars, all of wich are used daily,(my other son,wife and I ). He would be borrowing one of the cars (when available) or else his grandmother's, who doesn't live with us. Am I required to tell my car insurance company (State Farm), that the household has another driver? I once called them and they told me to notify them when he got his license, premium would go up a couple of thousand dollars. Do I really have to do it????? We are in South Florida.
posted by FLHunter3006 to Travel & Transportation (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, what part of your insurance carrier's instruction was not clear? You need to have ALL household drivers listed on your policy. I can't imagine your rate is going to go up $2,000 for adding a 19 year old, unless he's had some accidents or tickets or something, but I'm sure there will be a not-insubstantial increase.

Strictly considering your & your son's self interest, you should recognize that failing to add him to the policy could result in his not being covered in case of an accident, in which case you could be out thousands and thousands of dollars for property damage and (god forbid) medical costs. Also, if he gets pulled over for something less serious and is found not to have insurance, that could be a serious offense and it hardly seems fair to put him in that position to save some money.
posted by rkent at 4:38 AM on February 1, 2007

Talk to your agent. Most companies will automatically increase premiums when there is another driver in the household, and if you have more than two cars, most will automatically identify one of the kids as the primary driver of one of the cars. Some companies will allow you to specifically exclude a particular driver, but of course he would then have no coverage. Others will not allow you to do that, on the assumption that you are lying.

There are options. Have him pay the difference. Have him move out. Buy him an old junker. Buy him a motorcycle.
posted by megatherium at 4:43 AM on February 1, 2007

Yes, he has to be insured. So if he's using all 4 cars, he needs to be a named driver on the insurance for them. Which means grandma is going to have to swallow a premium hike too.

That is, unless you can get him his own insurance policy that covers him to drive any car. Mine does this. Might be worth looking into. Caveat: I'm, in the UK.
posted by corvine at 5:09 AM on February 1, 2007

Where I live, in Michigan, they automatically increased our insurance from the day our daughter was of an age to get a permit. Whether she is licensed or not, they will increase it again when our renewal rolls around. I wasn't thrilled about it, because she wasn't driving yet - but they didn't give us a choice.

Yes, get him insured. This is not a bet you can afford to lose.
posted by clarkstonian at 5:20 AM on February 1, 2007

Have him get his own. If he were to have a wreck, it will affect HIM and not YOU.
posted by konolia at 5:50 AM on February 1, 2007

what kind of car are you going to list him as being the primary driver on? you should only list him as driving ONE car, and have him use it or nothing else.

if you put him as the primary driver on a vehicle with a large engine (v6 honda accord, v8 dodge ram, v8 dodge caravan), or sport trim (v4 nissan sentra se-r, malibu ss) the premium will go up a lot more than it would if you list him as the primary driver on your oldest, standard 4-cylinder car.

if you specifically list him as being a driver on all three cars, then yeah, the premium will go up a lot because they gauge potential risk based on the amount of trouble he could cause with each vehicle.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 5:57 AM on February 1, 2007

Please make sure your son is on your policy. Actual event: I was not added to my parent's insurance policy for a few months after I bought a car (unbeknownst to me -- apparently, there were some inconsistancies that my parents wanted to clear up before adding me onto their policy). I caused a car accident (just a mistake, the kind that happens to new drivers), and I (a) lost my license for not being insured and (b) got sued for thousands of dollars plus lawyer's fees and court costs.

I realize that my situation is slighly different (the car wasn't my parents' or grandparent's; it was mine), but it's vital that you don't allow your insurance company to weasel out of paying for something that -- regardless of your son's culpability.

Also, some places give discounts for being honor roll students. Perhaps he qualifies?
posted by parilous at 6:26 AM on February 1, 2007

(Incidentally, a motorcycle for a 19-year-old is rarely a way to save on insurance.)
posted by mendel at 6:35 AM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Have him move out" - legal address change will work but you have an ethical dilemma then..
posted by thilmony at 6:35 AM on February 1, 2007

From"Keep in mind that most insurance companies require you to list the principal and secondary drivers of every insured vehicle. If you have a teenage driver under your roof, he or she should be listed on your insurance policy even though your insurance rates may increase substantially. Technically, a teen who is not listed on your policy may still be covered if he or she had an accident. But your insurer could charge you retroactively for coverage on your teen from the date that your teen became a licensed driver."
posted by lee at 6:53 AM on February 1, 2007

If he does not live with Grandma, he does not have to be put on her insurance, not matter how often he borrows her car -- you only have to get all drivers in the household added to your insurance.

Now that he is over 18, the addition may not be as severe (but that may not apply since he is a new driver). thilmony presents a possible way to get around it. Perhaps (depending on your situation) he could ACTUALLY move in with Grandma -- then he only needs to be added to her insurance, and can borrow any of your cars whenever he wants.

