August 20th, 2009

McDonsterWheels05So he’ll soon be driving on his own – and you know what that means…

Heart attack for mom. But also, it means that my insurance rates are about to get all sorts of jacked up. Nana understands, and she sent me this article about how to cut the cost of insuring your teen.

Me, I think we should just lock them in their rooms and not let them go anywhere, but well, folks tend to frown on such things. I can’t understand WHY… :)

The article is full of tips to help us parents deal with the insurance woes – as well as some frightening statistics:

Unfortunately, inexperience combined with lack of judgment helps explain why young drivers are more likely to crash and to die:

* Car crashes are still the leading killer of people age 15 to 20.

* Young drivers are three times as likely to die in a crash as those aged 25 to 64.

* The younger the driver, the more accidents: The crash rate for 16-year-olds per million miles driven is nearly three times as high as for 19-year-olds, and nearly six times as high as drivers aged 20 to 24.

So now, I don’t feel quite so bad that my son still isn’t licensed at 17.5 years old. But my time (and ability to sleep) is running out. He’s a senior in high school starting Monday, and he has The Beast, which he – oddly enough – expects to be able to drive on his own at some point. Sheesh. Talk about high expectations!

Here are some of the suggestions to help keep down the cost:

1. Find out how your insurer assigns drivers to cars.
This is different with each insurer, and often they’ll assign the driver who’s most expensive (the Teenager) to the car that’s most expensive. Allstate does that, in order to help cover the risks of young drivers. This can double or even triple your premium, especially if you have new cars.

Suddenly I’m very glad we both have cars that are 16 and 37 years old, respectively. I’m also glad that I get to assign the drivers to our vehicles, it’s not done for me. Check it out through – and remember that it is usually cheaper still to put your teen on your policy rather than getting them their own. Don’t be scared to ask for a quote for all approaches though!

2. Keep those grades up!
Though driving ability is not based on your grades, some insurers will still give a discount to students who maintain a B average or better – Better students are seem as more responsible or something.

I’m screwed on this one. Moving on.

3. Take Driver’s Ed.
This is an AWESOME tip. It eases the mind of the parent knowing that they’ve been taught by a professional – so take this break if you can get it.

I made the choice to teach my kid – AND let my dad teach him. He taught me, and I do pretty good. That and I couldn’t afford the Driver’s Ed (it’s not offered through our schools), so. If you have the option, take it!

4. Jack up your deductibles.
common sense – higher deductibles, lower premium. It is scary though, but we all know it’s smarter to use the insurance for big disasters rather then covering small stuff out of pocket.

Besides – that dent gives your car CHARACTER. Right?

5. Take your college student off the policy.
Only if he’s not driving while at collage, of course.

6. Don’t buy new cars.
Sure, you want all the fancy new safety features for your kids, but the fact remains – new cars = more insurance. If you are serious about containing you overall costs – don’t buy a new car for yourself or your kid.

I got this one DOWN. And I only have the minimum required insurance on my vehicles. It’s the only way I can afford the insurance at all, to be honest.

7. Consider not reporting fender-benders.
Ok, so the insurance company HATES this idea – but really, is the scratch in your fender THAT big a deal? It’s overall a better idea to pay for it out of pocket, and keep mum. Or make your TEEN pay for it. They’ll think twice that way!

Those are all short term ways- but here’s some cost-cutting life-saving tips too.

Insist on more supervised driving.
Some states now require 50 hours of supervised driving, and have adopted a ‘graduated license requirement’. Alaska is one of those states. your first license is “Provisional” for 6 months, and you have to be alone in the car (unless it’s a sibling or an older licensed driver). While I would have complained about this requirement when I got MY license? I love the idea now that I’m a mom of a driving teen. :)

Restrict nighttime driving.
As I’m “nightblind” myself, this is a great idea in my opinion. Problem is – this works really well during our Summers, as we’re the land of the Midnight Sun. However, in the wintertime? Well, the kid will be driving in the dark.

Limit Passengers
Fatality risks rise with the number of people in the car, especially if the passengers are male. This is where my love of that provisional license comes in once again.

Limit other distractions
No cell phone, ease up on the bass on your stereo (or simply love that The Beast doesn’t even HAVE one) etc.

Zero Tolerance.
Here’s where my mantra comes in – TALK TO YOUR KIDS. They want this responsibility. You want them to be responsible. So get together with them, and discuss your individual rules for allowing them to live drive. Make sure that they know the consequences for going against the guidelines that you have agreed on. If necessary, make them sign a contract.

I can’t say it enough – TALK TO YOUR KIDS. There is nothing that beats that first, legal, solo drive. It’s a coming of age all it’s own, and we want it to be good for them, like it was for us. Tell them your war stories, tell them the good, the bad, the ugly, and let them voice their wants and concerns until you are both on the same page.

Then stick to it.

And put 911 on speed dial…

Posted in Driving | 1 Comment »
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