car
Get Personalized Car Insurance Quotes
car
! *Please enter valid Zip Code
A good driver means:

Have no accidents or violations in the last 3 years.

Don't have a DUI.

Don't need an SR22.

*Please select one

Yes, the quick answer is that a 17-year-old can almost always get car insurance, but since they are minors, a parent or guardian typically will be required to sign on the policy with the teen, which means that in the end, the parents are financially responsible for the policy.

Teens cannot sign a contract

In order to legally sign an insurance policy or other contract, a person must be of the "age of majority" and a 17-year does not usually meet that requirement. This is the age when a child legally becomes an adult in the eyes of the state. Once a person reaches the age of majority they can consent to medical treatment, sign a contract and join the military if they wish.

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 his or her parents would technically own that property until the child becomes an adult. In most states, a parent will have to co-sign on a loan for a car as well as any other financial paperwork the dealership requires. Basically, while a juvenile can technically buy a car, the parent will be the legal owner.

Can a 17-year-old title a car in their name?

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 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 teens name or even your ten-year old's name if that sounds good to you.

However, Texas requires proof of financial responsibility (liability insurance) to register a vehicle and in most cases a 17-year old will not be able to purchase a policy without the help of their parents 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 names 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 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 under 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.

Insurance usually requires an adult

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 themselves.

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 insurance would need to be in the teen's name. This can be difficult due to the age of majority issue, teens cannot legally enter into a contract so insurers are very reluctant to write a policy for an underage driver.

In most cases, the best advice is to contact insurance companies regarding their guidelines on a minor obtaining their own policy. While there may be some insurers who will agree to putting a policy in a teens name, most will require a parent or guardian to sign or at least co-sign the policy. Regardless, in most cases the parent will ultimately be on the hook for premiums.

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

Insurance.com ran the numbers, and this is what they found:

A family they created owned a 2019 Honda Accord driven by a 40-year old man buying full coverage. This is what happened when they added a 16-year old teen to the policy:

The household's car insurance bill rose an average of 152% with a teenage boy being the most expensive addition. With a male teen the premium jumped up 176%, compared with 129% for teenage girls. In California, the rates skyrocketed 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 parents or guardian. The parents are freed of the responsibility of the child as well.

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

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

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