Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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UPDATED: Sep 23, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • A learner’s permit gives a teenager the privilege to drive with some restrictions
  • Drivers with a learning permit may receive automatic insurance under a parent’s policy
  • If you’re living with a partner or a roommate, it may be possible to receive coverage under their personal insurance
  • In many states, law requires insurers to extend coverage to drivers in training until they are awarded their driver license
  • If you’re living independently, it’s possible that you can apply for a temporary insurance policy to cover you in non-owned autos.

In most states, teens who are between the ages of 16 and 18 are eligible to apply for a learner’s permit so that they can legally get hands-on experience behind the wheel. While a learner’s or instruction permit does grant you the privilege to drive, as a first-time driver who hasn’t yet proven their skill level, you’ll have a long list of restrictions you must abide by. Start comparing car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!

Before you can apply for a permit, you’ll need to complete a specified number of classroom hours and driving hours in driver training. You’ll also need to pass a written test and an eye test through the DMV. After you’ve provided proof of your identity, passed the tests and paid the necessary fees, you’ll be issued a provisional permit.

With a provisional license, the permit holder can only drive with an adult who has their license and driving experience.

The guardian supervises the driver and is expected to take control of the wheel if the driver panics or is unable to avoid an accident. For this reason, in the eyes of a permitted driver isn’t consider to be as big of an exposure as a newly licensed operator.

Because drivers with a learners permit present unique risks, there are special rules surrounding auto insurance coverage and how you can qualify. In some cases, coverage will automatically be provided to someone who lives in the household and holds a valid permit. In other cases, the driver must be listed. Read this guide, and learn about buying insurance for teen drivers with instruction permits and issues that can arise.

Why do you need coverage when you’re not officially licensed?

Auto insurance is a requirement when you own a vehicle, but it’s also a necessity to protect your assets or your parent’s assets. If you’re under the age of 18, you can’t legally own your own property or be taken to court and held liable for damages that you cause. Your parents, however, can be held responsible for your negligence. This is why it’s important that you have coverage that pays for damages and injuries you might cause while you’re learning to drive.

If you’re 18 years old or you’ve been emancipated and you’re considered an adult, you are legally responsible for any damages that you cause because you’re an independent driver. In this scenario, having a loss without insurance can lead to the following:

  • Court costs
  • Judgments
  • Settlements
  • Wage garnishments
  • SR-22 requirements
  • Loss of driving privilege

So even though you don’t yet have your own car to insure, choosing to drive without some form of third-party liability insurance could be a mistake that could haunt you for years. This is why you’ll need to search for a specialty nonowner’s policy.

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Is a teen driver a permissive user?

It’s easy to assume that only the drivers listed on the declaration’s page of a policy are covered to drive the listed vehicles. With this being said, there is a long list of provisions built into personal policies that extend coverage to drivers who aren’t actually listed.

Permissive users receive automatic coverage in a covered auto when they don’t live in the home or have regular access to your vehicles. Permissive users must have a valid license to fit into this classification. Unfortunately, since a driver with a learner’s permit doesn’t have a license and does have regular access to the car, they can’t be granted permissive user status.

How are drivers with a learner’s permit covered under a parent’s policy?

Fortunately, there’s a special insurance provision just for teen drivers in the household who have a provisional license. Most of the larger insurance companies will provide a parent with an automatic coverage extension to their teen driver until they have their driver license.

Insurance laws vary from state to state, but in all states the vehicle that’s being operated by a permitted driver needs to be insured.

Carriers also have their own rules about when a teen driver can be rated on the policy. Be sure that you contact your agent and let them know a new driver in the home is applying for a permit so that you can take the necessary steps. Hiding this from the company could result in uncovered accidents and financial hardships.

Are you covered on a partner’s or roommate’s policy?

If you’re away at college and you don’t live with your parents, there could be other ways to go about getting insurance with your provisional license. Some insurance policies will offer student away at college classifications, but you’ll need to see if you’re eligible for coverage with a permit.

In other cases, you might be able to get insured through your roommate’s or partner’s policy since you live in the same household. This is something that you’ll need to verify before leaning on coverage.

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Can you find insurance independently with only a permit?

If you live on your own and still have a learning permit, you might find it difficult to qualify for standard car insurance. If you don’t own a car, it’s possible that you could apply for short-term insurance that will provide you with liability coverage and possibly medical coverage.

You’ll need to check the requirements to see if you’re eligible for a temporary policy since some companies have age and license restrictions. If you own a car and you still have a permit, you’ll need to have a licensed primary driver listed on your policy to be a named insured. This will be the only solution to comply with state insurance laws.

While it might be difficult to find coverage independently with a permit, it’s possible that you already have coverage through a family member or household member. Be sure to check with the company directly to avoid coverage disputes. When you’re licensed, you’ll need to shop around for coverage by getting rate quotes. To make this task easier, use a rate comparison tool online and find out what your premiums will be in just minutes. Start comparing car insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our FREE tool below!