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How soon after my son gets a driver's license do I have to add him to my insurance?

It depends on the insurance company and where you live. Some states let car insurance companies require customers to list teen drivers on their policies when the youngsters get their learner's permits. A learner's permit allows a teen to drive only when supervised by an adult in the car. Most insurance companies don't charge extra for drivers with permits, even when the young drivers are listed on the policy.

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In other states, you generally can wait until teens get their driver's licenses to list them on the policy. Even if you don't have to list a teen on your policy yet, it's a good idea to let your car insurance company or agent know that your teen is working toward getting a driver's license. Your agent can inform you about recommended driver instruction programs and provide materials about learning to drive safely, including sample parent-teen contracts to set ground rules for using the car.

Adding your son to your policy once he has his driver's license will boost your premium, but don't conveniently forget to inform the insurer just to save money. Failing to notify the insurer about a new driver in the household, especially when you renew your policy, could be considered misrepresentation and put coverage in jeopardy if your son is involved in a car accident.

Young drivers are expensive to insure because they are more likely to crash than older drivers. The crash rate per mile driven is four times higher for 16- to 19-year-olds than for older drivers, and the risk is twice as high for 16-year-olds as it is for 18-year-olds and 19-year-olds, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Ask about discounts to save money on car insurance rates. Most companies offer good student discounts for high school and college students who earn at least a B average.

For more, see When to add your teen to your car insurance policy.

Last updated: Apr. 25, 2012 Redesign Survey