Help protect teen drivers and manage insurance costs

Traffic crashes are the second leading cause of death among Minnesota teens, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

“Parents should talk with their teen drivers about the importance of safe driving and to make sure they understand the risks and responsibilities of driving,” said Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley. “Adding a teen driver to your policy can be expensive, so it is worth checking your insurance coverage for potential discounts and consider revising deductibles. Shop around for the best policy for your family needs.”

SETTING EXPECTATIONS

Work with teens to respect the dangers of driving and lay some ground rules for safe driving before they ever get in the driver’s seat. Set up driving rules, including:

Hours during which the teen can and cannot drive:

Per Minnesota law, for the first six months of licensure, driving is prohibited midnight-5 a.m. Exemptions include:

Driving when accompanied by a licensed driver age 25 or older.

Driving between home and place of employment.

Driving to/from home and a school event for which the school has not provided transportation.

Driving for employment purposes.

The nighttime limitation is lifted after the first six months of licensure.

Number of friends allowed in the car at one time:

Per Minnesota law, for the first six months of licensure, only one passenger under the age of 20 is permitted, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. For the second six months of licensure, no more than three passengers under the age of 20 are permitted, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Number of miles the teen is allowed to drive per day or week:

You may want to consider setting up a driving contract with your teen, listing the teen’s duties and responsibilities when driving and caring for the vehicle.

Talk with your teen about the dangers of distracted driving, which contributes to nearly one in five crashes in Minnesota. Remind your teen of Minnesota’s “Hands-Free” law, which only allows a driver to use their cell phone through voice commands or single-touch activation. Drivers are not allowed to hold a phone while driving.

Remember, teens under 18 with a driver’s permit or provisional driver’s license cannot make or answer calls while driving (even in hands-free mode). They can use their phone in hands-free mode in the following situations:

Using their phone as a GPS device, but only in hands-free or voice-activated mode. They must set their destination before driving. They cannot hold their phone at any time.

Listening to music or podcasts in hands-free or voice-activated mode is okay, but hand-held scrolling through playlists or channels is not allowed under the law.

Calling 911 in an emergency situation. If there is an immediate threat to life and safety, they can use the phone in either hand-held or hands-free mode.

INSURANCE OPTIONS

It pays to comparison shop before buying insurance. Different companies can offer noticeably different premiums.

Some discounts include:  

Two or more cars on a policy

Participation in driver education courses

Good student driver under age 25

Airbags or other safety equipment

Anti-theft devices

Auto/home insurance on same policy or with same company

If cost is a factor, then consider coverage options and may reduce your auto insurance costs by raising the deductibles on physical damage (collision and comprehensive) coverages. Review your current deductibles and consider whether you can afford to absorb a larger portion of the costs in case of an accident.

Also, consider lowering or eliminating physical damage coverages on older vehicles — unless required by a lienholder such as a bank.

Regularly review and update your policy

Regularly review your policy to make sure the basis for your premium (how much you pay for insurance) is as accurate as possible. Your premium can change when adding or removing a vehicle from your policy and when your teen graduates from high school or reaches age 18.

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