Insurance companies are not known for their fondness of customers who find loopholes in their policies, however; so if you want any potential claims processes to go smoothly, comply with the spirit of their regulations, not the letter of the law.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:02 AM on February 1, 2007

former state farm employee here, albeit some time ago and not in florida.

generally they will require him to be the principal insured on one of your vehicles. whoever said make him drive your least expensive least powerful vehicle is dead on. the insurance on that vehicle will go up quite a bit. the insurance on your other policies may go up some also, but the most substantial increase will be on "his" vehicle. if he is a good student take proof - that will help. defensive driving courses will help some also with the premium.

best case scenario if you don't tell them and he has a wreck - they pay and drop you like a hot potato. worst case - they don't pay at all and drop you like a hot potato. you have the right as an auto owner to loan your car to people and still expect them to be covered. (auto insurance insures the auto, not the driver. driver info is for rating the insurance) if he gets stopped and the car is insured, it won't be a problem. cops don't care anything other than that the car has insurance. however, since he will be driving it all the time, it becomes more iffy on coverage for accidents since he isn't just borrowing the car, he is using it regularly. you will look like you are trying to get away with something because you are, and they frown on that sort of thing. pain in the ass stuff will ensue.

tell them. it is the right thing to do.
posted by domino at 7:06 AM on February 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

Basically, you either have to list him on your policy or specifically exclude him from your policy, which should be doable, but then he won't have any coverage, which is bad, mmkay?

As others have posted, your real choices are to have him get a policy of his own or add him to yours. If he moves out and doesn't have "regular" access to the vehicles (as in, he has to ask specific permission to borrow the car), he will be covered under your policy as anyone else you let borrow a car would be.

That said, I went for many years living with other licensed drivers in the same household and never put them on my insurance (nor specifically excluded them), but they always had their own insurance to cover them if they were driving my car.

Progressive, at least, has an easy mechanism for doing the exclusion on their website. You put in all the information as if you were putting them on your policy and rather than saying they drive one of the cars, you put "excluded" instead. Surely state farm can do the same thing, although you can't do such things on the web.

FWIW, he should be able to borrow grandma's car as is without being specifically added to her insurance, unless she gives him regular access to it without asking, but as with everything unclear about insurance, read the policy to be sure.
posted by wierdo at 7:07 AM on February 1, 2007

From someone who has been in a wreck (just a fender-bender, fortunately) with an uninsured 18-year-old when I was 17 and paying out the butt for insurance, PLEASE GET HIM INSURED. I know it's expensive, but everyone else has to deal with expensive insurance for teenagers too. It might help some to list him as the "primary driver" on your least powerful/fun car.
posted by cebailey at 7:08 AM on February 1, 2007

Starting when I was fifteen point five, until I was around 22, every year State Farm would send my mother a notice of cancellation of her auto insurance because I was not listed on her policy even though I did not get my license until I was 23. She had to call and have a huge argument each time, (them: What if she steals your car? her: She can't! she doesn't know how to drive!!) They were incredibly resistant (and rude!) each time, in spite of the ridiculousness of insuring a non-driver. To add insult to injury, most of those years I didn't even live in the same city.

So, yeah.. if he's not on your policy, he's as good as uninsured on your cars, and even if he will never drive your cars if they find out, they may cancel your policy unless you add him. Sucks.
posted by everybody polka at 7:15 AM on February 1, 2007

When I was learning how to drive, I had to be added to my parents' policy. However, the insurance rate depended on what vehicle I was going to be driving as my primary vehicle.

My Dad had an old 1957 pickup, so he put that on the policy as my main vehicle (even though no one ever drove it). I was still insured on the other vehicles, but this lowered the cost of the insurance somewhat.

So, you may be able to reduce your costs depending on what vehicle you would list as the primary vehicle.
posted by Ostara at 7:34 AM on February 1, 2007

(Incidentally, a motorcycle for a 19-year-old is rarely a way to save on insurance.)

Mendel, could you please elaborate? I always held the assumption that since motorcycles had less potential to cause property damage, that rates would be much lower. My motorcycling friends often times cited this as their reason for owning a bike.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 7:48 AM on February 1, 2007

I thought he was being tongue in cheek in that 19 year olds with motorcycles are likely to be USING that insurance.
posted by agregoli at 7:59 AM on February 1, 2007

I'm in a similar situation. Yes, your son has to have insurance. If not on your policy (which will be a significant but probably manageable increase), on his own (which will likely be prohibitively expensive).

In Texas, it works like this (not sure if Florida is different)- if there are fewer cars than drivers, the highest risk driver automatically gets the most expensive (to insure) car assigned to him as his primary car. The way around this is to get him his own car. If you were, for instance, to buy a $2000 clunker for him and just put bare liability on it, you would probably save at least that much in insurance costs in the first year or two.
posted by Doohickie at 8:37 AM on February 1, 2007

What state are you in?

