Can You Get Car Insurance With a Permit?

Most car insurance companies shy away from selling an auto insurance policy to a provisional driver—that is, a driver with only a learner's permit. In fact, auto insurers who issue car insurance coverage to a permitted driver typically stipulate that the driver must get a driver's license within, say, 45 days of buying the policy. Some companies will even require a parent or guardian to co-sign the provisional driver's auto insurance policy. But many drivers with only a learner's permit can purchase insurance if they own their own car, live alone and are unable to join an existing policy.

Since inexperienced, young drivers are considered to be a higher risk than experienced drivers, auto insurance for a provisional driver costs a pretty penny. But whether you're a provisional driver or the parent/guardian of a provisional driver, you can still find an auto insurance policy that is more affordable and meets your auto coverage needs. What's more, there are always ways to lower your insurance rate. For example, you may even be eligible for discounts that are specifically aimed at student drivers. Here's everything you need to know:

How To Get Car Insurance with a Learner's Permit

If you have a learner's permit and you're looking for auto insurance, you most likely own your own vehicle. Let's take a look at what insurance you'll be expected to carry to drive legally in your state.

Minimum Liability Insurance

Permitted or licensed, young or old, every driver with a car is required by their state's laws to purchase a certain minimum amount of auto insurance. Unless your vehicle is registered in New Hampshire or Virginia, you'll definitely have to purchase liability insurance, which helps to pay for the injuries and property damage that result from an accident caused by you. For example, a driver whose car is registered in California must purchase the following state-mandated minimum liability coverage:

  • $15,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $30,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $5,000 property damage liability per accident

In California, the typical teen driver between the ages of 16 and 19 will pay $241.04 per month, on average, for the state's mandated minimum amount of auto insurance, while a driver in their 40s will pay about $149.26 a month.

Other State-Mandated Minimum Insurance Requirements

Other states demand their motorists to carry not only liability insurance but also uninsured motorist and personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (MedPay) coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage pays for your injuries and property damage if you're the victim of a hit-and-run driver or the at-fault driver has no insurance. PIP and MedPay cover your medical bills, regardless of who is at fault.

For example, Massachusetts requires its drivers to purchase not only liability coverage for bodily injury ($20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident) and property damage ($5,000 per accident) but also insurance for the following:

  • $20,000 uninsured motorist coverage per person
  • $40,000 uninsured motorist coverage per accident
  • $8,000 personal injury protection

In Massachusetts, the typical teen driver between the ages of 16 and 19 will pay $215.71 per month, on average, for the state's mandated minimum amount of auto insurance, while a driver in their 40s will pay about $106.43 per month.

To find out your state's mandated minimum coverage, visit here.

Great Rates on Car Insurance for Permit Drivers

Learner's Permit and Insurance Cost

You may be able to save up to $3,000 a year if you're included on your family's policy. Drivers with only a learner's permit usually get a better rate when they are included on an existing policy, rather than purchasing their own separate policy.

The cost of auto insurance varies from state to state, from auto insurer to auto insurer and from customer to customer. However, if you have a learner's permit, you're between the ages of 16 and 19, and you want to purchase your own auto insurance, you can find on the list below the average per-month cost of your state's mandated minimum amount of auto insurance coverage.

State Avg. Auto Insurance Cost per Month for 16- to 19-Year-Olds
New Hampshire$171.49
New Jersey$322.91
New Mexico$193.51
New York$345.99
North Carolina$92.49
North Dakota$181.34
Rhode Island$286.55
South Carolina$266.70
South Dakota$169.74
West Virginia$241.92

What Happens If I Don't Have Car Insurance?

If a driver with a permit causes an accident and also happens to be the sole policyholder of that vehicle's insurance, the permitted driver's insurance would pay for any damage suffered by third parties as a result of that accident.

However, if a permitted driver causes an accident in a vehicle that is uninsured, they may be subject to fines, license and registration suspension, vehicle impoundment, community service, jail time or an SR-22 requirement. And these penalties are just for a first-time offense without an accident!

Also, since you didn't have even your state's mandated minimum liability coverage at the time of the accident, you would be on the hook—that is, legally responsible and court-ordered—to pay for all damages out of your own pocket.

Do I Need Car Insurance with a Learner's Permit?

You will need car insurance if you buy a car are are gifted a car. If you are a young driver living in a household with one or two parents or a guardian who has a car that is insured, make sure you are a named insured if you use that car. Otherwise you may not be covered.

