How Does a Teenage Driver Affect Your Car Insurance? 

It seems like a “right of passage” from childhood into becoming an adult. Your little boy or girl turns 17 and MUST have a car because everyone in school has one. Teens crave the freedom away from Mom and Dad, acceptance by their peers and the ability to show off (with the right vehicle of course!).

Teen Driving Statistics

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teen death in the United States. An average of 6,000 teens die and another 300,000 are injured annually across the nation. Teens crash for many reasons, but the most common are overconfidence, speeding, impaired driving, distraction and inexperience. In addition, seat belt use among teens is the lowest of any age group on the road.

In New Jersey, teens (17 to 20 years of age) represent just five percent of the population, but are involved in 12 percent of the crashes. In 2006, there were 55,792 teen crashes in the state. While many of the crashes were not life threatening, 48 teen drivers and 19 teen passengers driven by teens died in motor vehicle crashes in 2006, a six percent increase over the previous year. Speed, distraction and inexperience, coupled with a lack of seat belt use, were prevalent factors in these fatal crashes. And in some cases, these teen drivers had multiple violations on their driving records.

Driver Education

New Jersey is one of many states that have enacted Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws.

Graduated driver licensing is designed to introduce teenage drivers to driving in stages, over an extended period of time, in an environment that minimizes risk. A teen typically progresses through a permit phase, where he or she practices with supervision, to a provisional or probationary phase, which allows for independent driving with restrictions. Following successful completion of this phase, a teen is granted full driving privileges. The key here to educating the young driver is practice. As parents or guardians of the new teen driver, we should spend as much time as possible helping the newly licensed driver to practice their new skills behind the wheel. To this end, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC) offers a Parent's Guide to Teaching Teens Safe Driving.

Drivers holding a GDL license have the following restrictions placed upon them:

  • May not drive between 12:01 and 5:00am
  • May not have more than one friend in the car
  • May not use a cell phone (including hands free), or any other hand held electronic device
  • Driver and ALL passengers must wear seat belts

Once the new driver has completed twelve months of driving, they can apply and receive a standard New Jersey driver’s license with no restrictions.

New Jersey Fraud Laws and Auto Insurance

Insurance statistics show that since the youthful driver is 2.5 times more likely to have an accident than a typical adult driver, there will be a higher premium charged when the youthful driver is added to the parents policy.

There is a temptation then to “forget” to add the new driver to the auto policy or not list the new driver on your renewal questionnaire in order to save money even though the child is driving Mom or Dad’s car. We caution you against this practice. The State of New Jersey enacted certain fraud laws in this area that will allow an insurance company to deny a claim in the event the driver is an undisclosed household operator. In addition, the Attorney General has the ability to fine the policy holder up to $5,000.

Insurance-Friendly Cars For Teens

The decision is made. You want to buy your son or daughter their first car. It will be in your name and properly added to your policy. But what to buy? You know it's not only the car model you have to consider. You also have to think about the impact the car will have on your auto insurance.

Insurance companies surcharge youthful operators in three areas:

  • Liability
  • Comprehensive (theft)
  • Collision (damage caused to the vehicle in an accident)

If you choose a vehicle that may be older, and does not require comprehensive or collision (a lower value vehicle) the premium will be considerably less than a newer one which will require full coverage.

Because we represent many different companies, your NorthEast Insurance Services agent can help you make the right decision when buying that first car for your teenager.