Here is what every parent needs to know about the cheapest ways to insure a teenager:
Yes, you have to insure your teen driver
Virtually every insurer will require that all licensed family members in a household be included on your policy, whether they drive your cars or not. You should let the insurer know when the child gets his learners permit, but typically the teen isn't listed (or your policy charged) until he or she is licensed.
If you are divorced and have only part-time custody of your child, you'll have to consult your insurance company. Each company has its own rules regarding insuring a teen as a single parent. The best case is that the parent with primary custody adds the new driver; the worst case is that both parents do.
The only way to avoid paying the premium for a teenage driver on your own car is a named exclusion. Through an endorsement to your policy, you and your insurer agree that the driver is not covered. Any claim caused by that driver isn't covered, either.
Your teen could insure his or her own car, but state laws governing teen ownership of cars differ widely. In general, a minor cannot own property or sign contracts, such as an insurance agreement, without a parent's consent and signature.
It is almost always cheaper to add teenagers to an existing policy than to exclude them, and then buy an additional car and insure that, says CarInsurance.com consumer analyst Penny Gusner.
Choose a car that's cheap to insure
If your household has several cars, it can help to have your new driver assigned to a specific one -- the one that's cheapest to insure.
If your child will have a car of his or her own, one place to start when looking for a car is the IIHS's website, which lists insurance losses by make and model for vehicles built prior to 2010. Those vehicles with lower auto insurance losses will typically have lower auto insurance rates, while providing more protection if your teen is in a crash, Rader says.
The site also has a listing of the IIHS's top safety picks for 2011 and older model years.
And just having a car with a powerful engine can be a temptation, Walbert says. "If you have that kind of power available, perhaps you'll use it." Instead, she recommends four-door sedans and crossover vehicles.
Don't overlook car insurance discounts
If your teen can't get by without wheels, check with your insurer to see what types of discounts for teenagers might be available.
Assert your parental influence
Several insurance companies offer monitoring devices that keep an eye on your teen's driving behavior. That may mean sending you a notification if your teen does something he or she is not supposed to do; providing the teen with verbal feedback; or transmitting video of the driving using a two-way camera.
Depending on the system installed, it might monitor certain specified behaviors, like speeding, seat belt usage, hard braking and cornering, arrival and departure times, or moving the car when it isn't supposed to be moved.
One deterrent to widespread usage of such devices may be their cost, as well as the monthly monitoring fee, Rader says.
With the Teensurance program offered by Safeco, auto insurance discounts of up to 15 percent are offered if the Safety Beacon GPS-based system is used.
"We want to create a tool that helps parents and teens having a discussion about what safe practices are," says Shawn Anderson, product innovation architect at Liberty Mutual Insurance, which owns Safeco.
Another option is technology that blocks cell phone calls and text messages when a vehicle is in motion and is aimed at preventing distracted driving, Rader says.
And Ford has introduced MyKey on some vehicles, which can be programmed to limit a vehicle's top speed or the volume of audio devices, he says.
"A lot of technology exists and will become more widely available in the future,"
Also check out this article from the Insurance Journal on Teen Drivers.
Call Northside Insurance Agency for help with auto insurance for a teen driver and learn about how to keep rates down when adding a teen driver to your policy.