Auto insurance typically follows the vehicle, not the person. So, if you are learning to drive, the vehicle you use needs insurance, and that coverage is most often the parent's or guardian's coverage.

If you have a learner's permit and borrow a friend's car only to wind up in an at-fault accident, your friend's auto insurance will most likely cover you as a "permissive driver," which means the owner gave you permission to use your car, even though you are not a "named insured" on their policy.

Great Rates on Car Insurance for Permit Drivers

How Does a New Driver Affect Car Insurance?

If you are a parent or guardian, you must notify your insurance carrier that you want to add a new or unlicensed driver to your auto policy. Your insurer may have specific restrictions related to a driver with a learner's permit, so it's a good idea to ask you insurance agent about what your policy covers and what it doesn't cover.

Since auto insurance exists to mitigate risk, your auto insurance rate goes up when your exposure to risk expands. New, completely inexperienced drivers usually get their learner's permits at 14, 15 or 16 years old, and that age group is especially likely to drive recklessly due to several known factors:

  • Inexperience in general
  • Inexperience with driving at night
  • Speeding
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Not using seatbelts
  • Distracted driving

"Adding a teenager to an insurance policy can mean a 50% or even a 100% increase in the parents' insurance premium," notes the Insurance Information Institute.

What Can I Do To Lower My Insurance Rate?

Every auto insurance company offers discounts, which serve to lower your auto insurance premium. In fact, most auto insurers offer discounts specifically designed for young drivers:

Bundle or Multi-policy

A discount applies to policyholders who insure more than one asset with the same insurer, like a home and auto bundle, or several cars with the same insurer for a multi-policy discount. So, if you are a provisional driver and own your own car, you can work out a deal with your parent or guardian: Ask if they will add your car to their own auto insurance to save some money. You'll reimburse them for your policy's premium and you'll get the lowest rate.

Good Student

A good-student discount can lower the insurance cost for high-schoolers and college students who earn good grades. While some insurers stipulate a benchmark grade-point average or SAT, ACT or PSAT score, others recognize a certain class ranking or students who make the dean's list or honor roll.

Defensive Driver

If the permitted driver completes a defensive-driver course or enrolls in a driver-training program, they may be eligible for a discount. Your insurance company will have a list of approved defensive-driving courses, so check with your agent before signing up. Once the course has been completed, your agent will want to see the certificate of completion.

Student Away from Home

If a college student uses a car during school breaks and holidays, you may be eligible for a nice savings on premiums since your riskiest driver rarely drives the car. Like other discounts, the student-away-from-home discount has certain criteria: For example, your student may have to be younger than 25, and their school may have to be more than 100 miles away from home. Your car insurance company will verify your student's enrollment status and that they don't have a car at school.

A "good student" or "student away from home" discount can lower your rate.

Associations and Memberships

You may be able to save on your policy premium if your student is a member of a sorority, fraternity or honors society. Not only that, some insurers give a discount just for attending a certain school or being an alumni of that school. Finally, some insurers offer discounts for provisional drivers who are in the military, including ROTC programs.

Can You Register a Car with a Learner's Permit?

You do not need a learner's permit (or a driver's license) to register your vehicle in your state. However, most states require you to present proof of insurance, among other documents, as part of the registration process.

To register a car, you need proof of insurance, not a learner's permit.

Proof of insurance means you have auto insurance. Also known as an auto insurance ID card, proof of insurance is necessary not only for registration but also for routine traffic stops. Some people try to scam the system by presenting a fake insurance ID card, but law enforcement can find out that it's fake in minutes!.

To find out your state's registration requirements, go to the website of your state's department of motor vehicles or department of insurance.

Insuring a Driver with a Learner's Permit

Unless your vehicle is registered in New Hampshire or Virginia, your vehicle is required by law to have auto coverage. If you have a learner's permit and your own car, you may have a tough time finding auto insurance. It's especially hard finding insurance as a teen, and the cost will be extremely expensive when you do find a carrier.

Your best bet for a lower-than-average insurance cost is to be included as a "named insured" on the existing auto insurance policy of a parent or guardian. Most auto insurers have discounts that apply to young drivers, too.

Drivers under 21 with a learner's permit have the highest average insurance rates.

If you're getting a permit and will soon have a car, it's a great time to shop around for auto insurance. In fact, the best way to find the cheapest auto insurance is by comparing policies and prices. The cost of insuring a driver under the age of 25 is extremely high, but SmartFinancial can help you to find a rate that is lower than your area's average rate. Just enter your zip code below for free, real-time quotes or call 855-214-2291 to speak with a licensed insurance agent.

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