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Your child just became eligible to drive.  You will no longer need to be chauffeur to your child, and his or her friends, to school activities, the movies or to the mall.  It is time to celebrate.  But wait, before you do that, you should consider the financial ramifications and impact on your car insurance of letting your child use your car.  What your young driver does, while driving your car, has a direct impact on what you pay for your insurance.

Due to the fact that your young driver doesn’t have a long driving record for your insurance company to consider, as it decides what rate to quote you to insure them, one of the biggest things you need to do is work with your young driver to prevent the need to file any claims and avoid traffic violations.  Teaching your young driver to be a safe driver is essential.

The following are 10 tips you should consider as you decide to hand over your keys to your child to drive and shop for the best car insurance coverage for yourself and your young driver.

1. Know the local and state laws related to drivers under the age of 21.  You need to be fully aware of when your young driver can drive and who can be in the car with them.  Laws vary from state to state and you should know what the laws are so you can make sure that your child does not break them.

2. Mandate driver education for your young driver.  You may be excited that you are the best driving instructor around and that your child passed their driver exam and road test on the first try, however that does not mean they shouldn’t take a driver education class.  Many schools offer low cost classes and you can learn about other options from your local DMV office.  Most insurance carriers offer auto insurance discounts when driver education classes are taken by drivers on a policy.  

3. Avoid distracted driving.  Thousands of accidents happen every year due to someone being distracted when behind the wheel of a car.  This can happen from talking on phone, texting, adjusting the radio or even talking with your passengers.  It is very important that you have a serious discussion with your child about this and take steps to minimize the chance of this happening.  The easiest way to make sure you are paying the optimal amount for your car insurance is to avoid having any claims.  No claims also means your child will be safer when behind the wheel and your auto insurance premiums will be lower.

4. Teach your young driver to drive in a defensive manner.  It seems that most drivers say, ‘I’m a good driver, I wish everyone was as good as me.’  Having this attitude is a mistake and can lead to overly aggressive driving and a higher risk of accidents.  All drivers, young and old, should assume that ‘everyone’ on the road is a ‘bad’ driver and drive in a defensive manner.  This means, they are cautious and don’t ‘assume’ that the response time and skill of other drivers is the same as their own.

5. Add your young driver to your policy as a driver.  This is one of the biggest mistakes many parents make when their children get their driver’s license.  Many parents just assume that their child will be covered when they drive the family car without making adjustments to their policy.  Parents should contact their insurance company prior to allowing their child to drive their car, even while they are practicing with their learners permit.  In some cases, this may impact your premium.  This would be a good time to comparison shop your car insurance policy to make sure you are obtaining the optimal coverage for your family.  A good place to start comparison shopping is Smart Financial, an online auto insurance comparison site.  

6. Good grades can mean lower premiums.  Many insurance carriers offer student driver discounts when the student/driver has a good grade point average (gpa).  This is a great way to incent your young driver to focus on their school work so that you will be able to save money on their car insurance.  

7. Tell your carrier if you have someone on your policy away at school.  If your young driver decides to go away to school, that is at least 50 miles away, you need to notify your insurance carrier.  Many insurance carriers will discount the rate you are paying for the additional driver due to the fact they won’t be driving your car often.  

8. As long as your young driver is living at home, they can stay on your auto insurance policy.  Unlike health insurance, your young driver can remain on your auto insurance policy as long as they are living at home and driving your car.  Once your your driver gets a car of their own, they will need to purchase an insurance policy in their own name.

9. Comparison shop your insurance at least once a year.  A year or more of maintaining a claim free, accident free and ticket free driving record can mean paying less on your auto insurance.  You should know when your policy is up for renewal and obtain an annual quote from 2-3 companies to make sure you are paying the optimal amount for your auto insurance.  Sites like United States Insurance and Smart Financial make the process of comparison shopping for insurance quick and easy.

10. Obey the law.  Speeding tickets, moving violations and other traffic infractions can have a dramatic impact on the rate you pay for your insurance.  Obeying traffic laws is essential if you want to pay the lowest amount possible for your auto insurance.  It is important to make sure your young driver knows all the laws and understands the importance of not breaking them.