Do I Need Car Insurance With a Learner's Permit in California?

How do insurers handle car insurance for learner’s permit drivers?

Even with fewer driving privileges, learner’s permit drivers must be insured. They’re just as vulnerable to accidents and need the financial security insurance provides.

In most cases, learner’s permit drivers are teens living with their parents. These young drivers are generally covered by their parents’ policy when they receive their learner’s permit and don’t need to buy their own policy.

However, insurers take different approaches to young permit drivers. Policyholders may have to list every member of a household who has reached driving age on the policy. With other insurers, you won’t need to do this until your young driver has a license.

For example, if a young driver in your household has a learner’s permit, Geico requires you to list the driver on your policy. As long as the young driver only has a permit, your policy premium will not increase. Once the young driver obtains a license, Geico will factor them into your policy rate.

Reach out to your insurer and see how they handle car insurance for permit drivers. Don’t skip this step. If you don’t properly list drivers as your insurer requires, then you may have to pay out of pocket for damage after a car accident.

The good news? Insurance companies usually don’t increase rates until after a student driver receives their license. At that point, rates tend to significantly increase. But there are still ways to get cheap car insurance for teens.

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Specifics Vary by Insurance Carrier

Most insurance carriers want you to have the permit driver listed on the car insurance policy as a permitted driver. Often a driver with a permit will have a cheaper rate than a newly licensed driver. A permitted driver may not cost you as much as you might think.

Some insurance carriers do not even have the ability to list a permit driver as a driver. A valid driver's license may be required. The permitted driver will be automatically covered under the policy of their parent.

How Do I Insure a Driver with a Learner’s Permit on My Car?

When your teen driver needs learner’s permit insurance, adding them to your policy is extremely easy. All you need to do is contact your insurance company and provide them with relevant information about the driver. 

Make sure to ask the company agent how it will impact your insurance rates. Also, be clear about the timing in which you need the coverage to go into effect.

When you’re adding a new driver to your policy, it is a great time to shop around. Find out how much your new coverage will be with your existing provider, but obtain quotes from several other companies too. Doing so can save you hundreds of dollars, while also ensuring that your teen driver is protected.

Our Recommendations for Auto Insurance

Fortunately, getting learner’s permit insurance is a fairly simple process. Now that you know how to get coverage, it is time to get connected with some great insurance providers. Whether you need full coverage, basic liability insurance, or another kind of policy, we can help you find the perfect fit.

Try our no obligation rate comparison tool below. Within minutes, you will receive quotes from top companies like Progressive, State Farm, and GEICO. 

Below, our experts give you their take on a few of these great companies. If you find a policy that you like, we can even show you how to buy coverage in 6 easy steps.

FIND OUT HOW MUCH YOU CAN SAVE ON YOUR CAR INSURANCE SAVE ON YOUR CAR INSURANCE

State Farm: Best Student Discounts

If you need to insure a student driver, State Farm is one of the best options available. While it did not earn our top spot, our experts did rate the company extremely well. State Farm earned a cumulative score of 8.5 out of 10 in our review.

State Farm offers several student discounts. For example, it offers a good student discount if your teen driver maintains good grades (3.0 GPA or higher). 

State Farm may also provide discounts if your teen completes a driver’s education course, but it is best to check the specific offerings available in your state.

GEICO: Best Overall

GEICO earned a cumulative score of 9.1 out of 10 in our review. The insurance company is known for flexible coverage options, great rates, and exceptional customer service. Our experts also like that GEICO offers rideshare and mechanical breakdown coverage, as not all insurers do.

Discounts for Drivers with Learner’s Permits

Fortunately, many car insurance providers offer discounts to help make policies more affordable for all types of drivers, including those who are young and inexperienced. Larger companies, like GEICO, State Farm, and Allstate, have more discounts than smaller insurance providers.

If you have a learner’s permit, there are some common discounts you should keep on your radar, regardless of whether you decide to purchase your own policy or get added to a parent’s or guardian’s.

The good student discount might apply to you if you’re in high school or college full-time or part-time and earn good grades or have a high GPA. Also, if you live at least 100 miles away from your parents’ home because you’re a college student or in boarding school, for example, you may score a discount.

In addition, if you take an authorized driving course or allow your insurance company to monitor your driving habits through a tracking device and engage in safe driving habits, you can potentially save money on your car insurance.

Can you get insurance on a car with a permit?

