The short answer is “yes.” A 17 year old can usually get car insurance, but as a minor, a parent or guardian will be required to sign on the policy with the teen so a teen’s parents are financially responsible for the policy.

Teen drivers are high-risk drivers as they are inexperienced and are at a high risk of motor vehicle accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

“In 2019, almost 2,400 teens in the United States aged 13-19 were killed and about 258,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes,” the CDC says.

“In addition, motor vehicle crash deaths among teens 15-19 years of age resulted in about $4.8 billion in medical and work loss costs for crashes that occurred in 2018.”

Key Highlights
  • The age of majority in most states is 18, except for Nebraska and Alabama where the age of majority is 19.
  • Contacting your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles is the best way to understand the requirements of the state like what is the age at which someone can title a car in their own name in the given state.
  • If the state you live in allows a teenager to own and register a car in their name, the burden is upon the teen’s parents to check with their insurance carrier to see whether the teen’s car can be covered under their policy.
  • Emancipated minors are allowed to buy, register and insure a vehicle in their own name.

Can a teenager get their own car insurance policy?

In order to legally sign an auto insurance policy or another legally-binding contract, a person must be of the age of majority, and a 17-year does not typically meet that requirement.

The age of majority is the age when a child legally becomes an adult according to the state. Once a person reaches the age of majority, they can consent to medical treatment, sign a contract and join the military.

The age of majority varies by state but in all states, it is at least 18. There are a couple of states where it is even higher – Alabama and Nebraska put their age of majority at 19.

What all of this means is that in most states, a teen cannot buy or insure a car completely on their own. A minor typically cannot own property in most states, so the minor’s parents would own that property until the child becomes an adult.

In most states, a parent will have to cosign on a loan for a car as well as any other financial paperwork the dealership requires. So, while a juvenile can be a party to an auto purchase, the parent will be the legal owner.

Read our expert's recommendation on how old you have to be to buy car insurance.

What is the average cost of car insurance for a teen?

For a 17-year-old driver, car insurance costs about $5,925 for a year of full coverage on their own policy, which is $4,000 above the national average ($1,758) for drivers age 30.

Check out our detailed guide on How much is car insurance for a 17 year old?

Can you transfer a car title to a 17-year-old?

As with other car ownership issues, it varies depending on the state you call home. State laws vary regarding at what age someone can title a car in their own name. The best way to determine what your state requires is to contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (or the Department of Public Safety in Texas) for details on local laws.

Following are a few state examples to highlight the various legal differences:

Texas

The Lone Star state doesn't have an age restriction in place for drivers wanting to be recorded on the title and registration as the owner of a vehicle. This means that you can title a car in a teen's name or even your 10-year-old's name if that sounds good to you.

However, Texas requires proof of financial responsibility (liability insurance) to register a vehicle so in most cases, a 17-year-old will not be able to purchase a policy without the help of a parent or guardian.

North Carolina

North Carolina doesn't have a minimum age limit when it comes to ownership of a vehicle. A car can be titled in a minor's name as long as the owner can sign their name on the application of title.

While you can technically title a car in a minor's name, a license plate cannot be issued without proof of liability insurance on the vehicle. Since most insurance companies won't write policies for minors, the parent or guardian will be required to sign the insurance documents (contract).

Ohio

The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) allows teens to title a car but a parent or guardian must sign a form. If a driver younger than 18 wants to title a vehicle, their parent or legal guardian must complete a minor consent form and must also accompany the minor when they appear in front of the Clerk of Courts title office to have a vehicle titled in a minor's name.

Can a 17 year old register a car in their name?

If your state allows a teenager to own and register a car in their name, the parent will need to see whether they can place the teen's vehicle on their policy. Your best bet is to contact insurance companies regarding their guidelines regarding a minor obtaining their own auto insurance policy.

The best way to determine if your particular state has any regulations regarding the minimum age to buy an auto insurance policy is to contact your state’s insurance regulator.

Read more about what is the difference between title and registration?

How can one save on a car insurance for 17-year-old drivers?

Insurance is pretty easy when a teen drives a vehicle owned by the parents. It can get a bit more complicated if the teen owns the vehicle.

If the state you live in allows a teenager to own and register a car in their name, it will be up to the parent to check with their insurance carrier to see if they could place the teen's vehicle on the parent's policy or not. Technically, the parents do not have an insurable interest in the vehicle, so the insurance company may refuse to add the teen's car to the parent's policy.

If this is the case, the vehicle's auto insurance needs to be in the 17 year old’s name. This can be difficult due to the age of majority issue as teens cannot legally enter into a contract so insurers are very reluctant to write an insurance policy for an underaged driver.

In most cases, the best advice is to contact insurance companies regarding their coverage requirements for a minor obtaining their own policy. While there may be some insurers who will agree to put a policy in a teen’s name, most will require a parent or guardian to sign or co-sign the car insurance policy. But in most cases, the parent will be on the hook for the cost of premiums.

Regardless of whether the policy ends up in a teen's name or a parent's name, prepare for a massive increase in your insurance bills. Teens are expensive to insure and, in most cases, you can expect your premium to at least double.

Check out our Parents' guide on what is the best and cheapest way to insure teenage drivers

Tip iconInsurance Info

We ran the numbers, and this is what we found for a sample family that owns a 2019 Honda Accord that is driven by a 40-year-old man buying full coverage when a 16-year old teen was added to the policy:

The household's car insurance bill rose an average of 152% with a teenage boy being the most expensive addition. For a male teen, the premium jumped up 176%, compared with 129% for teenage girls. In California, the rates skyrocketed by more than 200%.

Emancipated minors are the exception to the rule

There is an exception to this rule: Emancipated minors are allowed to buy, register and insure a vehicle in their own name. Emancipation is the process by which a minor is legally freed from the control of their parent or guardian.

There are a number of ways that a minor can be emancipated, however, the most common methods are:

  • Minor enlisted in the military: Enlisting as a minor requires parental consent.
  • Getting married: In most states, this requires parental consent.
  • Court order from a judge: This doesn't require parental consent.

Once emancipated, a minor is legally able to enter into a contract, including insurance car policies. Emancipation laws vary by state.

Sources:

  1. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention “Teen Drivers: Get the Facts.” Accessed May 2022.

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