Auto Insurance Basics

Can You Get Car Insurance With a Driver's Permit?

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You can get car insurance with just a driver’s permit. The cost of your car insurance will simply vary depending upon who you live with. You will have to pay more for auto insurance if you live alone, but can save money if you live with your parents or spouse by joining their existing auto insurance plan. If you don’t already have a car, you can purchase one without a driver’s license, but you will need an auto insurance policy in order to register and drive the vehicle. There are several discounts available to insurance policyholders to bring costs down when adding you to their insurance plan.

How Who You Live With Impacts Your Car Insurance Coverage

If you are a driver with a learner’s permit, also known as a provisional driver, you may be covered if you live with someone like a parent or a spouse with an existing car insurance policy. Below we outline how who you live with impacts your eligibility to be covered by an existing car insurance policy.

Living with Parents

If you have a learner’s permit and are living with your parents then you may be insured under their existing policy. However, you shouldn’t assume you are covered by your parent’s auto insurance as it varies depending on the insurer. The best practice is to communicate with your household’s current insurance company and ask if coverage is extended to you as a provisional driver. A few of the reasons why it’s important to ask your parent’s insurer about coverage for yourself as a first-time driver are:

Awareness: Not every auto insurance company has the same policy when it comes to drivers with a learner’s permit. Transparency is critical when you plan to join a car insurance plan as a provisional driver because you may not be covered under an existing policy. This could cause issues with your parent’s existing insurer if you get into an accident. Although it isn’t likely, if you fail to notify your household’s insurer about yourself as a new driver then the insurance company could outright deny or cancel your parent’s coverage.

Costs: Car insurance premiums tend to rise when a first-time driver, teen driver or a young driver is added to an insurance policy due to the increased likelihood of an accident. We recommend you ask your parent’s insurer about discounts as those available vary by provider.

Special Situations: Talking to your parent’s auto insurance company about your inclusion as a new driver on the policy will let you know about any requirements for teens or new drivers that you should be aware of. For example, some car insurance companies require you to be listed on the insurance policy once you obtain a license. Being aware of these specific scenarios will help you avoid breaching your parent’s insurance policy and stay covered.

As a new or teen driver you may stay on your parent’s auto insurance indefinitely as long as you reside within the same household. However, if you have a car title under your name, then you will need to obtain a separate car insurance policy once you are licensed. If your parent wants to obtain insurance coverage for you then the car should be registered under your parent’s name. Staying insured under a parent’s plan is cost effective for you as a young driver.

Living with Spouse or Significant Other

If you are living with a spouse or significant other with an auto insurance policy then you might be covered under their existing plan. You should ask your spouse’s insurer if you are covered as a provisional driver. Insurers have the right to deny or cancel your spouse’s insurance policy if you do not make them aware of your status as a provisional driver. Coverage will depend on the insurance company your spouse is covered under.

If you aren’t married then the cost of the existing auto insurance policy will go up when you are added. If you are married then you can get discounts by bundling car insurance policies and other forms of insurance with the same company. Getting married usually has a positive effect on your auto insurance costs. For example, men under 25, often considered a higher-risk group, usually get lower auto insurance rates after marriage since they are seen as having a lower risk profile. You should obtain a quote from your spouse’s insurance company to see if combining policies makes sense for you.

Living Alone

Unfortunately, living independently means that you are not covered by either your parent’s, spouse's or significant other’s car insurance policy. It is difficult to obtain car insurance while living alone with just a driver’s permit. If you are unlicensed and living alone then you can increase the likelihood of finding an insurance provider by reaching out to smaller insurance companies focusing on your particular area. It is often not an option to obtain coverage through national insurance companies for you as a first-time driver. You should be prepared to pay more for your auto insurance policy. One of the exceptions is college students who may stay on their parent’s auto insurance policy as long as they reside at the same address as their parents while away from their college domicile.

Can You Register a Car Without a License?

You are able to purchase vehicles with just a driver’s permit since a license is not necessary to buy a car. However, proof of auto insurance or financial responsibility is a requirement for vehicle registration in most states. This means that if you are an uninsured, or have a learner’s permit, you could purchase a vehicle, but it would serve little purpose as you couldn’t drive it on public roads. If you have a suspended license and a car insurance policy then you may register, but not operate a vehicle. In fact, driving a car with a suspended license would make you susceptible to fines and even jail time depending on the state of the infraction.

How Parents Can Lower Their Auto Insurance Costs

Adding a young driver to your auto insurance policy often results in a rise in the premium that you can expect to pay. If you are adding a provisional driver, especially a teen driver, to your existing car insurance plan then you should shop around between insurance providers. Auto insurance costs, when you have a teen driver on your policy, vary substantially between different companies. Car insurance companies often offer discounts for safe driving, bundling other insurance policies, adding vehicles to the insurance plan, or having a vehicle that is deemed safe. While there are dozens of discounts available to you as a policyholder, here are the most commonly applied:

  • Showing proof of your child’s academic achievement
  • Enrolling your child in driver safety classes in excess of minimum requirements
  • Maintaining a clean driving record
  • Improving your credit score
  • Enrolling in automatic bill payment
  • Ensuring your child is only operating a vehicle during school vacations and holidays if they are a college student
  • Equipping your vehicle with an anti-theft device
  • Insuring multiple cars with the same insurance company
  • Bundling all of your policies with the same insurer
  • Switching to a different auto insurance company
  • Participating in early-renewal discounts

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