Give Your Teenager the Boot?

Give Your Teenager the Boot?

OK, to be clear, I am not talking about resisting your possible urge to evict your teenager. Nor am I talking about a swift kick in that place where many teenagers could use a swift kick.

What I am talking about is a question we hear quite often:  Should I take my 18+ child off of my car insurance and get them their own policy?  The rationale most often given is that this is a move to insulate themselves and their assets from any damage caused by the youthful driver.  This a mistaken premise though, simply owning a vehicle or insuring it on your policy does not make you more susceptible to being successfully sued.  Unless a parent can be proven to have acted negligently (such as tossing the keys to an inebriated offspring, or ignoring repeated acts of wanton carelessness in the vehicle), they will not be held responsible.  This is true whether or not they are on your policy.  So with that as the foundation for the discussion, here are the reasons to NOT remove your teenager until they leave the home, presumably for good.

1)       Leaving them on the policy actually provides you MORE protection than if you split them off on their own policy.  See, if they are on their own policy, it will often exclude other household members not listed as rated drivers and thereby may not tender a defense for you should you actually get sued.  Let’s remember, too, that even if they can’t prove negligence against you, that doesn’t keep them from suing you.  Plaintiff lawyers often drag as many people into a lawsuit that they can, just to see what they can make stick.  So while you did nothing wrong, you may need a lawyer to get you out of the suit.  If you are excluded, your child’s company may not provide (and pay for) that lawyer to get you out of the suit.  Your insurance company won’t get involved, because the accident didn’t happen in a vehicle they insure.  Keeping everyone on the same policy (as long as they are in the household) makes sure that everyone gets representation paid for by the company.

2)      When on one policy, everyone in the household can drive everyone else’s car.  Say your kid’s car breaks down and they need to borrow yours, if you all are on the same policy that’s not a problem.  However if not, they likely won’t be covered to drive your car.

3)      It usually costs less (a lot less) to have them on your policy.  You are likely getting many discounts (prior insurance/claims free, multi-car, multi-policy, group, professional or educational discounts) that extend to all vehicles on the policy.  Take them off of your policy and they no longer qualify for those.  In our experience, it is not uncommon for it to cost twice as much to insure a young driver on their own policy than to continue to insure them on the parent’s policy.

So, for as long as they are in your household (including away at school or away in the military), keeping them on your policy provides more coverage, more convenience and saves money.  A real “no-brainer”…  Just like a teenager!