Can You Get Insurance with a Learner’s Permit?

It’s possible to get a separate car insurance policy with a learner’s permit, but for most new drivers, it’s cheaper and easier to join their parents’ policies.

Emily Guy Birken
Emily Guy Birken
  • Plutus Award winner

  • 12+ years writing about insurance and personal finance

Emily is a widely recognized expert on personal finance and has authored several personal finance books. She’s a frequent guest on national and regional media.

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Katie Powers
Edited byKatie Powers
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Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

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Updated April 1, 2024

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For teen drivers, a learner’s permit provides a framework for practicing their driving skills. But how do new drivers afford auto insurance while they’re still on a learner’s permit?

It’s possible for an unlicensed driver to purchase an auto insurance policy while carrying a learner’s permit, but such an insurance policy can be very costly. Instead, most families prefer to get coverage for an unlicensed teen driver through a parent’s policy.

Whatever path you pursue, here’s what you need to know about getting car insurance with a learner’s permit.

Quick Facts
  • Many insurers don’t charge additional fees for adding a learner’s permit driver to an existing auto policy.

  • Parents can expect their insurance premiums to increase after their teen driver becomes fully licensed.

  • Young drivers may be able to reduce their insurance costs by taking a driver’s education course and maintaining good grades.

Do you need insurance with a learner’s permit?

Whether you have a full driver’s license or a learner’s permit, you must have auto insurance to drive. You must carry a learner’s permit for anywhere from six to 12 months before graduating to a full license, depending on where you live. This means you’ll need six to 12 months of insurance coverage while learning the rules of the road under a learner’s permit.

In most cases, a teen driver on a learner’s permit will already have coverage through their parents’ or guardians’ auto insurance policy. Fortunately, adding a teenager with a learner’s permit won’t increase your insurance rates in most states.[1] Most states don’t allow insurers to raise parents’ insurance premiums until the new driver has a full license. However, this is legal in Illinois, Indiana, and Maryland.

LIVE IN ILLINOIS, INDIANA, OR MARYLAND?

Your insurance premiums won’t necessarily go up after adding a teen driver with a learner’s permit to your insurance.

Heather Zoller, owner of American Heritage Insurance, based out of Eldersburg, Maryland, explains that even if the state allows insurers to increase insurance rates, “95% of companies don’t charge you more with a learner’s permit driver on your policy.”

Of the small percentage of insurers that do raise rates, Zoller says it’s still usually less than the cost of adding a fully licensed driver.

If parents choose to specifically exclude a young driver from their policy, they may need to purchase separate insurance coverage for the new driver. But this will generally be costlier than simply adding their teen to their policy.

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How to get car insurance with a learner’s permit

Drivers with a learner’s permit can either get their own insurance policy or join their parents’ insurance policy. Here’s how each of these options works.

Add permit driver to a parent’s insurance policy

Adding a new driver to a parent’s or guardian’s insurance policy is the more common method of getting insurance coverage for drivers with a learner’s permit. Even first-time adult drivers are more likely to join a spouse’s or housemate’s insurance while learning with that person’s car, instead of getting their own learner’s permit insurance.

Simply adding a new driver to an existing policy usually doesn’t increase rates, which means this is a much cheaper option than purchasing a separate policy for a new driver. Additionally, many insurers offer a number of discounts that can help reduce insurance costs when you add a new driver.

Pros
  • Usually doesn’t increase rates for the already existing policy

  • Well-established processes for adding a newly permitted driver

Cons
  • Not available for emancipated teen drivers

  • Once the new driver becomes fully licensed, rates for the existing policy will increase

In general, adding a driver with a learner’s permit to an existing policy will also be simpler logistically because most insurers have processes and procedures in place for adding a newly permitted driver to an existing policy. These insurers may not have policies in place for purchasing a new policy for such a driver.

Get your own policy

It’s relatively rare to get your own car insurance with a learner’s permit. Generally, only teens living independently from their parents or adults and learning to drive for the first time may need this type of insurance. But if your parents can’t add you to their policy for any reason, you’re responsible for getting appropriate car insurance coverage.

