Before you get your driver’s license, you must learn to drive with a learner’s permit. But even teens with a learner’s permit must have car insurance.

In most cases, a driver with a learner’s permit will be covered by the insurance policy associated with their driving car. But sometimes, a driver with a learner’s permit may want independent coverage. So, can you get car insurance with a permit? The answer is yes.

Key Highlights
  • As soon as you get your driver’s license and purchase a car, you must insure it.
  • Joining a parent’s policy is the cheapest way to get car insurance as a teen with a learner’s permit.
  • Your options will be limited if you need car insurance with a learner’s permit.
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Written by:
Chris Kissell
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.
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Edited by:
Laura Longero
Executive Editor
Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.
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Reviewed by:
Dr. David Dorroh Wood
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Industry Expert
Dr. Wood serves on the national faculty of the National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research, teaching in the Certified Risk Manager (CRM) program and as education consultant. Wood worked as an independent agent prior to his career in education. His research interests include risk financing, solvency issues and agency/brokerage operations.

What is a learner’s permit or driver’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. You must 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 with 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. 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.

Can you get 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.

“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 buy car insurance with a learner’s permit.

If you are a newly licensed minor and your parents already have a policy, they should add you to their car insurance policy — you can’t purchase car insurance on your own until you’re the age of majority in your state.

Learn about the 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 like any other driver. If 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 when shopping for car insurance is to get several quotes to ensure you get the best price.

However, it gets tricky – and expensive – if you own a vehicle. Auto insurance companies won’t insure teens younger than the age of majority in your state 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
DriverTeen 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 car insurance requirements for people who are learning to drive?

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 must carry enough car insurance coverage to be fully reimbursed for any losses.

What types of car insurance are offered to people who are learning to drive?

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 that the named insured cannot be younger than 18.

Walker says insurers don’t typically sell car insurance policies to drivers with a learner’s permit on their own.

“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?

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. This will be a parent’s auto insurance policy for most new drivers.

Car insurance is expensive for new drivers, especially if they are young. It will be much more costly to purchase a policy in your name than to be added to another car insurance policy as a driver with a learner’s permit. However, it is crucial to note that their rates will increase if you are added as a new driver to a parent’s policy.

Fortunately, these car insurance rates should drop as new drivers age and gain more driving experience. New drivers also can help their parents save money on auto insurance by qualifying for discounts.

Your insurer may offer price breaks for new drivers who:

  • Maintain good grades in school.
  • Take a recognized driving education course.

Can you buy and register a car with a learner’s permit?

Yes. As long as you have the cash, nothing can 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. Contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to determine registration requirements.

You can register a vehicle in many states as long as you have official identification. For example, in Massachusetts, you can register a car 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.

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.

Remember, registering a car and driving it are two different things. To legally drive a car, you must have 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. You need car insurance to drive, but companies may require you to be added to a parent’s 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 learner’s permit need car 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 vehicle.

Guide: How much does car insurance in California cost?

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

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 a learner’s permit in New York?

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

Minors are not allowed to ride in cars driven by those with only 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.

Laura Longero

Ask the Insurance Expert

Laura Longero

Executive Editor

Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

John McCormick

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John McCormick

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John is the editorial director for CarInsurance.com, Insurance.com and Insure.com. Before joining QuinStreet, John was a deputy editor at The Wall Street Journal and had been an editor and reporter at a number of other media outlets where he covered insurance, personal finance, and technology.

Leslie Kasperowicz

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Leslie Kasperowicz

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Leslie Kasperowicz is an insurance educator and content creation professional with nearly two decades of experience first directly in the insurance industry at Farmers Insurance and then as a writer, researcher, and educator for insurance shoppers writing for sites like ExpertInsuranceReviews.com and InsuranceHotline.com and managing content, now at CarInsurance.com.

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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.