It’s the day you hand over the keys to your teen driver, now what?

Obtaining a driver’s license for the first time is exciting for many teenagers, but seeing a son or daughter behind the wheel causes anxiety for many parents.

“Teen drivers have the highest crash risk per mile traveled. The problem is worst among 16 year olds, whose driving experience is the most limited and whose immaturity often results in risk-taking,” says Todd Winter, executive vice president at SeibertKeck Insurance.

Characteristics of the fatal crashes of 16- to 19-year-old drivers include driver error, speeding, single-vehicle crashes, passenger distraction, alcohol, night driving, etc.

Smart Business spoke with Winter about risk management tips for when your teen gets behind the wheel.

What can parents do to help?

Don’t rely solely on driver’s education. This may be the most convenient way to learn skills, but it doesn’t produce safer drivers. Poor skills aren’t always to blame. Teenagers’ attitudes and decision-making matter more. Young people tend to rebel, and some teens seek thrills like speeding. Training and education don’t change these tendencies. Peers are influential, but parents have more influence than typically is credited to them.

Restrict the passengers. Teenagers riding in a vehicle with a beginning driver can distract the driver and/or lead to risk taking. About six of every 10 deaths of teenage passengers occur in crashes with teen drivers. Driving at night is particularly lethal, but many fatal crashes involving teen passengers occur during the day. The best policy is to restrict passengers, especially multiple teens, all the time.

Choose vehicles for safety. Teens should drive vehicles that reduce their chances of crashing in the first place and then offer protection from injury in case they do crash. For example, small cars don’t offer the best occupant protection in a collision. Avoid vehicles with performance images that might encourage teens to speed. The best choice for your teen, and for your family, is one with the latest safety technology, such as electronic stability control and side air bags.

How do teen drivers affect insurance costs?

There is no way to avoid the price spike that accompanies adding a teen driver to your policy. Because inexperienced teens have a greater chance of being involved in an accident, the cost to insure is significantly higher. Adding a teenager could mean a premium increase of 50 to 100 percent. However, there are actions you and your teen can take to offset this increase.

A teen’s accessibility to a vehicle impacts price. If your teen has a vehicle available for his or her use at all times, the premium will be much higher than if they sometimes get to drive your car. When it’s time for college, if your teen goes more than 100 miles away to school and doesn’t take a car, your premium will decrease.

Also, take advantage of other cost-saving options, not just those for teen drivers:

  • Choose higher deductibles. You can cut your insurance costs by choosing the highest deductibles you can afford.
  • Set up electronic funds transfer payments. You can avoid extra charges with billing options that don’t include service fees.
  • Get a package policy. Packaging your home and auto insurance on a single policy provides additional discounts.

When should a new driver be added to your policy?

All youthful relatives of the named insured or spouse who are residents of the household and have a valid current driver’s license are considered operators. A valid driver’s license includes a temporary driver’s or learner’s permit when the permit allows the holder to operate a motor vehicle without in-car supervision. Therefore, drivers are NOT considered an operator and do NOT have to be added to the policy until their license/permit allows them to drive alone.

Any resident relative (related by blood, marriage or adoption) is considered an ‘insured’ and should be provided basic coverage such as bodily injury, property damage and medical payments. Physical damage coverage is also available for the use of an auto listed on the policy or a non-owned auto. This coverage is provided without stipulation of being licensed.

A newly licensed driver may be eligible for discounts such as the defensive driving course, driver training, good student, resident student or family discount. Check with your agent for details.

Insights Business Insurance is brought to you by SeibertKeck