Your teen driver’s car insurance after divorce

Divorced couples with a teen driver have many questions about their insurance coverages. Generally, auto insurance companies recommend auto insurance policies based on the parent’s custody status.

From Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner to Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon, celebrity divorces have always been a topic of hot gossip. You see it on magazine racks, hear it on the radio, and scroll through it on your mobile phone. While you can lose yourself in the fantastic speculation of who will get the beach house or the fleet of foreign cars, in reality the average divorced American deals with the same concerns about assets — just at a smaller scale. From dividing things like bank accounts and furniture between you and your ex-spouse, have you ever thought about how to allocate accountability and payments of your teen’s car insurance premium once they start driving?

Should my teen driver be on mine or my ex-spouse’s policy?

Unfortunately, divorced couples need to have their own individual auto insurance policy, so deciding which one to add your child to in order to ensure they’re able to drive anytime, anywhere can be complicated. Overall, it’s best to discuss this issue with your insurance agent because each provider will have a different protocol for such a situation. Don’t assume what works for your child on your auto insurance policy will also work for them on your ex’s policy. Generally, auto insurance companies recommend solutions based on your custody status:

  1. Primary custody: If your child spends the majority of their time at your house and uses a vehicle registered under your name they should be on your policy. Just be sure to double check that their insurance will carry over if they happen to be driving your ex’s car.
  2. Joint custody: If your child spends an equal amount of time using your and your ex’s vehicle, they should really be on both policies.
  3. Your ex has primary custody: Your child should be on your ex’s policy in this case. Ask your provider if they should also be added to yours if they happen to drive your car frequently.

While no one likes to spend their time on the phone with their provider, the time you spend researching which policy to place your teen driver on will save you money in the long run. Don’t assume it will be easier to put your teen on their own policy. Even if your teen has their own vehicle, it’s still cheaper to bundle them under your or your ex’s policy–$3,053/year cheaper says a study by NerdWallet. On the other hand, not providing car insurance for your teen and having them drive without insurance is illegal in all 50 states. Therefore if your child is given a ticket or in an accident without insurance you and your family will most likely be paying fines and bills for years to come. Insurer’s high premiums for young drivers are there to protect you, your child, and others on the road from lawsuits, medical bills, and damage expenses.

So yes, teen drivers have some of the highest premiums of drivers on the road. Their lack of experience and likelihood of exhibiting risky behavior while driving, such as operating under the influence, texting, or not using seatbelts, forces providers to set higher premiums because they consider themselves to be taking a large risk by insuring and possibly paying for your teen’s damages. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute, drivers age 16 to 19 are three times more likely to be in a fatal car accident than those over 20 years old. Consequently, an analysis found that adding a teen driver to a current two-car policy increases the rates by almost 79%, or on average $1,570/year. Now that your income has virtually been cut in half and child support doesn’t usually cover car insurance, how can you save money on this newly added expense? Many providers offer discounts specific to teen drivers that will not only curb the cost, but also your anxiety about them being on the road.

Discounts for Teen Drivers:

  1. Complete a driver’s education course
  2. Maintain a minimum B average in high school or college
  3. Attend a college at least 100 miles away and leave the car at home
  4. Your teen’s car receives a “good” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which means the car has specific safety control features like curtain airbags. Most newer model cars meet these standards
  5. Add your child to your policy to qualify for a multi-car discount with your provider

Car Insurance Providers That Offer Teen Driver Discounts:

  1. AARP/The Hartford
  2. Allstate
  3. Esurance
  4. Geico
  5. Liberty Mutual
  6. Nationwide
  7. Progressive
  8. State Farm

While divorce is a stressful process, securing your child’s protection on the road shouldn’t be. And while we all don’t have as much money as that particular celebrity couple, that doesn’t mean we can’t be rich in our discount savings. With the right amount of research of your provider on Insurify and a conversation about safe driving with your teen, you can get them on the road and your mind back to other matters.

Updated August 23, 2018

Micaela Allen is a Boston-based writer and editor. Over the years, she has written over 100 original pieces for Insurify, focusing on trends in the insurance industry and financial advice for young and uninsured drivers. Micaela is an alumna of Northeastern University, where she majored in English.