But rates for learner’s permit drivers are likely to be quite expensive, since inexperienced drivers are more likely to get into accidents. In addition, teens younger than 18 can’t enter into a legal insurance contract on their own and will need parental permission to purchase insurance.

If you’re either an adult or a teen driver and live alone, you might not need a separate policy while driving on a learner’s permit. If you borrow a licensed driver’s vehicle to practice driving, their policy will cover you, as long as they’re in the car with you.

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of getting your own policy.

Pros
  • Allows independent or emancipated teens to drive legally on a learner’s permit

  • Financially protects drivers with learner’s permits

Cons
  • More expensive than adding a driver with a learner’s permit to a parent’s policy

  • Teens younger than 18 must get parental permission to sign an insurance contract

Cheapest car insurance for teen drivers

Teen drivers face expensive insurance premiums due to a lack of driving experience and a higher accident rate than older drivers. Insurers increase premiums for teenagers to account for the added risk they pose.

Finding the cheapest car insurance policy for your teen driver may require some comparison shopping. Getting quotes from a number of companies can help you find the insurer with the best coverage for you at the best rate.

COUNTRY Financial, Hugo, and NJM are three of the cheapest car insurance companies for teens. Here’s a list of the most affordable quotes for teen drivers from several top insurers.

The below rates are estimated rates current as of: Monday, April 1 at 12:00 PM PDT
Insurance CompanyFull CoverageLiability Only
COUNTRY Financial4822
NJM8051
Hugo9887
Auto-Owners12859
Root13082
USAA15370
GEICO16474
Erie178107
State Farm19189
Metromile196124
Mile Auto217116
Safeco225119
CSAA226142
Allstate241109
Progressive261146
Clearcover265158
Elephant271152
American Family283125
Mercury290158
Nationwide307140
Liberty Mutual327154
Shelter328182
Dairyland339123
The General354163
State Auto358178
National General360160
Travelers361164
Direct Auto370181
The Hartford388247
Farmers425188
AssuranceAmerica425244
21st Century425192
Amica431263
Bristol West449200
GAINSCO477219
Anchor479187
Chubb484224
Foremost499247
Infinity513313
Commonwealth Casualty532203
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.

How to save on teen car insurance

Finding ways to save money on car insurance is especially important for teenagers, who face the highest premiums by driver age. 

In addition to joining your parents’ existing car insurance policy, you can save money by applying for discounts, setting a high deductible, choosing the right vehicle to drive, and comparing quotes.

Apply for discounts

Auto insurance companies traditionally offer customers a number of ways to discount their premium costs, and that goes for newly permitted and teen drivers, too. Here are several of the most common discounts available for new drivers:

  • Driver’s education discount: Many insurers offer a discount for teens who complete a driver’s education or defensive driving course.

  • Good student discount: If your teen maintains a B average or above, that could mean lower premiums from your insurance company.

  • Multi-policy discount: Bundling your auto insurance with other insurance products could get you a discount on all your policies. If you’ve been dragging your feet on bundling, adding a teenage driver could be the incentive you need to take advantage of this discount.

  • Telematics insurance discount: Installing a telematics device in your teen’s car will monitor their driving behavior and could lead to lower insurance premiums.

Set a high deductible

A deductible is the amount you agree to pay before your insurer pays out when you file a claim. Increasing your deductible for collision or comprehensive coverage will decrease your monthly insurance premium.

Insurance companies will decrease your premium because you’ve taken on more financial risk in the event of a car accident. If you can afford the potential out-of-pocket payment, increasing your deductible is a good way to reduce your premiums.

Choose the right vehicle

Your vehicle’s year, make, model, and safety features affect how much you pay for car insurance. Selecting a lower-value but safe vehicle for your teen to drive can help you earn lower premiums. Insurance companies may also consider the vehicle’s crash-test rating and whether the car has any safety features or anti-theft devices.

Compare rates

The best way to find cheap car insurance at any age is to compare quotes from multiple insurers at once. You can also gather quotes by visiting insurance company websites one by one, but using an online comparison platform speeds up the process. In addition to cost, you should consider coverage options, discount availability, and customer satisfaction.

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How much car insurance does a teen driver need?

