Q

Is my child covered under my car insurance?

A

If your child isn’t yet licensed, then they are usually automatically covered under your car insurance policy, depending on your insurance company. Once your child is a licensed driver, you should add them as a named insured on your car insurance policy.

Kara McGinleyStephanie Nieves author photo

By

Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an insurance editor at Policygenius, specializing in home, auto, and renters insurance. She's been writing about insurance since 2019, and her work and insights have been referenced in Kiplinger and WRAL.com.

&

Stephanie Nieves

Stephanie Nieves

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City, specializing in home and auto insurance. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.

Updated November 1, 2021|5 min read

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our

editorial standards

and

how we make money.

When you buy a car insurance policy, you’re financially protected in the event of an accident. Your policy also covers anyone else listed as a named insured. This should include anyone in your household who will be regularly driving any vehicles, as well as your children if they’re over the age of 16 and have their license. But what if your child is still learning how to drive — would they be covered?

The answer is, it depends. Some insurers will extend coverage to certain unlisted drivers, including children who are still learning how to drive. But if a licensed member of your household is not named on your policy, they might not be covered at all, depending on your insurance company.

Ready to shop car insurance?

Start calculator

Your car insurance company will likely charge you higher rates if your child is a teen driver because teen drivers are riskier to insure than experienced drivers. But there are ways you can save on your car insurance premiums, like applying for discounts or comparing quotes from other companies to see if you can be paying less elsewhere. 

Key Takeaways

  • Student drivers are usually covered under your car insurance policy, but once your child gets their license you will need to add them as a named insured on your auto policy

  • If your child is away at college without a car, you might qualify for an auto insurance discount

  • If your child owns their own car, you should still consider keeping them on your auto policy. Auto insurance is generally more expensive for young and new drivers, so adding them to your policy will be the cheaper option

  • Most car insurance companies allow you to add new drivers to your current policy either over the phone or through their website

When is my child covered by my car insurance?

Different car insurance companies have different guidelines when it comes to coverage for family members living in your household, as well as unlisted drivers.

Typically, if you lend your car to any licensed driver, they will be covered under your policy through what’s called permissive use. Permissive use is when you allow someone not on your policy, like a friend, to drive your vehicle from time to time. 

Under permissive use at least some of your coverage will be extended to other drivers if they get in an accident while borrowing your car — so if your adult child doesn’t live with you but occasionally borrows your car, they’ll likely be covered by your policy while they’re driving it (although the coverage may be more limited than if they were named on your policy).

However, if a family member who lives in your household, like your teenage child, will be driving your car, you should officially add them to your policy to make sure they’re covered by your insurance. Some insurance companies explicitly require every licensed driver in the household to be listed on a policy.

Should I add my child to car insurance when they get their learner’s permit?

When your teenager gets their learner’s permit, you should contact your insurance company. Some insurance companies will cover your student driver even if they aren’t listed on your auto policy, as long as they are driving your car with you. 

However, depending on your insurance company and the state you live in, you might be required to list your student driver on your policy. And when they get their driver’s license, you will definitely need to contact your insurance company to get your child listed on your auto policy.

Below are the main parties you should list on your auto policy:

  • Licensed family members living in your household

  • Drivers who will be frequently driving your vehicle

  • Unrelated drivers living in your household

When it comes to car insurance, it’s better to be safe than sorry. You should contact your insurance company to get all licensed members of your household insured under your auto policy if they are going to be driving your car, or you risk having to pay out of pocket if they get into an accident.

Your car insurance rates will likely go up when you add your child to your auto policy. Young and inexperienced drivers are more likely to get into car accidents, so insurers are taking on more risk by insuring them. However the cost of insuring a young driver drops each year as they get closer to 25, assuming they maintain a clean driving record.

Car insurance for college students

If your child is in college and living away from home, they can still stay on your auto insurance policy as long as your home is their primary residence. That said, you should talk to your insurance company if your child is taking a car with them to school, especially if they are going out-of-state. You might need to adjust your coverage according to that state’s regulations, and your premiums may change if one of your vehicles.

If your child does not bring a car with them to college, you might be eligible for a discount, depending on your insurance company. Even if they aren’t driving regularly, you should still keep them as a named insured on your policy, especially if they plan on driving your vehicles when they’re home from school.

➞ Learn more about car insurance for college students

Should I keep my child on my car insurance if they own their own car?

If your child owns their own car, you should still consider adding them and their vehicle to your policy. If your child is under 25 and wants to get their own car insurance, it will be much more expensive for them to have a separate policy than it would be to add them and their car to your policy.

Even though adding a teenage driver will raise your premiums, your child can also get you discounts on your policy once you’ve added them. For example, most insurance companies will offer good student discounts or driver’s education discounts.

How much is car insurance for a teen driver?

One of the reasons that it makes more sense to add a teen driver to your policy rather than have them get their own standalone insurance is the high cost of car insurance for teens. Our analysis found that 17-year-old male drivers paid the highest average rates, at $7,207 per year. 

But, assuming your child is a safe driver and maintains a clean record, their rates will drop every year until they turn 25, at which point it may be much more affordable for them to have their own car insurance policy. 

Car insurance rates for teens

AgeGenderAverage annual cost
16Female$6,351
Male$7,207
18Female$4,594
Male$5,268
21Female$2,548
Male$2,867
25Female$1,875
Male$1,983

How to add someone to your car insurance policy

Adding someone to your car insurance policy is a relatively easy process. Generally speaking, you should add all licensed family members in your household to your insurance policy. Most car insurance companies will allow you to add a new person to your policy either online or over the phone.

Before calling your insurance company, you should have some basic information on hand, like the new driver’s full name, date of birth, Social Security Number and license number. Typically, adding a new driver to your policy is a simple process with just a few steps:

How to add someone to your car insurance policy

  1. Contact your insurer (by phone or online) and tell them you’d like to add a driver to your policy

  2. Provide any necessary information about the driver 

  3. Adjust your coverage if needed

  4. Discuss your updated rates with a representative, so you’re clear about what changes have been made and why

  5. If your premium goes up significantly, ask about opportunities for savings or take some time to shop around and compare quotes with other companies

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I don't add my child to my auto insurance?

Once your child has their license, if they live with you and will be driving your car, they need to be added to your policy. If they're not and they're in an accident in your vehicle, it might not be covered. That means they — and you — could be on the hook for thousands of dollars after an accident.

Can someone not on your insurance drive your car?

Drivers who borrow your car are typically covered by your insurance in the event of an accident, even if they’re not officially listed on your policy. This extended coverage is referred to as permissive use, meaning you gave the driver permission to drive. However coverage for drivers who aren’t on your policy may be more limited than coverage for drivers who are listed on your insurance.

Can I drive someone else's car without my own insurance?

You can operate someone else’s vehicle without your own insurance as long as you were given permission to drive their car. In general, if you borrow someone else’s car occasionally, you do not need to be added to their policy. But if you plan to drive their car frequently you might want to look into a non-owner policy, and if you live with them, you should be listed under their policy to make sure you’re covered.

More about

Auto Insurance

Does car insurance follow the car or the driver?

Generally, car insurance follows the car. That means if someone borrows your car and is at fault for an accident, your policy’s liability coverage will cover them. There are instances when car insurance follows the driver, like when you rent a car.

Read more

What to do after a car accident

A step-by-step guide to reporting an accident and filing a claim.

Read more

Does car insurance cover oil changes?

No, changing your oil is considered part of routine maintenance, which is not covered under your car insurance.

Read more