Adding your child to your car insurance

You typically have to add your child to your car insurance policy as soon as they’re licensed. Adding a child is easy, but it may come with a big rate increase.

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Andrew HurstAndrew HurstSenior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance ExpertAndrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.
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Maria FilindrasMaria FilindrasFinancial AdvisorMaria Filindras is a financial advisor, a licensed Life & Health insurance agent in California, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

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Adding a child to your car insurance makes your insurance more expensive, but it’s usually something your provider requires. Typically, all licensed drivers living in your house, including your children, must be listed on your car insurance policy (or be specifically excluded from coverage).

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The good news is that you usually don’t have to add your child to your car insurance until they’re fully licensed. Teens who have their learner’s permits are often automatically covered under their family’s policy while they’re learning to drive, so even if you add them to your policy then, you typically won’t pay more until they actually have their license.

Key takeaways

  • You have to add your child to your auto insurance when they’re licensed, otherwise they won’t be covered when they’re driving your car.

  • Keep your college-age children on your car insurance if they use your vehicle regularly and don’t have their own permanent address.

  • Your car insurance company may not require you to add your child to your policy while they have their learner’s permit, but you should double check.

  • Adding your child to your car insurance will raise your rates, but there are some things you can do to keep your car insurance affordable even with a teen driver.

Is my child covered under my car insurance?

If your child has their driver's license and lives in your household, they won’t be covered under your car insurance until they’re added to your policy. Insurance companies usually require you to add every licensed driver in your house to your auto insurance, otherwise they won’t be covered while they’re driving your car.

After your child moves out for good and you remove them from your insurance, your policy will still cover them while they borrow your car occasionally — but coverage may be limited for drivers who aren’t technically on policy.

Do I have to add my child to my car insurance?

Yes, you typically have to add your child to your car insurance once they’re licensed. It might be tempting to avoid higher rates by not adding a child to your car insurance, but leaving your child off of your insurance policy means that they wouldn’t be covered if they were involved in an accident while driving your car.

You usually don’t have to add your child to your car insurance if they only have a learner’s permit. As a student driver, your child will be covered as long as you’re in the car with them. 

Still, it’s best to let your insurance company know when your child gets their learner’s permit — sometimes insurance companies require that you add your child to your policy once they have their permit, but won’t raise your rates until they’re licensed.

When your child moves out and gets their own vehicle, they’re responsible for getting their own insurance coverage. So if they didn’t get their driver’s license until after they moved out of your home, you don’t have to worry about adding your child to your insurance.

Can you exclude your child from your car insurance?

One alternative to adding your child to your car insurance is listing them as an excluded driver. An excluded driver is someone who is prevented in writing from receiving any insurance benefits under your policy — it means they won’t affect your rates, but it also means they can never drive your car.

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When should you add your child to car insurance?

You should add your child to your car insurance once they’re licensed (or sometimes before, if your insurance company requires you to list student drivers). 

In fact, when your child is close to getting licensed, you should consider letting your car insurance company know that you might soon update your policy. That way, you can ensure there’s no hold up that would keep them from driving.

If your college-age child is on your car insurance and you’ve been getting a discounted rate while they were at school, you should make sure you let your insurance company know if they move back after graduation.

How to add someone to your car insurance policy

Adding a child to your car insurance policy is usually easy and straightforward. Whether you add your child to an existing policy or include them as a driver when you’re signing up for new coverage, the process is similar.

Most insurance companies will let you add someone new to a policy either online, over the phone, or via the company’s mobile app. When you’re adding your driving-age child to a policy, you’ll probably have to provide the following information about them:

  • Their full name and date of birth

  • Their Social Security and driver’s license number

  • Their primary vehicle (if it’s different from one that’s already insured)

You can also adjust your coverage if it isn’t right for your newly licensed driver. For example, if you’re adding your newly licensed teen to your policy along with a hand-me-down car they’ll be driving, you may want to drop comprehensive and collision coverage for their car but not yours.

