Do learner’s permit drivers need car insurance?

Drivers with a learner's permit may not need car insurance as long as they're covered by an existing policy, but they may have to be added to an insurance agreement as a permitted driver.

Andrew Hurst

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Andrew Hurst

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

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.

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By

Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®

Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®

Certified Financial Planner

Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, he was a financial advisor at MetLife and MassMutual.

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Drivers who have a learner's permit must be insured, despite not being fully licensed. Since they’re usually teens, these drivers may already be covered by their parents’ car insurance policy, and may not need to get their own coverage.

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However, drivers with learner's permits may not automatically receive coverage under their parents’ policies. Parents of a newly permitted driver may have to specifically add their new driver to their policy in order for them to be covered.

Key takeaways

  • Drivers with a learner's permit have to be insured, but they may be covered by an existing car insurance policy.

  • Companies typically require any driver, including teens with learner's permits, to be added to a household's existing policy in order to receive coverage.

  • Adding learner's permitted drivers to a car insurance policy doesn't raise rates, but premiums will go up once they're fully licensed.

Do learner’s permit drivers need car insurance?

Like fully licensed drivers, drivers with a learner's permit — or a provisional driver's license —  have to be insured to drive. However, because these drivers may already be covered by their parents' or guardian's policy, they may not need to get their own car insurance.

Generally, insurance companies require any drivers who have a learner's permit to be listed on your insurance policy if they live in your household. Alternatively, if you want to make sure a driver isn't included on your car insurance policy, you will have to specifically exclude that young driver from coverage.

The good news for parents is that adding a driver with a learner's permit onto a policy won’t raise your car insurance rates. Instead, any rate increase for a new driver will come later, after they are fully licensed and once they’ll be driving your car on their own. 

→ Read more about our picks for the best insurance providers for young drivers

Can you get car insurance with a driver’s permit?

You can still get your own car insurance if you have a driver's permit, though you may not have to. You may have to purchase your own auto insurance as a permit driver if you no longer live with your parents or it's not possible for you to be added to their policy. However, you may also already be covered by another person's insurance.

If you're a young driver with a learner's permit who isn't covered by their parents' policy, you may be able to find auto insurance as a first-time driver, though it can be much more expensive than a standard policy. Additionally, since most minors can't sign their own contracts, drivers under the age of 18 usually have to get permission to buy their own insurance. 

If you’re an older driver with a permit who no longer lives with your parents, you may still be covered by a partner's policy as long as you're permitted to drive their vehicle. Similarly, if you share a household with your partner or spouse, their insurance company may already require that you be listed as a driver on their car insurance policy.

Even if you live alone and don't have a partner or spouse, you don’t necessarily need to get your own car insurance policy when you get your learner’s permit. If you borrow a vehicle to practice driving, you’ll be covered by their policy, provided a licensed driver is in the car with you. 

How to get insurance for drivers with a learner's permit

The steps a new driver has to take to get insured depend on whether they need their own policy. For example, a new driver may get insurance coverage by:

  • Becoming a named driver on an existing policy

  • Having a vehicle added onto another policy

  • Purchasing their own car insurance coverage

If your insurance company requires you to list new drivers with a learner's permit on your policy, it’s easy to add them to your coverage. 

When you contact your insurer, you'll be able to add a driver with a learner's permit or a newly licensed driver as long as you have their personal information and details about your own policy. Depending on your insurance company, you may even be able to add new drivers to your policy online or through a mobile app.

Similarly, if you want to add another vehicle to your policy, you'll simply contact your insurer with the car's make and model, vehicle identification number (VIN), and the name and age of the vehicle's main driver. This is usually only possible if the new vehicle's driver lives with you.

On the other hand, if you're a driver with a learner's permit who's planning to get car insurance for your own vehicle, you'll follow different steps to get coverage. First, you'll need information about your car, including its make, model, and its VIN. Then, you'll need to know how much coverage you want to buy. 

Finally, when you fill out an application, you'll have to list your parent or guardian on your policy since it's illegal for minors to agree to contacts, like insurance agreements. Only emancipated children may agree to their own car insurance without a parent needing to co-sign or being listed on the policy.

