Teenagers, cars and insurance

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Thursday 5th April 2012

When my teenage daughter celebrated her 17th birthday I rashly promised that I’d buy her a car once she’d passed her driving test. We lived 20 miles from her school at the time, a journey that took more than an hour as the number 59 bus wove its way through the pretty villages of north Oxfordshire. Not surprisingly, she couldn’t wait to ditch her bus pass and drive her own car.

It took her nearly a year to do it but she passed her test first time (thank you to BSM’s wonderful Tracey). So despite my misgivings I threw caution to the wind and bought her a second-hand Renault Clio. That’s when, like many other parents, I discovered how expensive it is to insure a car for a teenager. So when the Sainsbury’s Bank Family Bloggers Network asked if I’d like to run a guest post on car insurance for teenagers on House With My Name, it seemed like a pretty good idea. Here it is:

Will you be paying for your teenager’s car insurance?

Most teenagers can’t wait to pass their driving test and discover ultimate freedom with their first car. Before you know it, a savings account will be empty and a new motor will be parked outside, waiting to be driven by an ecstatic teenager. Only trouble is, it could cost them thousands of pounds to insure.

Cue an intervention from loving parents, who are only too happy to help out. Is there any harm in lending a helping hand? Well, that’s the question. So to avoid any major headaches, it’s important to be aware of the pros and cons.


First things first – if the new driver is to have their own car, it will be worth their while choosing one with a small engine. Anything sporty or with modifications will add to an already large insurance bill. 
Some insurance companies won’t even insure 17 to 20-year-olds, even with a small car. This is mainly due to the high risk posed by younger drivers, especially 17 to 19-year-old males, whose average claim according to 2010 figures is £3,433 – almost three times more than a male over 50. 

Now, that’s not to say all teenagers are dangerous drivers, but it explains why insurance providers are wary.

‘Fronting’ the policy

Many parents choose the option of adding their teenager as a named second driver on their own policy, and this can be a good way of saving money. However, deliberately ‘fronting’ a policy for a teenager when they are in fact the main driver of the vehicle is considered fraudulent. If the young driver was to have an accident, the insurance company could refuse to pay out, and might even prosecute.

Insurance providers have methods of discovering who the main driver of a vehicle is – they might examine the contents of the car or trace who’s been paying for the fuel bills. So if you’re going to name anybody on your own policy, make sure they remain the second driver – and that they drive safely, of course.

Protect your no claim discount

So adding a teenager to your own car insurance can save you money, but there are also disadvantages. For example, they might not be able to build up their own no claim discount this way, and that could be important in reducing their insurance bills in the future. So consider choosing a policy that offers a no claim discount to second drivers, as well as the main policy-holder.

Another disadvantage is that your own insurance premium could increase with a young driver added, plus you may risk losing your own no claim discount if the second driver has an accident.

Every teenager is different

As a parent, you’ll know your teenager the best and make your decisions accordingly. Some might feel it best to delay the age their offspring starts their driving lessons, until they’re older and in a better position to pay their own way – and their insurance bills might be cheaper by then too!

Some parents might consider lending their teenager a percentage of the insurance premium, on the condition they’re prepared to earn the remainder. This option allows them to appreciate the responsibilities of being an adult – surely an important lesson.

Whatever option you choose, it’s essential that you and your family pick a car insurance policy that meets your needs.

Guest blog written by Jules Anthony.

3 comments so far

  • When my elder daughter was learning to drive, the family car was a Volvo estate. We investigated adding her to our insurance policy – and found the complete cost of buying and insuring a car for her was less money!

  • It’s crazy, isn’t it, Maryom? I sold my daughter’s car when she went to university but now my son wants to learn to drive this summer. The guest blog is v useful though.

  • Teenagers and car insurance are hard thing to mix. It’s hard to find a good and affordable plan for them, but there are deals out there, you just have to keep searching for them. Call, compare, and ask questions. The insurance companies would love another client, so they’re willing to help you find a good deal to.

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