Benefits of adding your child to your car insurance

Beyond the fact that it’s usually required by insurance, there are a few benefits that come with adding your child to an existing car insurance policy.

  1. It’s cheaper than a standalone policy: It costs less to add a child to an existing policy than it would if they decided to get their own insurance. Since it’s harder for young drivers to get cheaper insurance, this is one way to ensure your child can get covered.

  2. It’s also more convenient for you: Since your insurance company requires you to include any licensed driver living in your house on your policy, you will have to go through the trouble of excluding them from coverage if you don’t want to add them, and getting a standalone insurance policy for a driver who’s under 18 is a hassle. 

  3. You can save money with special discounts: Most companies offer car insurance discounts for young drivers that can help you save money when you add them to your policy. They may be able to qualify for a good student discount for maintaining above a certain GPA, or for completing a special teen driver’s ed program. You can also earn a discount if your child is away at school without a car.

How much will my car insurance increase after adding a child to my policy?

On average, we found that it costs $132 more per month (or $1,588 per year) to add your child to your car insurance policy. It’s even more expensive to add a brand new driver to a policy. It costs $204 more per month ($2,453 per year) to add a 16-year-old driver.

It’s expensive to add a child to an existing car insurance policy, but it’s even more expensive if your child gets a separate policy. It costs $308 more per month (or $3,698 per year) than average for most people for your child to get their own car insurance.

Scenario

Average monthly cost

Average annual cost

Adding a driver

$270

$3,240

Getting a separate policy

$446

$5,350

Costs of full-coverage car insurance

It’s cheaper to add a child who’s out of their teens to your auto insurance. Rates go down as drivers age out of their teen years and become less likely to get into a serious accident — research shows that teenage drivers are involved in crashes at a rate that’s four times higher than drivers over 20.

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How to get cheaper car insurance after adding a driver

Comparing rates before getting your teen or young adult covered is the best way to find cheaper car insurance when you’re adding a driver. Another company may be able to offer you a better rate, which could save you a lot of money over the long run.

There are other ways to get cheaper insurance after adding a child to your car insurance, like:

  • Dropping full-coverage on your child’s car: If your child’s car isn’t worth much, don’t pay for full-coverage. Instead, drop full-coverage (while keeping their liability insurance high), and lower your rates significantly.

  • Enroll them in a driving class for young people: Some companies offer driving classes that teach basic skills to new drivers. These are usually only for teenage drivers, but your child can get cheaper insurance by completing a course.

  • Signing up for per-mile insurance: Insurance that’s based on the number of miles you drive might be a cheaper option, especially if you and your driving-age child don’t have long commutes.

  • Re-shopping your policy if your rates are too high: You should make sure to compare car insurance rates every year when it’s time to renew your policy. Knowing when it’s time to switch to a lower rate can help you avoid year-over-year price hikes.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

If you don’t add your child to your auto insurance and they use your car anyway, any accident they get into while driving might not be covered. If they were in a wreck, your child (or you) would be responsible for paying for the cost of the injuries and property damage they caused. They may also face legal punishments and lose their license.

Can someone not on your insurance drive your car?

Yes, drivers who occasionally borrow your car are covered by your insurance as long as they have your permission to drive. This includes any child of yours who has moved out of your house but visits you and uses your car.

Will your insurance go up after adding a named driver?

Yes, your rates will usually go up after you add a named driver — even if the new driver isn’t your child. Despite the rate increase, you likely won’t have a choice in whether you add a named driver or not. If your child lives with you, they must be included as a named driver on your policy (or specifically excluded).

Why is it so expensive to add a child to car insurance?

It costs a lot to add a child to your car insurance because of their inexperience. Young drivers are more likely to get into crashes that cause injuries and property damage — and expensive claims. As your child ages and proves they’re a safe driver, it will become cheaper to insure them.

Author

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

Expert reviewer

Maria Filindras is a financial advisor, a licensed Life & Health insurance agent in California, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

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