Can You Get Car Insurance With Just a Permit?
You can get auto insurance with a learner’s permit, but it can be difficult since not all companies are willing to insure provisional drivers. If you do obtain coverage, the cost of your policy will be more expensive than average. If you’re a young driver, your most affordable coverage option is to be added to your parent’s policy.
Drivers who only have a learner’s permit — also known as driver’s permit, learner’s license and provisional license — can get auto insurance. However, obtaining coverage can be challenging because only a handful of companies are willing to provide insurance to provisional drivers. Since provisional drivers are still learning how to drive, they’re seen as riskier to insure and are charged higher premiums.
If you’re a teen learning to drive for the first time, MoneyGeek recommends joining your parent’s insurance policy, if possible. You might already be covered under their current plan.
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It’s possible to get insurance even if you only have a learner’s permit, but only a handful of companies offer coverage to provisional drivers.
Provisional drivers tend to have significantly higher premium rates than licensed drivers because they’re still learning and are seen as riskier to insure.
If you’re living with someone — such as a parent or partner — who has their own auto insurance policy and you have permission to drive their vehicle, you can usually be covered by their insurance.
Getting Car Insurance With a Learner’s Permit
There are two ways you can get insurance with just a permit:
- You can be added to an existing policy that your spouse or parents have. This method is the most affordable option for teens driving for the first time.
- You can purchase a separate policy — however, keep in mind that your premiums will be significantly higher than average.
Adding a Provisional Driver to an Existing Car Insurance Policy
In most cases, provisional drivers don’t have to buy their own car insurance. They can be added to their parent’s or spouse’s policy. For some policies, the driver need not be added to the policy formally — as long as they’re driving the insured car with the owner's permission, that owner’s insurance will cover them.
If you’re thinking of getting car insurance for someone with a learner’s permit by adding the provisional driver to an existing car insurance policy, there are certain steps you’ll have to complete.
Contact your insurance company and request to add a new driver to your policy.
Give your insurance company a call or contact them online to let them know you want to add a provisional driver to your policy. Ask them about the process and requirements.
Review your quote.
Your car insurance provider will give you a quote based on their evaluation and the information you provided. See if the amount the company has quoted is reasonable.
Check for discounts.
After getting a quote, ask your insurer if the company offers discounts. Some companies may give discounts if a more experienced driver is also included on the policy.
Shop around for a better deal.
It may also help to get quotes from other insurance providers since your rates are likely to go up after adding another driver to your policy. It’s okay to switch car insurance companies or policies if you can find a better deal — doing so won’t negatively affect your rates or how insurers perceive your risk.
Purchasing a Separate Car Insurance Policy with a Learner’s Permit
There are only a handful of insurance companies that accept permits. That’s especially true for younger drivers. Many insurers don’t want to take on the extra risk of providing coverage to younger drivers who are still learning. Older, first-time drivers may have better luck finding car insurance, as they’re viewed as less risky compared to young first-time drivers. It's always best to take stock of your options to find the best car insurance for first-timers.
To illustrate the potential cost difference: the cheapest coverage option for a 40-year-old first-time driver is State Farm, with an average rate of $1,747 per year. A similar policy costs an average of $3,309 for an 18-year-old first-time driver.
Insurers will likely require provisional drivers to provide personal information and information about their vehicle and driving history to get car insurance.
It’s important to note that driver’s permit, learner’s permit, learner’s license and provisional license all refer to the same thing. These are all different names for the restricted license given to someone who’s still learning to drive and hasn’t satisfied the prerequisite to receiving a driver’s license. If you own this type of document, you’re called a provisional driver.
Do Learner’s Permit Drivers Need Insurance?
Permit drivers do need insurance. Since they’re still learning to drive, they’re at a higher risk of getting into an accident than other drivers.
When deciding how much insurance you need, make sure it meets the minimum car insurance requirements set by the state.
Each state has specific insurance laws. That means the minimum coverage requirements vary depending on where you live. Liability coverage can provide some protection against possible financial loss in the event of an at-fault accident, but full coverage is best because it covers damage to both the car being driven as well as damage to the other driver’s vehicle.
That said, needing insurance doesn’t mean provisional drivers have to buy a separate policy. A provisional driver would only need their own coverage if the vehicle they’re using to learn is theirs and only their name is on the title. If you live with a parent or spouse who has their own policy, chances are, their insurance already covers you, or you can be added to it.
If the vehicle you’re using to learn is yours and only your name is on the title, you’ll need a separate policy. If you live with a parent or spouse with a policy, check if you’re already covered as a provisional driver.
Cost of Car Insurance as a Provisional Driver
Car insurance with a learner’s permit can be expensive. While there are some ways to bring car insurance costs down, it’s best to join someone else’s policy if you can.
Generally, provisional drivers have higher insurance rates than licensed drivers. Insurance for young provisional drivers can be particularly expensive.
Older first-time drivers are seen as less risky to insure, so their rates are generally lower than teen drivers. For instance, a 40-year-old first-time driver pays an average of $2,664 per year. That’s less than half as much as the cost for 18-year-old first-time drivers, which is $6,528.
These rates follow general car insurance trends, where teens pay significantly higher rates for coverage than adults. However, keep in mind that these premiums are averages and insurance rates vary by state.
How to Save on Car Insurance as a Provisional Driver
- Join your parent’s or spouse’s policy.In most cases, insurance companies allow the addition of provisional drivers to a policy. Joining an existing policy will help you pay less for car insurance.
- Look for discounts.Ask insurers if they’re offering significant discounts for adding provisional drivers to existing policies. Some companies give discounts if a more experienced driver is included in the policy.
- Take a defensive driving course.Completing a defensive driving course will improve your driving skills and potentially make you eligible for discounts from some insurers.
- Shop around.Compare prices between insurers. This way, you can find the best and cheapest policy for your circumstances.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many provisional drivers may find permit insurance confusing. To make navigating coverage easier, MoneyGeek answered some frequently asked questions about auto insurance for drivers who only have learner’s permits.
About the Author
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Transportation Safety: Get the Facts." Accessed October 22, 2021.