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How to save when son goes to boot camp

Question: My son recently entered the Marines and left home for boot camp. He has no car. He is on my auto policy and now they won’t let me remove him. Have you heard of this?  Are all insurance companies like this?  Mine told me it could give me the discount like for kids who go to college without a car but not take my son completely off the policy. 

Answer: It’s not that uncommon for a car insurance company to require you to continue to list someone as a driver while that individual still has your home as the permanent address on his or her driver’s license.

Even if a child moves out on his own, many insurers will mandate that you show proof of the new address, and sometimes a copy of the child’s own auto policy, in order to remove him or her from the policy.

However, insurance companies’ internal guidelines do vary, so not all car insurance companies will require you to continue to insure your son while he is away at boot camp.

It’s quite possible that if you shop around and obtain car insurance with a different car insurance carrier that it will allow you to remove your son from your policy – as long as he is farther than 100 miles away from your home.

You can compare your situation to that of a child who has gone away to college, as your current agent has. 

If the child is still in close proximity to your home, then car insurance companies typically want the child to remain on your policy as a driver.  Why?  Because the insurer assumes that the child will come home on weekends or breaks to visit you -- and drive the household vehicles.  Thus, the insurer will want to continue to charge you for your child as a driver because of the risk it still sees him posing as an occasional driver.

If a child goes away to college, or boot camp in your situation, that is farther than 100 miles away, it’s less likely he or she will come home, except for extended breaks; so many auto insurance providers will allow parents to do one of the following in order to save money:

  • Get a “student away” discount.  It ranges from 5 percent to 25 percent depending upon the car insurance company.
  • Remove the child from the policy.  Some insurers will let you take the child off the policy completely during the time he is away. If the child comes back for an extended period of time and will drive your cars then you’ll need to add him back on as a driver.
  • Exclude the child.  By signing an exclusion form, you would agree that your son won’t be driving your household vehicles and thus you won’t be charged for him as a driver.  But he would be unable to drive your vehicles at any time, even if he came home for a visit.

Your current car insurance carrier is only offering you a discount for your son being away at boot camp; other auto insurers may allow you to take him completely off of your policy. 

The best way to save, by either leaving him or taking him off, is to shop around.

Comparison shopping for car insurance will allow you to see if you leave him on, who will give you the best rates, including discounts for him being away in the military, as well as who will allow you to take him off your policy at this time, and if that is a cheaper choice.

Just make certain that if you go with a company that allows you to remove your son from your policy that you discuss what happens when he comes home to visit. 

Will he be covered as a permissive user, just as if a neighbor every now and then borrows your vehicle, or will you need to place him back on your policy for any periods that he is at your home?

And, if your son wants to get his own car and insurance at some point, make certain he spends the time to shop around since there are military discounts available to him with various car insurance companies.

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