Who Provides Car Insurance for Teens After a Divorce?
If you’re going through a divorce and have kids of driving age, you’re probably not spending a lot of time thinking about car insurance. After all, even the most amicable divorces are stressful. One item that should be addressed is who is going to pay for auto insurance for any driving-age children. You can't really do 50/50 custody with car insurance, and insuring teen drivers can put a serious dent in your wallet. What are the rules? Let's take a closer look.
How Auto Insurance Works
Does insurance cover the car or the driver? It depends on the type of coverage. At a minimum, most policies have two types of coverage: bodily injury liability and property damage liability. These types of policies follow the insured driver if they drive someone else's vehicle. They also follow your vehicle if someone else drives your vehicle with permission.
Comprehensive insurance typically follows the vehicle. Ultimately, though, it's all dependent on the type of insurance policy you have and the language in the policy. As long as your teen is added as a driver to one of your policies, they'll be covered. Your insurance agent can advise you on your options regarding what type of coverage you need for your teen driver.
Given how expensive car insurance is for teen drivers, this is an issue to tackle sooner rather than later. Ideally, decide during the divorce, even if your children are young.
Custody and Auto Insurance
Often, the parent with primary custody lists the kids on their car insurance policy. If joint custody is the case, then the parent who has the kids most or during the majority of the school year may want to add the children. If the teen will be driving a vehicle at both parents' homes, then the teen should be listed on both policies.
The parent not listing the kids should still talk to an insurance agent. The insurance agent will often request a copy of your former spouse's car insurance declaration page showing the kids listed as drivers. Without providing proof of coverage elsewhere, the kids will need to be listed as drivers on your policy or listed as excluded drivers, meaning they will not be covered if they drive the vehicle.
Once listed on a parent's policy, the kids should be able to drive any vehicle. Just as someone who can borrow an insured vehicle from a friend, the same rule applies to kids.
Other Approaches to Teen Auto Insurance
If you own the vehicle your child is driving but the child lives primarily with your former spouse, the situation needs to be discussed with your insurance agent. Most likely, the child will need to be listed as a driver on your car insurance policy. Another possibility is to title the vehicle over to your teen and purchase a policy in their name.
Who lists the kids on their policy and who pays might be two separate people. Presumably, it will be determined during your separation and discussed in your divorce agreement. The insurance costs could be factored into your support agreement. Or one parent might pay for auto insurance while the other parent pays for gas and vehicle maintenance.
Who Is Ultimately Responsible?
Both of you are going to need to take responsibility for verifying a policy is in place and that it's paid on time. Insuring teens on car insurance after divorce can get complicated, mostly because every situation is different.
The best route is to get expert advice from an insurance agent who works with your insurance carrier. Different insurance carriers can have different rules from one another when it comes to insuring teens. If you can't agree, then seeking legal advice from an experienced divorce attorney could also be a smart step to take.