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Why must my teen be listed as a primary driver?


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Question: I am a single mom with two children; one is of driving age (16).  I have two cars and want my son listed to be insured for both, but not as a primary driver.  My insurer told me that I can’t be the primary driver on both cars because there are two drivers in the home, is this true? The insurance premium this way is outrageous, what can I do?

Answer: Most parents would agree with you that the cost to insure a teen driver is outrageous.  Unfortunately, insurance companies have the statistics to back up their reasoning for such rates – young drivers are high-risk drivers because the possibility of them being in an accident is very high. (See “What a teenager does to your car insurance rates”) 

And you’re correct; it doesn’t help your annual premiums that your licensed teenager is being listed as a primary driver on a car.

While it may be frustrating that your teenager is listed as a primary driver, it is standard in the car insurance industry that each car in a household can have one, and only one, primary driver, unless there are more cars than drivers on a policy, and then all other drivers of the cars are listed as secondary or occasional drivers. The primary driver of a car is the person that uses it the most.

Why insurance companies do this is because they assume that you will use one car more than the other and that the other licensed driver will then use the other car as his or her main vehicle. While this doesn’t always hold true in every household, it’s often the case – enough so that car insurance companies employ it as basic rule when issuing policies.

One thing that you can do to try and help lower your car insurance rates is see if you can have a say in which car your teen is associated with as a primary driver.

If you can place your young driver with the cheapest car, then that should save you some on your auto insurance premium. But don’t mislead your insurance company; if your teenager really drives the more expensive car the most, then you should inform your insurer of that.

A second way to save on car insurance is to exclude your teenager from one car. 

If your teenager doesn’t drive one car at all (say it’s your keepsake car that only you drive), you can see if your state laws and insurance guidelines will allow you to exclude your young driver from this vehicle.

This way you should save some money on your policy since he wouldn’t be rated on this one car, even as an occasional driver.  But if you do this, don’t let your teen drive the car at any time since he wouldn’t have any coverage if in an accident.

It’s possible that you won’t be able to assign the drivers to the cars (many auto insurance companies automatically assign the riskiest driver with the most expensive car) or exclude your son from one of the cars. If that is the case, then you definitely need to shop around with other auto insurance carriers for a cheaper priced policy.

When shopping, remember to find out which discounts are available to you.  See if your son is eligible for a good student discount or if you can get an extra discount if your teen takes a certain driving course.  

Comparison shopping will allow you to see what auto insurance providers will offer you the best car insurance rates for your specific set of rating factors, which could result in you saving thousands of dollars a year.    (See “Pocket $1,102 by just shopping around”)

More articles from Penny Gusner



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