In my state, if I borrow a friend's car then my friend's insurance on that car covers me regardless if I'm on my friend's insurance and also regardless of my own car insurance policy (if I have or not).

I think this situation is similar enough that if your son isn't driving any vehicle regularly then this "borrow a vehicle" policy may apply. However, if you are all under the same "household" then maybe not.

In the end, I think it would be best for you to cross your t's and dot your i's on this one. Insurance companies spend a lot of time and money trying weesle their way out of giving you (or the person you wreck into) money.
posted by nickerbocker at 8:44 AM on February 1, 2007

What? A couple thousand for adding a newly-licensed male to your policy? That's pretty ridiculous. Even with four of us on the policy (two of which were new drivers at one time), when we were with Nationwide, my family "only" paid ~$3000/year, which was pretty ridiculous (no accidents, no tickets for any of us; none of us owned new cars, we've switched since then).

Agreed with the people who said insure him as the principal under the least powerful/expensive vehicle. However, make sure it's really going to be the one insured for the least. My 1995 Beretta, even though it was older, cheaper, and crappier, was classified as a "sporty" car, and thus insurance went up for more for that car than my current 1998 Escort.

You also might wanna all go to defensive driving school, if that'll get you a reduction on your insurance. Here in NY, we offer a 10% insurance reduction for defensive driving school.
posted by Verdandi at 8:44 AM on February 1, 2007

They will very likely get the information from the State Licensing Bureau, and charge you, so you might as well just deal with it. I vote for the 19 year old paying his own insurance, to learn the true cost of cars, driving and accidents.
posted by theora55 at 8:53 AM on February 1, 2007

if he goes out and gets his own policy, his individual insurance will probably be more expensive than the increase in your own policy. if he can't afford to pay the difference in your policy after adding him to it, it's very unlikely he'll be able to afford his own.

the only real benefit to him getting his own policy is the release of liability.
if you trust your kid to behave responsibly behind the wheel then it would be relatively safe to have him on your policy and save him a lot of money. if he's a reckless meth-addicted stunt junkie, he will be a liability to you and you definitely want to be distanced from him.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 9:05 AM on February 1, 2007

Ok, I know the temptation to weasel out of insuring him is great. If you do that, it may make him completely unable to get insurance outside of the high risk big money low coverage fly-by-nite carrier or state insurance pool. This is over and above the legal trouble everyone will find themselves in should he get into a wreck. Him, because he was in the wreck; you because your name is on the car title, he lives in your house, and you failed to insure a member of your household driving your car.

He's 19. Make him pay for the difference in premium. This may mean he has to get a dreaded J-o-b. You may want to use this opportunity to shop around and make sure you are getting the best insurance deal available to you.
posted by ilsa at 9:55 AM on February 1, 2007

Motorcycle insurance rates for young male riders can be extremely high, especially for high-displacement bikes. I believe this is because accident rates for those riders are also extremely high. On the other hand, insurance for a low-displacement scooter or moped can be much cheaper than for a car.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:55 AM on February 1, 2007

What? A couple thousand for adding a newly-licensed male to your policy? That's pretty ridiculous.

Maybe, but that's SoFla for ya. In my early thirties I moved from Miami to Northern Virginia. I upped my coverage amounts by a factor of 20 and my premiums dropped 40%.

To answer the question, yes, you need to tell them. Your agreement with them specifies that you have to and this is important because if you violate that agreement they don't have to pay your claims. Don't breach your agreement. It's not worth saving $2,000 a year when the risk is them not paying the $100,000 if there's an accident.

It's entirely possible that you could have a different member of your family have an accident and they refuse to pay because they discover you're in breach of contract on this. Don't give an insurance company an excuse not to pay out - they'll take it.
posted by phearlez at 11:13 AM on February 1, 2007

Motorcycle insurance rates for young male riders can be extremely high, especially for high-displacement bikes.

it's not so much the displacement as it is the bike type.

my 750cc cruiser cost me hundreds of dollars less per year to insure than any given 750cc sportbike.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 12:33 PM on February 1, 2007

My daughter just got her driver's license (she's 18), and we added her to our policy here in San Francisco.

Formerly, our premium (my wife and I with our 2 cars) was $1500 a year. Now, adding our daughter as a driver (not with a new car), who has all the discounts that are possible (good grades, driver's ed, etc.), our insurance will be $3100 a year. It's all based on the actuarial tables, or so our rep told us.

If you don't put him on your policy, you're placing your assets at risk, should he get into an accident and there's a lawsuit.
posted by jasper411 at 12:38 PM on February 1, 2007

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