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Is my 16-year-old son covered on my auto insurance policy?

It depends on whether he is a licensed driver. In some states he may be covered automatically if he has only a learner's permit. However, if your son already has his license, then you need to add him to your policy no matter where you live.

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As you know, driving instruction permits allow teens to drive under certain restrictions. They must be accompanied by an adult licensed driver and, in some states, are allowed to drive only in the daytime.

Insurance companies in some states can require you to list a teen with a driving permit on your car insurance policy. According to the Insurance Information Institute, those states include:

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Many insurers don't charge insurance premiums for teens with instruction permits, but you should still check to see if you need to list your teen on your policy.

Let your insurance company know when your son gets his driver's license, and be prepared to pay higher car insurance rates. As an age group, teens are the riskiest drivers on the road -- largely because of inexperience. The crash rate per mile driven for 16- to 19-year-olds is four times the risk for older drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Ask your insurance company about discounts to reduce your premiums. Many insurers offer discounts for good grades in school and for completion of driver training courses.

Whatever you do, don't try to hide your teen driver from your insurance company to save money. "Forgetting" to mention your teen driver when you renew your auto policy could be considered misrepresentation, and insurers in some jurisdictions would then be allowed to deny a claim if your teen got in an accident.

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

Last updated: Nov. 22, 2010 Redesign Survey