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Provisional driver’s licenses, also known as graduated driver’s licenses or probationary driver’s licenses in some states. They are typically issued to new, usually teenage, drivers who have passed their state’s driving exam, but need to go through a series of steps before obtaining an unrestricted license.
The Insurance Information Institute, reports that these programs are now in place in all 50 states. These types of licenses may also be issued to a driver who has a poor driving record with several more significant infractions. While a driver with this type of license must have car insurance, there are options for what type of car insurance policy they must obtain.
Provisional Driver’s License Restrictions
While provisional driver’s licenses may be given to people who have had their license suspended due to several significant infractions, the most common use of a provisional license is for new teenage drivers who are moving from a learner’s permit to a full unrestricted driver’s license.
The use of provisional driver’s licenses and the restrictions that accompany them differ from state to state. Consult your state’s Department of Motor Vehicle website for information specific to your state.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administratino reports that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in the teenage population.
Teen drivers are three times more likely to be involved in an accident than a person in their twenties or older.
For this reason, certain restrictions are put in place to help keep teens safe while driving. Restrictions may include the time of day and night a new driver can drive, the ability to have passengers riding with a new driver, and the use of mobile devices while operating the vehicle.
Some examples of specific restrictions placed on young drivers with a provisional license include:
- California – For 12 months after obtaining a driver’s license, an adult must accompany a person under the age of 18 years over the age of 20 when driving passengers in the vehicle or when driving between the hours of 11pm and 5am.
- Oregon – For the first six months after obtaining a driver’s license, a teenage driver cannot transport passengers except immediate family members. Additionally they cannot drive between midnight and 5am unless it is between work and home. For the second six months, the night restriction continues to apply, but up to three passengers under the age of 20 may be transported.
- New Jersey – Drivers under age 21 with a provisional license must display a red decal on their license plate. They cannot drive between 11pm and 5am and mobile devices are forbidden while driving whether they are handheld or hands-free.
Driving without Proper Insurance
Whether you have a provisional driver’s license or a license free of any restrictions, you must meet at least the minimum auto insurance requirements required by your state. These typically include some amount of liability insurance coverage and in some states, more comprehensive coverage. Drivers are required to carry proof of insurance with them in their vehicle.
If you fail to carry proper car insurance while driving you may face many serious consequences. If caught you will be required to appear in court and could face hefty fines and other penalties including license suspension or community service depending upon the state you live in.
Multiple infractions involving failure to carry proper car insurance will result in greater punishments. An example of the penalties you may face is the state of New Jersey where a first offender that drives without insurance will be given a one-year license suspension, a $300.00 fine, and community service hours.
Legal penalties are not the only consequences you could face for driving without car insurance. If you are involved in a car accident and considered to be at fault, you will be faced with paying for the other driver’s damages and medical bills out of your pocket. The other driver could sue you, and if you do not have the money, you could face losing your home, savings, and having your wages garnished.
Insuring a Driver with a Provisional License
You have a couple options when you are a young driver who has just obtained a provisional driver’s license. The first is to purchase your own car insurance policy. This can be a pricey option because, as a new driver and a young driver, you would fall into a high-risk insurance category. A high insurance premium is something most teenage drivers are not able to afford on their own so there are other options that may be more preferable.
A young driver can be placed on their parents’ car insurance policy while they have a provisional license.
While this is a less expensive option, it will impact their parents’ insurance standing and premium if they have an accident.
A third option is for a teen driver’s parents to add them onto their current insurance policy with a special add-on for provisional licensed drivers. This add-on will cost more up front and is not available with all insurance companies or policies. If a parent opts to do this, it will protect them from increased premiums if their child has an accident or driving infraction while under a provisional license.
In many cases, this will also help young drivers because they can build their insurance standing as long as they do not have an accident and can often receive a no claims discount once they must apply for their own policy.
Saving Money on Car Insurance for Provisional Drivers
No matter which option you choose, insuring a teen driver will cost you more money. There are several ways; however, to save money when insuring a driver with a provisional license. Be sure to ask your auto insurance company about discounts that may be available to you.
- Good Student Discount – This discount is typically available to drivers who are full time students in high school or college, and maintain a B average or better. Sometimes this stipulation varies between insurance companies and may be based on a GPA instead of letter grade average. A copy of a grade report must be submitted once or twice a year to the insurance company showing proof of the grades obtained by the young driver.
- Driver’s Education Course Discount – Young drivers who have participated and passed a certified drivers education course can often receive a discount on car insurance. While these courses often cost some money versus teaching your teen to drive on your own, a course may save money on insurance in the long run.
- Safe Driver Program Discounts –These programs differ from Driver’s Education Courses in that they do not teach a person how to drive, but how to be safe when they are driving. Many states offer these programs, as well as, insurance companies themselves. Teens may be asked to sign contracts about not drinking and driving or texting and driving.
- Only purchase the necessary amount of insurance for your teen driver – Many teens, who own a car, do not own a vehicle that is worth a lot of money. If this is the case, you may not want to spend money on collision insurance for a vehicle where repair costs would not be worth it. Liability, on the other hand, should be substantial enough to protect your assets should your teen driver cause an accident.
The Insurance Information Institute, states that you should have at least $100,000 of bodily injury protection per person and $300,000 per accident even if this is more than your state’s minimum requirements.
You must always have car insurance when driving on public roads no matter what type of license you have, including a provisional driver’s license.
Young drivers with a provisional license, as part of a graduated license state requirement, have some options for how their car insurance is obtained. They may purchase their own policy or be added to their parents’ policy.
If they are added to an already existing policy, a parent may opt to purchase an add-on for provisional drivers that would protect their premium should their teen be involved in an auto accident. While insuring teen drivers is expensive, there are ways to save money such as good student discounts and having a teen participate in a driver’s education or safe driver program.
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