It’s often best to remain on a parent’s car insurance policy for as long as possible so you can avoid the higher cost of stand-alone coverage. But depending on your insurer and your state’s insurance laws, you may be required to get your own policy. Life’s milestones, like going off to college, getting your first apartment, or buying your first vehicle, can indicate when you need to make the switch.
When You Need to Buy Your Own Auto Insurance
Unlike health insurance, a child can remain on a parent’s car insurance policy indefinitely. This applies to all ages of children, whether you’re an 18-year-old high school senior, a 35-year-old living with Mom and Dad, or a 50-year-old supporting aging parents. In fact, if you live with your parents, you may be required to be listed on their policy, even if you have your own policy or don’t drive.
However, you may be required to carry a separate policy, even if you live with your parents and are listed on their policy. The terms and conditions that dictate this can vary among carriers and between states but often include the following situations.
- The title is in your name: Many states don’t require a vehicle to be registered and insured under the same name as long as the vehicle resides where the owner of the insurance policy does. But if your state requires that the title and insurance bear the same name, you’ll need to buy a separate policy, even if you live with your parents.
- You move to another address (not for college): Insurance follows the vehicle, so if you move, the insurance company will likely require that you get your own policy.
- You’re a college student and the title is in your name: If you’re going to college, don’t live at home, and the title is in your name alone, you’ll probably need to get your own policy.
College kids can usually stay on their parents’ auto policy, even if their school is out of state—provided they return home for the summer (their permanent address is still the same as their parents) and the vehicle’s title is not in their name alone.
When You Can (or Must) Stay on Your Parents’ Car Insurance
In certain cases, a child may be able to remain on their parents’ policy, even if they move to another address. But always check with your insurance agent about the provider’s requirements and any state insurance laws that apply.
- You live at home and drive a shared vehicle: Children who live at home and are of driving age usually must be listed on their parents’ car insurance policy, even if they have their own car and separate policy. Typically, insurers will require that all household drivers are listed to assess risk when setting your premium.
- You’re away at college but still use the family address: If you move out to attend college and take a car registered in a parent’s name (or jointly registered), you may be able to stay on your parents’ policy instead of purchasing your own. This exception is less likely if you live off-campus and away from your parents’ home year-round.
- You regularly drive your parent’s car: Children who regularly drive their parents’ vehicles should be listed on the insurance policy, regardless of where they live.
Should You Stay on Your Parents’ Insurance?
Teens and young adults pay higher insurance premiums than older adults, particularly for stand-alone policies. If you drive a shared family vehicle and live at home, it’s probably best to remain on your parents’ policy until you reach your mid-20s, when rates may decrease and you’ve had a chance to build good credit.
According to Nationwide, more than 90% of insurers use credit-based insurance scores to determine your rate, citing studies that claim credit is a predictor of insurance losses. California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington ban or limit the use of credit-based insurance scores in determining rates.
If you have no credit or poor credit and your parents have good credit, consider remaining on their car insurance policy until you can establish a favorable credit history.
If you remove a child living at home from a policy that covers a shared family car, the insurer may require you to exclude them. This means the policy will no longer provide coverage if they drive it.
Getting your own policy can also affect discounts. Your parents may qualify for discounts for which you won’t, such as a bundling discount for home and auto policies or an affinity discount for being a member of an association.
Likewise, you may have earned a good student or good driver discount that further reduces the rate. If you’re a working adult who still lives at home, consider remaining on your parents’ policy and sharing the cost of insurance.
Getting Started With Your Own Insurance
If you’re shopping for your first auto policy, follow these tips to get the best coverage and premium.
Shop around: Always get quotes from several insurance companies before purchasing a policy. Insurers weigh factors like your credit score and driving record differently, so rates can vary widely, depending on your situation. If you’re buying a new car, get insurance quotes before you buy to find out how much it will cost to insure.
Know state minimum requirements: Each state has minimum auto insurance requirements. Often, minimum coverages don’t provide sufficient protection, so ask an insurance agent how much coverage you should purchase in light of your circumstances. If you lease or finance an automobile, your leasing company or lender will also require you to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage.
Take advantage of discounts: Discounts can sometimes greatly reduce the cost of car insurance. Insurers offer all types of discounts for earning good grades, insuring a vehicle equipped with safety and security devices, taking a driver training course, and purchasing more than one policy. Some providers offer more discounts than others, and discounts can vary by state.
Determine your deductible: The deductible is the amount of money you pay out of pocket if you file a claim. For instance, if you have a $500 deductible and a $1,500 claim is approved, the insurance company will pay $1,000. Decreasing your deductible will increase your premium, and raising it will give you a lower rate. Before buying a policy, determine how much you can afford to pay out of pocket.
Can You Stay on Your Parents’ Car Insurance When You Move Out?
It depends. If you go away to college, you may be able to remain on your parents’ policy because your parent's address is still your permanent address. But if you move out to live on your own at a new address, you’ll likely need your own policy. State insurance codes and your insurer’s terms and conditions may also affect your ability to remain on your parents’ policy if you move out. Note that you can not use their address to score more affordable rates either unless you are a full-time student.
Can You Still Be on Your Parents’ Car Insurance When You’re Newly Married?
If you get married and continue to live with your parents, you may be able to remain on their auto insurance policy. But if you move to another address, your insurer will probably require that you get your own policy.
Can You Stay on Your Parents’ Car Insurance If You Move to a Different State?
Typically, insurers will require you to purchase another policy if you relocate. An exception may be if you attend school out of state and your parents own the vehicle you take with you.
Is It Cheaper to Be on Your Parents’ Car Insurance?
In most cases, staying on your parents’ policy costs less than buying your own. Typically, rates decrease when young drivers reach their mid-20s, but several factors determine your car insurance premium, including your credit history, driving record, location, make and model of the automobile, and the types and amounts of coverages you buy.
Is There an Age Limit for Being in Your Parents’ Car Insurance?
No. You can stay on your parents’ auto insurance policy indefinitely. However, you may be also required to purchase your own policy if, for example, you live elsewhere or have a vehicle titled in your name only.