Before obtaining a driver’s license, every driver is issued a learner’s permit to practice and learn the skill of driving. While a driver is in this phase they are not fully licensed to drive, but it is still important that they have insurance coverage while on the road.
People with permits are usually teens, and insuring them is a slightly different game than a full-fledged driver. Insurance is extra important for this group as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that drivers under 20 years of age are 3 times as likely to have an accident .
Insurance for permit drivers is a gray area that leaves many people feeling confused. In this article, we’ve compiled a full list of questions and answers so you’ll know everything you need to know about learner permit insurance. Let’s get started!
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About Learner’s Permits
Most states in the US have a system in place referred to as the graduated driver licensing (GDL) process. The GDL process is a series of steps that slowly takes a new driver from no experience to fully licensed.
This usually happens in 3 phases:
- Learner’s permit (driving restrictions).
- Intermediate license (limited driving restrictions).
- Full driver’s license (unrestricted driving).
The age when someone becomes eligible for a permit varies, but the typical range is between 15 ½ to 16 years old.
Permit Driver’s Insurance Policies Overview
Does a driver with a permit need an insurance policy? The answer is no, but they do probably need insurance coverage. We say probably because this is not a hard and fast rule, but rather a safe position to adopt.
A permitted driver is not required to go out and purchase their own individual policy. But what often happens is a parent (or other family member’s) existing policy is extended to cover the new driver. Assuming coverage is risky though, so it’s best to always have extra protection.
Why is it important to notify the insurance company of a new driver?
- The company will be aware that a driver with a permit is now operating a vehicle under the policy. They will tip you off if any restrictions apply.
- If you (the driver with the permit) own your own vehicle the company can advise you on the proper course of action.
- The company can fill you in on what steps need to be taken once you become a fully licensed driver.
When it comes to insurance policies, never assume anything. Future claims may be denied if you do not confirm your policy’s coverage with the insurance company. 
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it a legal requirement to add a driver with a permit to your insurance policy?
No, but regulations vary depending on state and insurance carrier so it’s good to have a conversation with your insurance company to be sure.
What should you do if your insurer requires the permit driver to get their own insurance?
If this is the case you can look into getting temporary coverage for the duration of the permit period. Afterward, it may be possible to roll them into an existing policy (often the cheapest option). The bottom line of adding a teen driver to any insurance plan is that it’s going to take a little effort and cost a bit extra.
Is a driver with a permit who is not living with their parents covered under the parent’s insurance policy?
It’s not uncommon that the one criteria an insurance company has for determining if a parent’s policy covers their teen driver is whether or not the driver resides at home. If you (or your child) do not live at home odds are high you will not be covered and need to seek your own coverage.
If an insurance company is not notified of a driver with a permit will they still cover a loss?
Sometimes, even if you don’t notify the insurance company, coverage will kick in anyway. But it’s best not to risk the possibility of not being covered — always checking is our mantra — so find out for sure.
Will premiums increase if I add a teen with a permit to my policy?
Yes, but how much depends on a large variety of factors (age of the driver, type of vehicle, existing premium, credit score, carrier, etc) and adding a driver to an existing policy is significantly less expensive than starting a new one from scratch.
Does a driver with a permit need the same insurance as a fully licensed driver?
If there is a requirement for a permit driver, it is usually for the state minimum for insurance coverage. Comprehensive or collision coverages are generally optional, but if you’re trying to get approved for an auto loan they may be required.
The day a teen starts driving can be a stressful or expensive day for many parents; make it less so by understanding the insurance dynamics in play. The basics are not complicated, just remember:
- Being familiar with the GDL processes prepares you for what is to come — from both an insurance and driving perspective.
- Knowing that a lot of policies already cover drivers with permits if they live at home can save you money.
- Having a quick conversation with your agent is likely enough to make sure you, your vehicle, and your son or daughter is covered.
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