The only way for a teen – or even an adult – to learn to drive is to practice. That means putting in many hours behind the wheel when you have a learner’s permit, but before you get a driver’s license.

However, this raises an obvious question: “Can you get car insurance with a permit?” The answer is “yes.” But it’s important to understand the details of how this works.

We’ve done the research to equip you with everything you need to know about making sure you're covered as a permit driver. Read on for more.

What is a learner’s permit?

A learner's permit is a restricted license that allows first-time drivers to get behind the wheel and practice before earning an official driver's license. Typically, you are required to obtain a driver's permit before you can legally drive a car.

Such permits go by many names, including driver's permit, learner's license, provisional license or minor permit.

With a permit, you are allowed to drive under restricted circumstances as long as you are accompanied by a fully licensed adult driver. Once you have passed your driving test, you typically will be eligible for an intermediate driver's license. Eventually, you will graduate to a full license.

In most states, you can apply for a learner's permit once you are 15, although this varies from state to state.

Who can be in the car with a permit driver?

There are many driving permit restrictions. For example, wondering who can be in the car with permit drivers? Laws vary from state to state. But in many places, a driver with a learner's permit must be accompanied by a fully licensed adult. Age requirements vary from 18 to 21.

Can you have a minor in the car with a permit? Minors typically are not allowed to ride in cars driven by those who only have a learner's permit.

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Do you need car insurance with a learner’s permit?

Yes, you need to be covered by an auto insurance policy if you are driving with a learner's permit. So, you will need car insurance with a permit. But car insurance for a learner driver doesn’t necessarily equate to purchasing your own policy.

If you are learning to drive, and are operating a car insured by the owner, that person's coverage usually extends to you.

Teens living at home and driving their parent's insured car are typically covered by the parental policy. However, it's recommended that you confirm this with your car insurance company.

Although teen drivers generally don't have to be added to their parent's policy until they are licensed, there are exceptions. 

Some car insurance companies' policies will automatically extend to drivers with a learner’s permit. Other car insurance companies require anyone old enough to drive who is living in the household to be added to the policy as an included driver.

If you are a newly licensed minor and your parents already have a policy, you should see if you can be added to their policy for coverage. This will not only be easier but can save you money, as car insurance for young drivers is very expensive.

Being placed on your parent’s policy is still costly, but it's usually more affordable than getting a policy of your own.

Review average rates for this scenario by reading our guide, "Car insurance for a 16-year-old."

What auto insurance can I get with a permit?

With some car insurance companies, it’s possible to get a policy with only a learner's permit. But this varies from company to company. So, make sure to check with auto insurance providers so you understand their rules.

In some cases, the car insurance company might require you to start the policy with a driver who has a valid license until you have your own license.

Your age may also be a factor in whether you can start your own auto insurance policy with just a learner’s permit. If you are under 18, many car insurance companies will require that you have a parent or guardian sign on the policy with you, since you are still a minor and a car insurance policy is a legal contract.

Most states require someone 18 years old or older to sign the documents to make them binding. Also, most car insurance companies have underwriting restrictions saying that the named insured cannot be under the age of 18.

How to save money on car insurance with a learner’s permit

What is the cheapest way to insure a learner driver?

If you have a learner’s permit, the best way to save money on car insurance is to be added to the policy that covers your household. For most new drivers, this will be their parents’ auto insurance policy.

Car insurance is expensive for new drivers, particularly if they are young. It will be much more expensive to purchase a policy in your own name than to add yourself to another car insurance policy. However, it is crucial to note that if you are added as a new driver to your parents’ policy, their rates will jump. 

Fortunately, these car insurance rates should drop over time as new drivers age and gain more driving experience. New drivers also can help their parents save money on auto insurance by qualifying for certain discounts. Your insurer may offer price breaks for new drivers who

  • Maintain good grades in school
  • Take a recognized driving education course
  • Attend school at least 100 miles from home and don’t bring a car with them.

Can I buy and register a car with a permit?

can you buy a car with a permit? Yes. As long as you have the cash, there is nothing to prevent you from purchasing a car, even if you don’t have a driver’s license.

can you register a car with a permit? In this case, rules differ from state to state. So, it is important to contact your state’s department of motor vehicles to determine the requirements for registering a vehicle.

In many states, you can register a vehicle as long as you have some form of official identification. For example, Massachusetts says you can register a vehicle without a driver's license as long as you have a Massachusetts ID, or a Social Security number.

In Colorado, you simply need secure and verifiable identification information to register your vehicle. The state says a driver permit qualifies as such a form of ID.

By contrast, states like Delaware and Rhode Island specifically state that you need a valid driver’s license to complete the registration process.

It's important to remember that registering a car and driving it are two different things. To legally drive a car, you will be required to obtain a driver's license.

The conclusion on insuring a car as a permit driver

When you learn to drive a car, it opens a new world of possibilities. Do you need car insurance with a learner’s permit? Yes. You should never get behind the wheel without the proper insurance.

So, as you learn to drive, you will need learner's permit insurance. Fortunately, car insurance is tied to the vehicle, not the individual driver. So, if you are driving someone else’s car, that person’s insurance will cover you. Some insurance companies may require you to be added to your parents’ insurance policy if you are going to regularly drive their car while you are driving with a permit.

Can you register and insure a car with a permit?

That depends upon your state. If you are unsure, ask your state’s department of motor vehicles.

Either way, as soon as you get your driver’s license and purchase your own car, you will need to insure it.  That will either mean joining your parents’ policy or purchasing your own policy, which tends to be expensive. Joining your parents' policy is likely the cheapest way to get car insurance as a teen.