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Ask the Car Insurance Expert

How much time does a parent have to add a newly licensed teen driver to the family's car insurance policy? My daughter wrecked the car before we had a chance to add her to the policy. Will we have coverage?

The good news is car insurance companies often extend coverage in cases like this, when parents make an honest mistake. However, not all car insurance companies are equally understanding, and coverage depends on the situation. It's one thing to procrastinate in adding a teen to the policy right after she gets licensed; it's another to renew the policy without telling the insurer about a teen driver.

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Your best bet is to call your car insurance agent immediately, explain what happened and make sure all household drivers are listed on the policy. Expect your premium to go up by 50 percent to 100 percent after adding a teen driver, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Teens are expensive to insure because they are at higher risk of getting in accidents than older drivers.

Do you have younger children who will someday drive? Next time, call the insurance company as soon as the teen starts driving. Some states let insurance companies require parents to list teen drivers with learner permits on their policies. In other states, the kids don't have to be listed until they are licensed. Know the rules where you live, and what your insurance company requires.

For more, see Don't hide your teen driver from your insurance company.

Last updated: Jul. 4, 2012
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