Q. My son is about to get his driving permit. He’s 16. What tips do you have for getting less expensive car insurance without losing decent coverage?

A. Ah, yes. A new driver in the house.

Learning to drive is an exciting time for teenagers – a rite of passage of sorts.

But for parents, this time can be fraught with all sorts of emotions, including the anxiety over increased insurance premiums.

There are a few things you and your new driver can do in order to make sure your premiums don’t go up more than they absolutely have to, said Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence.

First, Fusillo said, your teenage child holding a learner’s permit does not have to be added to your insurance as the operator of a motor vehicle. This would only need to happen once he passes his driving test and gets his driver’s license.

When he gets his license, there are some ways you can minimize the insurance bite.

Do not go out and buy another vehicle for your son’s use, Fusillo said.

“If the household has, for example, two cars for three or more licensed drivers, then your teenager will not be considered a full-time driver,” she said. “This is going to cost you less than if he has a car at his disposal 100 percent of the time since he can then be considered a part-time driver.”

Ask your insurance company if it offers “good student” discounts. Fusillo said many do, and you can save by submitting your child’s report card annually to show an average of B or higher.

Also take advantage of any safe driving courses offered by your insurance. That will give another discount, she said.

You also want to make sure you’re covered for the worst.

“Consider getting a personal liability umbrella policy if you don’t already have one,” Fusillo said. “These types of policies are generally sold in coverage increments of $1 million and would serve to supplement your existing policies in the event you are sued.”

Of course, maintaining a clean driving record should be obvious, but it’s worth mentioning, Fusillo said. This means not only staying accident-free, but violation-free as well.

Finally, your insurance company may offer a loyalty discount if you’ve been a customer for a number of years, Fusillo said.

Good luck to you and your son!

Email your questions to Ask@NJMoneyHelp.


Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for The Star-Ledger and she’s the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Click here to sign up for the NJMoneyHelp.com weekly e-newsletter. Like NJMoneyHelp.com on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.

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