From juggling carpool schedules to keeping track of belongings and homework, many of life’s details require extra coordination when kids go back and forth between two households.
If your kids drive, getting the right car insurance coverage is one task you don’t want to get lost in the shuffle. Here’s what you need to know as a divorced parent about car insurance for teens.
Putting the teen driver on one or both policies
Once you’re divorced, you and your ex will need your own car insurance policies. The rules for whether kids should be listed on one or both parents’ policies are tricky because they vary by situation and by insurance company. In general, some guidelines apply — but the only way to know for sure whether your child is properly covered is for both you and your ex to check with your insurance companies or agents.
If you have primary custody: The teen drivers should be listed on your policy if they spend most of their time at your house. You’ll need to check with your insurer about whether the kids will be covered when driving your ex’s car.
[Adding a teen driver? Comparison shopping can pay off. Find the best rates with NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool.]
If you share joint custody: You and your ex-spouse both will probably need to add the young drivers to your car insurance policies if the kids have regular access to cars at both homes.
If your ex has primary custody: The teen drivers should be listed on your ex-spouse’s policy. Ask your insurer whether you need to list them on your policy if they drive a car at your house.
If your teen driver has a car: Your teen will save money by getting coverage under a parent’s car insurance plan rather than getting a separate policy. NerdWallet research shows teens and their families, on average, can save $3,053 a year by getting coverage under a single policy. Talk to your insurer about which parent’s policy should cover the car, and check whether the teen should be listed as a driver on the other parent’s insurance as well.
Don’t try to hide a teen driver from the insurance company in an effort to save money. The truth will come back to bite you if your kid causes a crash and you end up on the hook for the damage.
Take advantage of car insurance discounts
Adding a teen driver to your policy will increase your rates because teenagers are at higher risk for accidents than more-experienced drivers. The fatal crash rate per mile for 16- to 19-year-old drivers is almost three times higher than for motorists 20 or older, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
A NerdWallet analysis of car insurance quotes nationwide found that, on average, it costs $1,570 a year to add a teen to a family policy covering two cars.
To reduce the financial pain, take advantage of discounts for young drivers. Most insurance companies offer discounts for students who:
- Complete a driver-training course.
- Earn at least a B average in high school or college.
- Attend college at least 100 miles away from home without a car.
It’s also a good idea to shop around for prices at renewal time. Car insurance premiums vary widely by company.
Maintain consistent driving rules at both homes
Studies by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm show that parents can cut their teens’ crash risk in half by setting clear rules about driving and by paying attention to where their kids are going and with whom. Another important step is for parents to require their kids to ask for permission to use the car. Controlling access to the car keys, at least for the first six to 12 months after a teen gets a license, is one of the best things parents can do to keep their kids safe, the researchers say.
How you set rules matters, too. Researchers say making it clear to kids that the rules are in place for their safety — not just to control them — will make it more likely that the teens will share what’s going on in their lives.
One way to set rules is for parents and teens to work together to create a written parent-teen driving agreement. Sample agreements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics are available on the TeenDriverSource.org website.
Of course, your first priority is to keep your kids safe. But preventing tickets and crashes will also help keep your car insurance rates down. If you think insuring a teen driver is expensive, try insuring one with a speeding ticket or an at-fault accident on his record.
Coordinating car insurance for teen drivers can be a little more complicated when you’re divorced. But the extra care you take to make sure your kids have the right coverage and the parental support and guidance they need to drive safely is worth it. To get the best deal on coverage, NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool can help you price policies.
This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by Forbes.
Image via iStock.