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At what age can a teen own a car?


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Question: At what age can a teen own a car in their own name? Can they still be carried on their parent's insurance?

Answer:  State laws vary greatly regarding at what age someone can title a car in their own name. To find out if your state has a minimum age set for placing a car in your name solely and registering it, you need to check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles or like agency.

In general, a juvenile/minor cannot enter into a contract so thus cannot be a sole owner of a motor vehicle. A minor typically cannot own property, his or her parents technically own that property until the child becomes an adult. In many states, if a parent will co-sign on a loan for a car, the juvenile can buy a car, but the parent will be the legal owner.

It varies by state

Many states will require an adolescent to have a parent or guardian sign on any legal documents such as registration, a title and even your car insurance policy. There can be exceptions and that is why it's important to find out about your state's specific laws on this topic.

For example, in Texas there are no age restrictions for an individual to be recorded as the owner of a vehicle. However, the Texas Department of Transportation (DOT) states that insurance companies may impose age restrictions on persons they insure and may charge higher premiums for certain age groups. Since proof of financial responsibility (liability insurance) is a prerequisite to obtaining Texas registration, an individual's ability to obtain this insurance may limit his ability to register his vehicle.

In North Carolina, the DOT states that their laws do not set a minimum age limit as to ownership of a vehicle as long as the owner can sign their name on the application of title. However, a plate cannot be issued without proof of owner having liability insurance on the vehicle and insurance companies normally will require you to have a parent or guardian sign your insurance documents (contract) if you are under 18 years of age and thus still considered a minor in the eyes of the law.

Even those states that will permit a teenager to register a car may require a parent or guardian to sign on any legal documents or contracts since they are still a minor.

For instance, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) states if you are under 18 and want to title a vehicle, your parent or legal guardian must complete a minor consent form. A parent or legal guardian must also accompany you when you appear in front of the Clerk of Courts title office staff to have a vehicle titled in your name in Ohio if you are a minor.

If your state allows you as a teenager to own car in your name only than your parents would need to check with their insurance carrier to see if they could place your vehicle on their policy or not. Technically your parents would not have insurable interest in your vehicle to insure it so they may not be able to do so. This means the vehicle's insurance would need to be in your name as the registered owner.

Once you find out your state's laws for titling and registering a vehicle as a minor, and if you cannot place a car on your parent's policy, you can contact insurance companies for quotes and for their guidelines on a minor obtaining a policy. Most insurance companies will require a parent or guardian to sign on an auto insurance policy with you since it is a legal document.

The minimum age that one can buy a car and title it in their name and then obtain car insurance will differ depending upon state laws and insurance companies' guidelines.

To see if your particular state has any laws or regulations regarding the minimum age to buy an auto insurance policy and as a minor if there are any consent forms for a parent/guardian to sign, contact your state's insurance regulator. This state agency can tell you if there are any extra measures you may need to take to have a car insurance policy until you become 18 and considered an adult.

Whether the car ends up in your name or your parents, it will be important to look for discounts for teenagers for car insurance.  Teen car insurance is quite high due to the risk this inexperienced class of drivers pose to car insurance providers.


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1 Responses to "At what age can a teen own a car?"
  1. ONEAQUAGAL

    In Texas, can I reclaim/change the car title (owner) with the owner signing the title over to me? Previously the car was titled to a minor for which I am the legal guardian of. The minor moved out and abandoned the car, previously titled to him as a formality. Now I'm trying to resolve car issue without cooperation from said minor.

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