How do learner’s permit drivers affect insurance costs?

Fortunately, learner's permit drivers don't typically affect car insurance costs. If you're the main policyholder, most insurance companies won't raise your rates after you add a student driver to your policy until after they're fully licensed.

However, once they have a driver's license, young drivers are much more expensive to insure than more experienced drivers. In fact, Policygenius found that a 16-year-old driver pays 37% more for car insurance than an 18-year-old driver and more than three times as much per year on average than most people, aged 30 to 45.

The following table displays the average annual cost of car insurance for new 16-year-old drivers compared to the premiums paid by experienced drivers aged 18 and 30 to 45 years old:

Age

Average cost

Difference from 16-y/o

16-year-olds

$6,770

N/A

18-year-olds

$4,931

-27%

30 to 45-year-olds

$1,652

-76%

While the cost of coverage for a driver with a learner's permit will be high once they're licensed, it's still possible to find affordable auto insurance coverage. We recommend comparing quotes from more than one company to find the cheapest rates in your area. If you're not sure where to start, Policygenius can help you see quotes from top companies — for free.

Discounts for drivers with learner’s permits

Another way you can plan to lower the cost of insuring a driver who recently graduated from their learner's permit is by seeking out and comparing available discounts. While many of the discounts offered by insurance companies are similar, some insurers may offer a larger number of discounts or discounts that are easier to qualify for.

Depending on the age of the driver, the discounts available to them may vary. Young and inexperienced drivers may be able to lower the cost of car insurance by:

  • Being a good student: High school- and college-aged drivers may qualify for lower rates by getting good grades and earning a high grade point average.

  • Living away from your parents: Young, newly-licensed drivers could save money if they live at least 100 miles away from their parents' home and car.

  • Avoiding accidents, tickets, and claims: Many companies offer drivers lower rates if they avoid risky behaviors that result in incidents and claims for multiple years.

  • Completing an authorized driving course: With most companies, you may be able to lower your car insurance premiums by completing a defensive or safe driving course run by your state's Department of Motor Vehicles.

  • Allowing your insurer to monitor your driving habits: It's increasingly common for insurers to lower the cost of coverage in exchange for letting the company track your driving habits, including your speed, braking distance, and more, in order to more accurately set rates.

Even if you don't think you'll be able to find cheap car insurance coverage after you transition from a learner’s permit to a full license, your costs will still get more affordable over time. As drivers age and gain more experience, insurers steadily lower their rates — as long as the driver isn't involved in any accidents.

→ Read more about how students can save money on their car insurance

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need insurance to get a driver's license?

You do not need car insurance to get a driver's license. Many people live in areas where it's more convenient to take public transportation instead of driving their own vehicle and paying the extra insurance costs. You may also be able to get insurance without a driver's license, though it's much easier to get coverage if you're licensed.

Can you register a car with a learner's permit?

It's possible to register a car with a learner's permit, as long as you meet your state's age requirement for registration and are able to pay the registration fee. Your state's age requirements and fees may be different depending on where you live.

Are there limits to the insurance you can get if you have a permit?

If you have a learner's permit, you can still get as much car insurance as you want. However, as with other drivers, you can't get less insurance than the amount that's legally required in your state.

Methodology

Policygenius has analyzed car insurance rates provided by Quadrant Information Services for every ZIP code in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. For full coverage policies, the following coverage limits were used:

  • Bodily injury liability: 50/100

  • Property damage liability: $50,000

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist: 50/100

  • Comprehensive: $500 deductible

  • Collision: $500 deductible

In some cases, additional coverages were added where required by state or insurer. Rates for the top companies were determined using averages for single drivers ages 30, 35, and 45. Our sample vehicle was a 2017 Toyota Camry LE driven 10,000 miles/year.

Some carriers may be represented by affiliates or subsidiaries. Rates provided are a sample of costs. Your actual quotes may differ.

Author

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

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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

Certified Financial Planner

Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®

Certified Financial Planner

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Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, he was a financial advisor at MetLife and MassMutual.

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