Before you get your driver’s license, you must learn to drive. But even those who merely have a learner’s permit still must make sure the car they drive has auto insurance coverage.

In most cases, a driver with a learner’s permit will be covered by the insurance policy associated with they’re driving. But in some cases, a driver with a learner’s permit may want their own coverage.

So, can you get car insurance with a permit? The answer is yes.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about car insurance as a driver with a learner’s permit.

Key Highlights
  • As soon as you get your driver’s license and purchase your own car, you will need to insure it.
  • Joining a parent’s policy is the cheapest way to get car insurance as a teen with a permit.
  • Your options will be limited if you need to insure a car but only have a learner’s permit.

What is a learner’s permit for drivers?

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. You are typically required to obtain a driver’s permit before legally driving a car. Such permits go by many names, including driver’s permits, learner’s licenses, provisional licenses or minor permits.

With a permit, you can drive under restricted circumstances as long as a fully licensed adult driver accompanies you. Eventually, you will graduate to a full driver’s license. In most states, you can apply for a learner’s permit once you are 15, although this varies from state to state.

How does a learner’s permit work?

Student drivers can earn a driver’s permit once they fulfill their state’s requirements for a permit. Drivers with a learner’s permit are only allowed to drive with a licensed driver who is 21 or older in the front seat. There are strict requirements for moving violations and renewals in each state.

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, but it doesn’t have to be on your own policy.

“Most young drivers with a learner’s permit are likely covered under their parent’s policy, and premiums shouldn’t increase until they are legally licensed,” says Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

If you’re younger than 18, you can’t insure a car with a learner’s permit.

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 be easier and save you money. Being listed on your parent’s policy is still costly, but it’s usually more affordable than getting a policy of your own.

Learn more about average car insurance rates for 16-year-olds.

How do you get car insurance with a learner’s permit?

Drivers who want car insurance with a learner’s permit can shop for car insurance just like any other driver. As long as you’re driving with a licensed adult in a family member’s car, the family member’s insurance policy should cover you.

The most important thing to do anytime you’re shopping for car insurance is to get several quotes to make sure you’re getting the best price.

However, it gets tricky – and expensive – if you own a vehicle. Auto insurance companies typically won’t insure teens younger than the state’s age of maturity because an auto policy is a legally binding contract, which you can’t enter until you’re an adult. And if you get your own policy, you’ll be paying high rates – the average price for a 16-year-old driver with a full-coverage policy is $7,625 per year.

Car insurance rates for 16 and 17-year-olds
Gender/ageTeen policyParent’s policy with a teen
16-year-old female$6,782$4,144
16-year-old male$7,625$4,462
17-year-old female$5,576$3,861
17-year-old male$6,272$4,156

What are the requirements for car insurance with a learner’s permit?

The vehicle must be insured if you are driving a car – even if you don’t have a driver’s license. So, at the very least, the vehicle must be insured for the minimum amount required by your state’s laws.

Also, remember that if you have a learner’s permit and damage a vehicle, you’ll face the same consequences as a fully licensed driver. So, drivers with learner’s permits still must carry enough coverage to be fully reimbursed for any losses they incur.

What types of insurance are offered to drivers with learner’s permits?

If you are younger than 18, many car insurance companies will require that you have a parent or guardian co-sign the policy. Most car insurance companies have underwriting restrictions saying that the named insured cannot be younger than 18.

Walker says insurers don’t typically insure drivers with a learner’s permit on their own policies and it will be harder to find and much more expensive.

“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,” she says. “So, you’ll need to shop around for a higher-risk or non-standard company. An independent agent will likely be your best bet.”

How can you 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 a parent’s 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 you buy and register a car with a learner’s 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.

However, you may not be able to register the car until you get a license. 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.

You can register a vehicle in many states as long as you have official identification. For example, in Massachusetts, you can register a vehicle without a driver’s license if you have a Massachusetts ID or a Social Security Number.

In Colorado, you must provide proof of insurance and proof of vehicle emissions, but a driver’s license is not mentioned on the state’s DMV site.

In Delaware and Rhode Island, you need a valid driver’s license to complete the registration process. You must contact the local police department for a VIN inspection and possess a current Rhode Island driver’s license or out-of-state license with proof of residency and insurance. Within five business days of registering, a safety inspection must be performed.

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

Final thoughts: Car insurance for drivers with a learner’s permit

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.

And insurance companies may require you to be added to a parent’s insurance policy if you are going to drive their car with a permit.

FAQ: Car insurance for drivers with learner’s permits

Do drivers with a permit need insurance in California?

All vehicles in California must be insured before they take to the state’s roads. It is illegal for anyone to drive a car that is not insured. California requires liability insurance to register your car.

Guide: How much does car insurance in California cost?

Who can be in the car with a driver on a learner’s permit?

There are many restrictions on those with a driving permit. 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.

Can you drive alone with your driver’s permit in New York?

Can you have a minor in the car with a permitted driver?

Minors typically are not allowed to ride in cars driven by those who only have a learner’s permit.

Can 16-year-olds drive alone on a learner’s permit in Florida?

Resources & Methodology

Sources:

California Department of Insurance. “Automobile Insurance Information Guide.” Accessed July 2022.
Colorado Department of Revenue. “Registration Requirements.” Accessed July 2022.
Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles. “Vehicle Services Titling.” Accessed July 2022.
Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. “Identity Requirements for Vehicle Registration.”  Accessed July 2022.
Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles. “Frequently Asked Questions.” Accessed July 2022.

Methodology:

CarInsurance.com commissioned Quadrant Information Services in 2022 to field rates for auto coverage data by ZIP code for 16-year-old and 17-year-old drivers.

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Contributing Researcher

Chris Kissell is a Denver-based writer and editor with work featured on U.S. News & World Report, MSN Money, Fox Business, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Money Talks News and more.