Will your teenager be driving soon? As a parent, the view from the passenger seat can be scary at first, but fortunately, the insurance side of the equation is manageable. There are several steps you can take to promote an affordable and safe driving experience for your teen. Check out our summary below.
The Texas Sure program
The Texas Sure program became effective this year, meaning law enforcement officers can instantly verify whether or not any driver has active auto insurance coverage. The program is designed to reduce the number of uninsured drivers and cut costs for insured Texans, who are paying an estimated $1 billion annually in optional coverage to protect themselves on the road.
According to an article by cbsnews.com, Texas is one of the 10 states with the lowest average premium hike for teen drivers, coming in at 71 percent. And I Drive Safely reports the average insurance premium for parents and a teen in a two-car household is $2,912.
Teen reflexes aren’t fully developed and they lack the driving experience needed to make good judgement calls. A safe driver course can offset these shortfalls, giving you greater peace of mind and possibly making your teen eligible for an auto insurance discount.
Work with an independent insurance agency so you have access to many different companies that offer safe driver programs and discounts for teens. I Drive Safely offers a Texas Education Agency (TEA) approved teen driver’s ed and safety course for $25. They also offer driving courses for adults. You can likely qualify for additional savings yourself by completing a drivers safety class online and sending the certificate to your insurance carrier.
In addition to drive safe programs, many companies offer discounts to students who keep their grade point average at 3.0 and above. Be sure to ask about this option.
When your child leaves for college, consider having him or her leave the car at home. Often you can receive a “distant driver” or low mileage discount.
Safe driving tools
Maintaining a clean driving record is one of the surest ways to keep premiums low. Consider installing a monitoring device in your teen’s car to track behavior behind the wheel. Many teens slow down and pay attention when they know parents can monitor them.
Some auto insurance companies offer usage-based insurance programs that monitor driving behaviors via a cell phone or a hardware monitoring device. Ask your insurance partner if a usage-based insurance policy might make sense for your teen driver.
In addition, consider installing an app on your teen’s phone that blocks calls and texts while driving. For example, the TextBuster device blocks text messages, emails and apps as long as the car is turned on and moving. For emergencies, calls can still be made and received.
You may save additional dollars by putting your teen into an older four-door versus a showy ride. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s report indicates which cars are considered the safest. Insurers use these statistics to evaluate models and price your coverage accordingly.
How much coverage should your teen have? Texas law requires minimum coverage of 30/60/25: $30,000 bodily injury to one person, $60,000 bodily injury to more than one person and $25,000 property damage. Because your teen is more likely to be in an accident, most insurance companies recommend increasing your coverage above the state requirement. This also might be a good time to consider an umbrella policy for an extra layer of liability protection.
Most importantly, make sure to sit down with your teen for a frank conversation about what safe driving means and how it impacts insurance costs. Some carriers offer downloadable contracts the two of you can print out, discuss and sign. The end-goal is to gain your teen’s cooperation in keeping safe on the road and developing excellent driving habits.
For more information about Higginbotham auto insurance and teen discounts, click here.