If you’ve only just earned your learner’s permit but have already purchased a vehicle of your own, you’ll be eligible to purchase your own insurance policy just like any licensed driver.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • The good news is learner’s permits don’t usually affect car insurance rates. If you have a car insurance policy and decide to add a driver with a learner’s permit to it, most car insurance companies won’t increase your premiums.

    However, once they earn an official driver’s license, your car insurance costs will go up. This is because younger drivers are more prone to traffic violations than older drivers with more experience.

  • If you have a learner’s permit, you’re free to purchase as much car insurance as you’d like. You can opt for the minimum that’s legally required in your state or add on extra insurance coverage. It’s up to you and what you prefer.

  • If you become involved in an accident while driving with a learner’s permit and don’t have car insurance, you may be up a creek. You’ll have to pay out-of-pocket expenses and get your permit suspended. In the event you’re on your parent’s plan, your damages will be covered. The downside, however, is that your parents will face higher rates.

  • When you purchase car insurance as a student driver, your premium will depend on a few different factors. These include who you live with, whether you live alone, your age, and your location. You can expect to pay higher rates as a young driver than an older, more experienced driver with a positive driving history. Fortunately, once you earn your official driver’s license and gain some experience, your car insurance costs may eventually go down.

How does a new driver affect your car insurance?

The fact is, when your teen becomes a licensed driver and is added to your policy, your rates could increase significantly. According to the Insurance Information Institute, adding a teen boy to an insurance policy could send your rates up as much as 100%, while adding a teen girl could mean a 50% increase. The size of the increase may vary by state.

Families can reduce or prevent extra costs in some cases. For example, Nationwide offers a good student discount for drivers age 16-24 who maintain a B average, and its accident forgiveness program ensures that rates won’t rise following the first at-fault accident on your policy.

So, when your teen comes to you with learner’s permit in hand, embrace the rite of passage knowing that you have already looked down the road ahead.

Driving on the open road is no doubt a new and exciting experience for your teen. A family driving contract may be able to help you set expectations and goals for the new driver in the family.

How To Save Money With Young Drivers

Adding a teen to a new policy often increases premiums a significant amount. The New York Times reported that rates increase an average of 78 percent. But don’t fret: Your car insurance rates will drop as your teen gets older and demonstrates safe driving. For this reason, it’s particularly important to pay attention to how your rates change when you renew your six-month or annual contract.

There are plenty of ways to temper the costly factors that determine teen car insurance rates. You may spot a range of discounts with the same or similar titles:

  • Teen drivers
  • Good student drivers
  • Defensive drivers
  • Seat belt use
  • Driver’s ed course

Safe Driving Trackers

Some car insurance companies are catching up with the times by offering driver tracking apps to register good driving habits that trigger lower rates for the future.

For example, State Farm’s Drive Safe & Save™ app allows drivers to unlock up to 30 percent off their rates after tracking driving habits. By connecting with your phone’s Bluetooth, the app detects acceleration, quick braking, and distracted driving habits. State Farm’s Steer Clear® app is specifically for young drivers, which we’ll explain more below.

Usage-Based Car Insurance

If your teen has a car of their own that will not see a lot of driving in the first few years, you can also consider usage-based car insurance plans. These plans often use a device or another check-in system to detect how much a car has been driven over a set period of time. Premiums are then adjusted accordingly.

Pair With Other Discounts

If you’re a parent adding a teen to your plan, you can save money through your own discount qualifications. Shop around for companies that reward adult drivers for certain things. These may include membership in an organization or federal agency such as the military. You can also add common discounts that reward vehicle safety features, customer loyalty, payment options, or your age.

How do you compare rates on car insurance for new drivers?

Whether a family is adding a new driver to an existing policy or a new driver is buying their own policy, completing a careful insurance comparison is a must. Experts advise shopping around for new insurance rates every six months.

Few situations impact the bottom line as much as adding a new driver to the policy, so there is no time like the present to find the best rate for this new circumstance.

By evaluating several different insurance companies in an organized manner, smart drivers will be able to find the car insurance policy that gives them the most personalized protection for the least amount of money.

And, by the way, if you are wondering, “Can you get car insurance without a license in PA or any other state?” the answer is that it’s possible, but not always easy or recommended.

To find affordable car insurance rates with a learner’s permit, enter your ZIP code in our free tool below to compare new driver car insurance quotes and get cheap learner’s permit car insurance rates now.

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How much car insurance does a permit driver need?

Every state sets its own minimum insurance requirements, but the right amount of auto insurance for your permit driver depends on your vehicle and situation. Your liability coverage should be set at limits that can cover your assets if your permit driver is responsible for another driver’s injuries or property damage. Also, since new drivers are typically more prone to mishaps than experienced drivers, you may want to add comprehensive and collision coverage to the vehicle being used by your permit driver.

