Getting Car Insurance for a First-Time Driver
First-time drivers have a lot to learn before freely roaming the nation's roads and highways. Car insurance may not be the first thing a new driver thinks about, but perhaps it should be—it's an important aspect of a driver's responsibilities. Every state aside from New Hampshire requires drivers to maintain at least some level of insurance coverage.
When drivers do think about insurance, the cost is often a big concern, along with having the right coverage. In most cases, adding the new driver to an existing car insurance policy is the easiest and cheapest way to get covered.
Below, you'll find an explanation of why first-time drivers should join an existing plan, along with some extra cost-saving tips.
Benefits of Being Added as a Driver
Aside from the benefits of being covered by insurance, there are many reasons that first-time drivers should consider joining an existing policy, rather than seeking out a new policy for themselves.
Proof of Prior
As a first-time driver, you do not have current car insurance. Car insurance companies consider uninsured drivers "high-risk." High-risk drivers pay a higher premium than a standard or preferred driver. A shortcut around having no previous insurance is to be added as a driver on an existing policy. Your premiums will likely be lower since you're joining a policy that has insurance history.
If the primary policyholder enjoys any additional benefits, aside from a steady insurance history, those benefits may be extended to you, as well. For example, some people cut insurance costs by bundling their car and home insurance policies. A teen driver getting insured for the first time may not own a home, but their parents might, and the teen driver can enjoy bundle discounts by joining their parents' policy.
Small Down Payments (Or None at All)
A small or nonexistent down payment is a great perk to being added to an existing car insurance policy. This perk depends on the type of policy you're joining, as well as how that policy is billed.
For example, if you are being added onto an existing preferred policy, the higher premium to cover you might not go into effect until the next billing cycle. Starting a new policy on your own, on the other hand, often requires more than a single month's worth of premiums as a down payment.
When a New Driver Can't Join an Existing Plan
It may not always be possible to be added as a driver on another policy. If you are a first-time driver getting insurance on your own, know that you can do it, but prepare to pay more.
There are a couple of factors that work against new drivers. For one, teen drivers and other new drivers have very little driving experience, so insurance companies charge a higher rate. As mentioned above, you'll also pay high-risk rates since you don't have a history of insurance coverage.
While rare, there are instances when a new driver could save money by getting their own policy. An example would include cases in which a teen driver drives a cheap car, but their parent drives a luxury vehicle. It may be cheaper to open a separate policy that just covers the cheap car, rather than add the teen to a policy that covers both an expensive and a cheap car.
Tips for Cutting Costs
Joining an existing plan isn't the only way for new drivers to save on insurance. Here are a few more tips that can help, whether or not you managed to get added to someone else's plan.
Get several quotes from different insurance carriers to help determine which company will offer you the cheapest rate. Look for companies that specialize in offering affordable coverage for high-risk drivers. You can also find agencies that provide quotes from multiple companies you qualify for simultaneously, which saves you time.
Pay in Full
Many car insurance companies offer a discount for paying six months' worth of premiums at once. Paying in full shows your commitment to maintaining continuous insurance, and insurance companies reward you with a discount. It is not easy for everyone to save up that much money for a one-time payment, but you will save money if you are able to do it.
Shop Again in Six Months
Once you have maintained continuous insurance for six months, it's time to start shopping for a cheaper rate. New drivers should not take a "set it and forget it" approach to car insurance. Six months of coverage could be all you need to switch from a high-risk carrier to a preferred carrier, and that could be the biggest savings you will ever see in insurance premiums.
The Bottom Line
Getting car insurance for the first time can be an intimidating task, but it's what every driving adult needs to do. Help from a family member can make life a lot easier, but it isn't the only way to get covered.
If you're on your own, stay strong, and stick to the plan. You'll eventually get affordable coverage. The biggest hurdle is maintaining coverage for your first six months on the road. Once you make it through your six-month trial period, you'll take a major step toward reasonable car insurance rates.