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Unlicensed teen crashes car; is family covered?


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Question: My daughter drove our car without permission and got into a car accident. She only has a driver’s permit and was alone at the time. We have her listed on our policy, but we aren’t sure if our policy will cover her since she wasn’t supposed to be driving alone.

Answer:  Chances are that your daughter will be covered since you did have her listed on your policy already as a driver.  When a household member is listed as a driver on the policy, it’s normally assumed that they have access and permission to drive the household vehicles.

Had your daughter not been listed, which some insurers don’t require of young drivers who have only their learner’s permit (and are supposed to be supervised at all times while driving), it’s more likely that claims would be denied by your insurance company.

Ultimately it will be up to the guidelines of your car insurance provider, which are based on state laws they must follow, that will decide if your teenager daughter’s car accident  will be covered by your car insurance policy. If your daughter was cited for driving without a valid license, you should expect the combination of the violation and the accident to drive up your rates quite a bit.

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In any case, you should inform your auto insurer about the accident and facts surrounding it (that your daughter only has a permit and drove alone), and your insurer will tell you if the incident will be covered or not.

If the accident is covered, then your bodily injury liability and property damage liability will pay (up to your chosen limits) for the damages you daughter caused others.  If the limits are exceeded, then your daughter, as the driver, and you, as the car owner, will be held personally responsible for any monies that still need to be paid out to the other party.

Your own car would need to have collision coverage on it to be covered and the associated deductible will apply (perhaps your daughter can pay for this as part of her punishment for taking the car out without your permission).

If your insurer denies the claim, due to your daughter driving against the restriction of her permit, then both you and she will be looked at for compensation for the other party’s damages and damages to your own vehicle.

This accident, plus any offense your daughter may have been cited for like driving without a license, can affect your future car insurance rates. 

Teenagers are a high-risk group for car insurance companies, and your daughter already having an accident and breaking her permit restrictions shows your auto insurer that she is even more of a risk and so likely your rates will go up at your renewal period. 

If your rates do rise, shop around for more affordable auto insurance, there may another insurer that won’t rate the accident as seriously.  And make sure to ask about all the discounts your family may be eligible for, such as a good student discount if your daughter maintains good grades in school.

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