Auto Insurance Teenage Drivers and Parental Responsibility

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  1. The law for teenage drivers varies from state to state. There are special laws and insurance requirements for young drivers, who are new and inexperienced to the road and operating a motor vehicle.

    Teenagers are High Risk Drivers

    Teenage drivers are considered to be in the “high risk” drivers category. As such, it is important to know and understand laws and requirements for teenage drivers and those obtaining learners permits. Most driving limits set for teenage drivers include restrictions on passengers and the time of day driving limit (such as no night time driving permission.) Parental involvement is important in helping teens develop safe driving habits and parents are responsible to make sure their teens are educated on driving safety and have taken the proper driver’s training and learning courses. As the teen progresses in their driving experience they are given less driving restrictions until they finally accomplish an unrestricted driver’s license level. As a result, most states in the United States now have a “graduated” driver’s license system which provides for different levels of permission for driving a car. In an effort to stem the high death rate of teen deaths due to automobile accidents, states have raised the minimum driving age and began placing greater restrictions on young drivers.

    Parents Must Provide Insurance

    Each state has its own requirements for obtaining automobile insurance and has adopted various financial responsibility laws. Minimum requirements for insurance to cover accidents, injuries, and death and property damage are required in all states and apply the same to adults as well as teenage drivers. Parents are required to add their teenage driver to their insurance policy or purchase a separate policy for them so they can be legally on the public roadways. Even though parents are required to make sure their teen driver is insured and themselves carry insurance, parents may still be held liable for damages caused from an accident involving their teenage child. A parent who allows a reckless teenager to drive (or who may know that their teenager is reckless) may be sued if their teenager negligently causes an accident. Parents are responsible to supervise teen driving, especially when the teenager is driving on a learners permit. Parents should make sure their teenage driver is abiding by the restrictions on their driver’s permit or license. For example, if the teenager disobeys the restriction from driving with another minor alone in the vehicle and is in an accident, the parent might be held liable. When a teenager is on an errand for a parent or is working for a parent in a job capacity that involves driving, the parent might also be held responsible for accidents. One exception to a parent’s liability for the accidents of a child is when the teenage driver uses the car of a parent without permission or consent. Additionally, if a parent is a non custodial parent and their teenager gets into an auto accident, they can not be held responsible, only the custodial parent can.

    Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler
    Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of, A. Research Scholar at Columbia Business School and of-counsel to Kaplan, Williams & Graffeo, LLC. He was also an SVP and chief Internet strategist at and legal consultant at Kroll Ontrack, a leading service e-discovery and computer forensics service provider.


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