Teenage Drivers- how it impacts you, your teen and your insurance

Teen Driver and InsuranceWhy Talking to Your Teen About Driver Safety Can Be a Challenge:

Have you ever tried to get a square peg into a round hole?  It can seem impossible.  That is how it can feel when trying to get your teenager to listen to you, especially when it is something important.

The truth is that though teens can appear tough to teach, it doesn't always mean that they do not hear you.  Studies show that teenagers do actually listen to their parents, teachers and other role models.  They just don't like to admit it.

Why Talking to Your Teen About Driver Safety is Critical:

As the saying goes, little kids have little problems while big kids have big problems.  This is evident as you watch your child progress from playing with a toy car to driving an actual one. To ensure your teenager is safe, you both need to be on the same page with understanding the expectations and limits of your teen driving on their own or with friends.  Here are some reasons why:

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for US teenagers with six teens ages 16 - 19 dying every day in the US from motor vehicle injuries
  • 56% of teens said they talk on phone while driving
  • More than 40% of teen auto deaths occur between 9:00 pm and 6:00 am

Tips on Teaching Your Teen about Driving Safely:

1. Lead by example.  Children are sponges and primarily learn by watching parents.  If you speed, text or use a hand-held device while driving, you are showing your child that this behavior is acceptable.  If you don't want your teen doing something, you should not be doing it yourself.

2. Discuss, review and sign a parent-teen driving contract.  It puts in writing the expectations of safe driving and consequences of not following through on those expectations.  

New Hampshire Teen Driving Restrictions:

Though NH does not issue driving permits to young drivers, it is required that all drivers under the age of 18 attend driver's education.  New Hampshire is also one of the many states to enact GDL (Graduated Driver Licensing).

The purpose of GDL is to gradually allow the full privileges of a driver's license more slowly time, once the young driver has more experience.  In New Hampshire some of the driving restrictions include:

  • a night-time driving restriction between 1:00 am and 4:00 am until driver is 18
  • for the first six months, a newly licensed operator can not have more than one passenger under the age of 25, who is not a member of driver's family, unless with a licensed adult of at least 25-years-old
  • no texting (applicable to all licensed operators in New Hampshire)
  • can not operate motor vehicle with more passengers than seat belts

Youthful driving requirements do vary by state, so it is important that you are aware of the applicable laws in any state where your teenager will be driving.  This will avoid having to pay for a ticket in that state, as well as the very costly increase that would be seen on your NH car insurance policy.  

For current information on youthful operators, visit the NH DMV website.

texting while driving

How a Teen Driver Impacts NH Auto Insurance:

Most people are aware that an inexperienced or young driver is much more expensive to insure than a driver that has years of experience under their belt.  This thought alone can scare a parent into "forgetting" to add their new driver to their NH auto policy.  Please note however that we strongly discourage this practice.

The State of New Hampshire has certain fraud laws in this area that will allow an insurance company to deny a claim in the event the driver is an undisclosed household operator. In addition, the Attorney General has the ability to fine the policy holder in the range of thousands of dollars.

For more information on this topic, visit one of HPM's most popular blogs, What If I Don't Tell My NH Car Insurance Company about My Teen Driver.

Insurance-Friendly Cars for Teens

Your teenager has shown that they are a responsible driver and can handle their own car.  You are going to buy a car, but first there are a few issues that need to be decided before you actually do it.

Who will legally own the car, you or your child?  There are benefits and drawbacks to both options:

Insurance impact of teen's car owned by parent:

The benefit would be that the vehicle would be on the policy with other cars so there would be a multi-vehicle credit.  If your auto policy is also with the same company that insures your home, the "new" car would also get a multi-policy credit.  Given that many adults also have established credit, the additional car would also get that credit as well.

The drawback is that if you own the car and put it on your policy, it is all your liability.  If your teen has an accident it would also most likely impact the entire policy, not just that vehicle.

Insurance impact of teen's car owned by teen:

The drawback is that it would most likely be more expensive as your teen would not get a multi-car, homeowner or other credits you have on your policy.

The benefit is that there is a higher degree of responsibility if your teen owns the vehicle.  They may be less likely to speed if they know they have to pay for not only the ticket, but also the increase in premium they would see.  If your teen is 18 or older, there may also be a benefit to furthering your own liability and assets from a youthful operator.

Regardless of who owns the vehicle, if you buy a car that is a little older and without a loan, you could consider removing collision coverage.  The premium would be considerably less, but you need to be comfortable walking away from the car, without major financial impact.  Without collision there may be no coverage for the vehicle itself if damaged.

How to get the best insurance rate for my teen driver:

Because HPM Insurance is an independent insurance agency, we are kept informed about the many different insurance companies in NH who may be a match for a youthful driver. 

Is your teen an honor roll student or away at school?  If so, be sure to let your agent know as these facts can provide significant discounts on your NH auto insurance.

Contact us today, and we would be happy to give you specific advice that will fit you and your teenager needs.  Stay safe!