Every driver, both new and experienced, must carry their state’s required minimum liability insurance. Liability insurance only covers the costs of property damage and bodily injury to a third party.

If a driver carrying this kind of coverage causes an accident, the liability insurance pays for property damage and medical care for the other party involved. But liability coverage won’t pay to repair or replace the at-fault driver’s car or pay for the medical care the driver or their passengers may need.

Teens driving in a no-fault state will also have to carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as part of their liability-only insurance.[2] PIP insurance pays for your and your passengers’ medical care if you cause an accident.[3] If you don’t live in a no-fault state, you may have the option of adding PIP insurance to cover the teen driver.

Liability-only insurance for teen drivers can be quite expensive compared to insuring older or more experienced drivers. Adding other types of coverage to the policy will increase your insurance costs, but it may be worth the price for the extra peace of mind.

Here are some other coverages that parents of teen drivers may want to consider:

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/169fdfde11/liability-coverage.svg

    Collision coverage

    This kind of insurance pays for damage to your vehicle if you cause an accident. Without this coverage, you’ll have to pay out of pocket to repair or replace the car if you’re at fault. Collision and comprehensive coverage both have deductibles that you'll have to cover before insurance pays for a covered loss.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/665da91bf7/comprehensive-coverage.svg

    Comprehensive coverage

    If your car is damaged or lost because of something other than a collision — such as theft or bad weather — comprehensive coverage will pay to repair or replace the vehicle. This coverage may not be as important as collision coverage for a teen driver unless you have reason to believe your teen’s car is vulnerable to theft or other non-collision damage.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/5285c4cd74/uninsured-or-underinsured-motorist-coverage.svg

    Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

    This coverage kicks in if you’re hit by a driver who’s uninsured or who doesn’t carry enough insurance to cover your damages.[4]

Car insurance for permit drivers FAQs

It can be confusing to figure out your car insurance needs when your teen gets a learner’s permit. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about this process.

  • Do you have to add a permit driver to your car insurance?

    A driver with a permit doesn’t have to join their parents’ car insurance, but they must have a valid insurance policy. Generally, adding your teen to your existing policy is the cheapest and simplest way to provide insurance coverage. It usually doesn’t increase the cost of premiums until after the new driver is fully licensed.

  • How much is car insurance for permit drivers?

    It usually costs nothing for you to add a permit driver to an existing auto insurance policy. If the permit driver is learning to drive using a parent’s car and with the parent supervising, then it usually makes sense to add the permit driver to the existing policy. The cost of a separate car insurance policy for a permit driver can be quite high, and permit drivers younger than 18 must have their parents’ permission to purchase an insurance policy.

  • Do permit drivers need car insurance?

    Like any other driver on the road, permit drivers must carry auto insurance to get behind the wheel. At the very least, permit drivers must carry the minimum required auto insurance, known as liability-only coverage.

  • What happens if you drive without car insurance when you have a learner’s permit?

    If law enforcement catches you driving while uninsured, you can face fines, license suspension, community service requirements, and jail time. Your specific penalties will depend on the state you live in.

Sources

  1. Car and Driver. "Adding Driver to Insurance: Everything You Need to Know."
  2. Insurance Information Institute. "Background on: No-fault auto insurance."
  3. Insurance Information Institute. "What is covered by a basic auto insurance policy?."
  4. Insurance Information Institute. "Protect yourself against uninsured motorists."
Emily Guy Birken
Emily Guy Birken

Emily Guy Birken is a former educator, lifelong money nerd, and a Plutus Award-winning freelance writer who specializes in the scientific research behind irrational money behaviors. Her background in education allows her to make complex financial topics relatable and easily understood by the layperson.

Her work has appeared on The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Kiplinger's, MSN Money, and The Washington Post online.

She is the author of several books, including The 5 Years Before You Retire, End Financial Stress Now, and the brand new book Stacked: Your Super Serious Guide to Modern Money Management, written with Joe Saul-Sehy.

Emily lives in Milwaukee with her family.

Katie Powers
Edited byKatie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
Photo of an Insurify author
Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

Featured in

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Compare Car Insurance Quotes Instantly

Secure. Free. Easy-to-use.
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