If you have a son or daughter going off to school in the fall, congratulations are in order! You’ve worked hard to help prepare them for the next step in their education; of course, in addition to the pride you feel for your kid, you’re probably also more than a little nervous if they’re headed out on their own for the first time. Especially if that also means driving with less supervision. If your child will be using your vehicle to commute to and from school or around campus, learn how to protect them while keeping your insurance rates as low as possible.
Does how often my child drives affect how I add them to my insurance policy?
How often your child drives your vehicle will determine how you add them to your policy and what you’ll pay in additional premiums. Insurance companies place people who operate your vehicle on a regular basis into three main categories: primary, secondary and occasional drivers.
Simply put, the primary driver of a vehicle is the person who drives it most often. It’s possible for someone other than a car’s owner to be considered the primary driver. If you allow your child to take your vehicle to college or university, they need to be named as the primary driver on your insurance policy.
A secondary driver drives your car regularly but not as often as the primary driver. If your child lives at home and uses your vehicle on a regular basis, they will likely be considered a secondary driver. Adding a secondary driver to your policy will usually result in your insurer charging an additional premium, especially if the secondary driver is young and/or inexperienced.
An occasional driver drives your car even less than a secondary driver, usually only once or twice a week. If your child has only limited access to your vehicle, talk to your insurer about whether this driver designation is appropriate.
Not adding your child under the proper driver designation to your insurance policy could result in them not being adequately covered if an accident were to occur. Talk to your insurance broker about how to add your child to your policy so they’re protected at all times when they’re behind the wheel.
Why has adding my child to my policy increased my insurance costs?
If you’re a seasoned Ontario driver, you probably already know that auto insurance tends to cost more in this province compared with most others. You probably also instinctively know that adding young drivers to your policy will raise your rates—but why? All insurance companies base their rates on the statistical probabilities of different types of drivers making mistakes while driving that could lead to tickets or collisions. This means that insuring a student driver will likely bump up your rates, even if their driving record is clean. Young male drivers are also typically more expensive to insure than young female drivers. The good news: the more years that go by and the longer your child is able to maintain a clean record, the cheaper the premium associated with your child should become. And remember, if they’ve obtained a Driver’s Training Certificate in the past three years, that may also help with your rates.
What else can I do to minimize the premiums I pay for the young driver in my household?
Fortunately, there are other ways to minimize the impact your child has on your insurance rates besides waiting until they turn 25, which might be after they’ve graduated from college or university and have a car and insurance policy of their own.
- Driver Training: Completing an accredited Driver Training Course (DTC) will teach a student driver valuable driving techniques and road safety skills. In addition to the peace of mind you get knowing your child is a well-educated driver, you’ll likely also get a break on insurance costs.
- Report Cards: Some insurance companies will take documents such as your child’s report cards into account when calculating rates, as proof that your child is reliable and responsible; and, whether your child is in high school, college or university, what parent doesn’t love the chance to show off their kids’ hard work and academic success!
- Occasional Driver Status: If your child was on your insurance policy as a secondary driver while they were living at home, but now they’ve gone off to school and only have occasional access to your car, you can talk to your insurance broker about how much you can save.
How can I prove to my insurance company that my licensed child living at home won’t be driving my car?
It’s not uncommon for students to live with their parents while they attend local schools, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your child needs to be covered under your insurance policy. Maybe they have their own vehicle and insurance policy, or maybe they’ve opted to take advantage of student discounts for public transportation. Either way, if you’re sure that your child won’t be using your car, fill out Ontario’s OPCF 28A form together. Once you submit this form to your insurance company, your child becomes excluded from your policy and can’t drive your vehicle under any circumstances until you notify your insurer to add them back onto your policy.
What happens to my insurance rates if my kid gets a speeding ticket while they’re away at school?
Unfortunately, if your child is driving a vehicle covered under your policy while they’re at school, their speeding ticket can impact your insurance premiums in the same way any other secondary or occasional driver’s speeding ticket would.
Trust, honesty and financial responsibility are important factors in this type of situation. If you trust your child enough to drive a family car to school, then you probably also trust them to be honest about any driving mishaps that may occur. The fact is that any traffic tickets will be on your child’s driving record for at least three years, and this could impact your insurance rates when your policy is renewed, regardless of whether they tell you about it.
Before you let the young driver in your life use your car, make sure they understand that it’s your responsibility to know the driving records of everybody covered under your insurance policy, and if they get a ticket, you’ll appreciate their honesty so you can plan for any costs together.
Preparing to send your kid to school is a good opportunity to revisit the importance of responsible driving. Whether your son just received his G2 or your daughter’s been driving since she was 16, you can use the gesture of trusting post-secondary school-aged children with a family car as another teachable moment about the responsibilities associated with entering adulthood. While you’re making the drive to their chosen school, you can impart all your parental wisdom about what to do after an accident, how to handle receiving a speeding ticket, and general car maintenance tips. And don’t forget the important conversation about avoiding texting and driving. Your child might act like they don’t want to hear your advice, but they’ll probably appreciate your concern and the time you spend with them before they embark on their next academic adventure.
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