How do graduated licensing laws and drivers safety go together?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that, in most states, there is a graduated licensing process put in place. Getting a learner’s permit is just the first step to getting a full license.

Generally, teen drivers need to take a driver’s education course as part of their licensing process. According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration, these courses teach students the rules of the road and teen driver safety.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the teen driver would not necessarily need to be added to their guardians’ car insurance policy until they get a full license.

If you are one of those rare individuals who need car insurance even though you only have a learner’s permit, keep in mind that having insurance does not give you the freedom to drive your vehicle outside of the terms of your learner’s permit.

Using the state of Vermont as an example, its Department of Motor Vehicles states that new drivers are required to have a licensed guardian, driving instructor, or other unimpaired individuals over the age of 25 in the passenger seat when driving with a learner’s permit.

Each state is responsible for determining the type of insurance coverage required and how much each driver needs to have. To find out the regulations for your state, you should visit the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ website.

Although car insurance for those with learner’s permits may not be required in your state, you still will need to make sure that the driver you are learning from has insurance on the car you will be practicing in.

What are the restrictions on drivers with a learner’s permit?

State laws dictate what learner’s permit holders can and cannot do. It’s important to know what the restrictions are in your state so that the actions of learner’s permit drivers do not have an adverse effect on your insurance rates.

For example, in the state of Georgia, a student may not retain their learner’s permit under the age of 18 if they do not remain in school. Therefore, a 17-year-old high school dropout could no longer possess a learner’s permit and would not be covered by insurance should they drive anyway.

Using the above example, if that 17-year-old high school dropout was pulled over, both they and their licensed passenger would be held accountable. If they were using their guardian’s vehicle, it would reflect negatively on them, and their insurance rates would most likely go up.

As long as student drivers are obeying the law, insurance rates will remain unaffected.

Drivers with learner’s permits can rest assured they don’t need to spend the money on their own insurance policies, but they do need to be careful to follow the rules that come with having a learner’s permit so as not to jeopardize passengers.

If you’re a guardian with a teen who possesses a learner’s permit, you may legally not need to inform your insurance company, but it would be wise to do so anyway.

As soon as they earn their regular license, you will have to inform the insurance company; otherwise, your child may not be covered in the event of an accident.

How do permitted drivers drive safely and responsibly?

The most important thing a new driver can do to stay safe and pay less is to drive responsibly. A clean driving record will save a lot of money in insurance rates in the long run.

Driving safely means respecting all the rules that were just learned in driver’s education class, such as:

  • Keeping to the speed limit
  • Maintaining a proper distance between cars
  • Paying close attention to all traffic lights and signs

Not only will these habits keep you safe, but they will also help you keep your car insurance rates low.

How do you choose the right car for your teenager?

The car that a new driver operates also has a profound effect on the price they pay for insurance. The make and model of an automobile are two factors that insurers consider when computing the cost of a policy.

The only factors that are as significant, besides the good driving record mentioned above, are the demographic and location of the new driver.

A new driver has the opportunity to change the price of their policy by buying a car that will save them the most money on insurance.

A flashy sports car will cost more to insure than a reliable sedan. Since sports cars go faster, there is more risk associated with driving them. By choosing a less risky vehicle, a new driver will be able to ease into their new driving lifestyle in a safer way.

Why should you never drive under the influence?

Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This advice applies to everybody, not just new drivers. It is an important message to reinforce whenever possible.

An accident caused by driving under the influence can have a catastrophic effect on the life of a driver.

A ticket for driving while intoxicated can destroy one’s driving record.

One of the key things any driver can do to protect their life and their driving record is to drive soberly.

Another facet of smart driving comes in the form of a high school report card or college transcript. Good grades can reap savings of more than 10 percent on the yearly rate.

When a new driver shows responsibility at school, it indicates to insurance companies that they are more likely to show responsibility while driving.

How Can I Lower My Insurance Rate?

If your parents add your car to their insurance policy, they may qualify for a multi-vehicle discount. If you have your own insurance, take a California driver’s ed course with a reputable California driving school. Young drivers pay higher insurance rates due to their lack of experience. However, most insurance companies will lower your rate if you take a Traffic School course from a California driving school. 

Learning to drive is exciting but can be daunting. DriversEd.com makes it easy to get your California learner’s permit, and our easy-to-follow driver’s ed course prepares teens for the California driving test. 

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