As your teenager approaches the age when he or she can start driving, you might have questions about car insurance. While 16 is the age at which many teenagers can get their driver’s license, they often don’t start driving or get a car until they reach the age of 17. So, can a 17-year-old get their own car insurance? This is a common question, and the answer can be complicated. Ultimately, a 17-year-old can get their own car insurance, but there are some things you might want to know before they sign a policy.
Can Your Teen Get Their Own Insurance?
Many parents wonder if they should insure their teenager’s car separately from their own vehicle. Car insurance providers consider teenagers to be high-risk drivers, which means insuring them is going to be expensive. Many parents think getting their teen their own insurance will save them money. They might also believe they won’t be responsible for any accidents or damages their young driver might cause. Unfortunately, having a separate policy for a 17-year-old can leave coverage gaps that end up costing you more in the long run.
Because someone who is 17 is a minor, a parent or guardian must sign the car insurance policy they’re issued. This means parents are going to be responsible for what happens when their teen driver is behind the wheel.
Someone who wants to legally sign a contract, which is what an insurance policy is, must be of legal age to do so. According to CarInsurance.com, a 17-year-old doesn’t meet the legal age requirement to enter into a contractual agreement. This means they can’t do things like consent to medical treatments without a parent or guardian’s consent or sign up for the military until they’re considered an adult in their state.
Not all states have the same age requirement for what constitutes an adult, but the age is at least 18 regardless of where you live. Some states require a person to be at least 19 years old before they can legally sign a contract or do anything that necessitates them being an adult. For insurance purposes, this means a 17-year-old cannot own their own car insurance policy without having an adult sign it with them.
In fact, if a teen wants to finance and buy a car, their parent or guardian must co-sign the loan. Even if they were to pay cash, their parent is still the legal owner. This is because a minor can’t own property. Only an adult can technically own real estate, a car, or anything else.
Can a Teen Own Their Own Car?
A teenager can’t own their own car because they’re considered a minor. However, because the laws of vehicle ownership vary by state, it’s worth looking into the age in which they can put a vehicle title in their own name. To learn about the laws in your state, you can contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles. This agency has all the information you need on titling, registering, and insuring a vehicle for a 17-year-old.
If you live in a state that does allow someone under 17 to be on the title of a car, check the details to make sure you’re following the necessary steps to make it legal. Most states make exceptions for teens who are emancipated. Emancipation is the process teens who have bad or dangerous relationships with their parents can use to take legal responsibility for themselves. AutoInsurance.org explains that those who are emancipated can own property and enter into legal agreements without their parent’s consent. A minor can become emancipated by:
- Getting married, which requires parental consent.
- Enlisting in the military, which also requires consent from a parent or guardian.
- Getting a court order from a judge, which doesn’t require consent.
For those who live in a state that allows a teenager to own a car in their own name, insurance can get tricky. Adding a teenager to a parent’s policy, while costly, is fairly straightforward. When a teen owns their own vehicle, adding them to an existing policy isn’t as easy. An insurance provider wants the person getting the insurance to have an interest in the item being insured. Therefore, a parent who doesn’t own a vehicle might have a hard time getting insurance for it.
Similarly, a teenager might have trouble acquiring their own insurance if they can’t enter into a legal contract. Make sure you know all the details of letting a teenager own a vehicle to make sure you don’t get stuck with a vehicle you can’t insure.
What Is the Average Cost of Insurance for a Teen?
It can be expensive to put a teen on a parent’s insurance policy. The following numbers from Value Penguin reflect the average costs for 17-year-olds to get an insurance policy:
- A 17-year-old female: $4137, when included on her parents’ policy.
- A 17-year-old male: $5851, when included on his parents’ policy.
- A 17-year-old female: $9852, when on her own policy.
- A 17-year-old male: $11,992, when on his own policy.
These are average yearly rates, and they vary by state and insurance provider. Overall, Value Penguin found that Progressive was the least expensive insurance provider for 17-year-olds, but not in every state. The percentage that most parents can expect to see their insurance go up after adding a teen to their policy is more than 100 percent. In Maine, for example, a parent’s policy could go from $884 to $1977, while in states such as Louisiana, a parent’s premium could go from $2228 all the way to $7007.
So, while your 17-year-old might be able to buy their own vehicle and insure it, make sure you know the true costs of doing so. Before you decide to get your teen his or her own insurance, talk to your insurance provider to ensure you’re making the right decision, both financially and legally.
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