With the school year recently back in session, I have been receiving many questions from parents of teen drivers inquiring about car insurance coverage for their children. When parents of teen drivers are faced with a decision to insure their teen, they have essentially two options: add the teen driver onto the parent’s policy or title a vehicle in the teen’s name and purchase a separate policy for that vehicle.
When making this decision, the first thing a parent should be asking themselves is “is my child a responsible driver?” The answer to this question should act as your guide in reaching a final decision about whether to add the child to the existing policy. The reason this question is so important is the concept of negligent entrustment.
Let’s say you know that your child has received three speeding tickets and is a dangerous driver. Your child is then involved in an accident in which the driver of the other vehicle is hurt. Not only could you, as the parent, be looking at some pretty hefty expenses, but you could even face a lawsuit from the other driver that could expose your assets if you have your child on your own insurance policy.
In general, the owner of a vehicle is not liable for injuries caused by the careless driving of a friend or relative who operated the vehicle with the owner’s permission. However, in this situation, the legal concept called negligent entrustment allows the injured person to sue the parent because the parent knew or should have known the teen driver was unfit to drive.
If your child is a careless driver or has had a number of accidents, you might want to err on the side of caution and purchase the child his or her own policy and title the vehicle in the child’s name. The ultimate decision will invariably impact your own liability and potentially your assets should your child be responsible for an accident. Presumably, you have more to lose than does your child.
Finally, you will also want to consider the cost for adding your child to an existing policy or purchasing a new policy. In my opinion, however, cost should be the least important variable to consider.
If you have any questions about this article, or think you need some advice regarding your insurance, an accident, or injuries, please feel free to contact Attorney Greg Bair for an immediate, confidential, and free consultation to discuss our services.