COLUMBUS – Having regular conversations about driving safety with their teen driver, and ensuring the family has adequate insurance protection are the critical messages Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor is sharing with parents during National Teen Driving Safety Week, Oct. 14-20.
“It’s important that parents lay the ground rules with their children about appropriate driving behavior to help keep them safe behind the wheel,” Taylor said. “In addition, talking with the family’s insurance agent or insurance company about the right auto insurance will help keep the family financially protected in case of an accident.”
Sadly, car accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens and mile for mile they are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Research shows inexperience and immaturity combined with speed, not wearing seat belts, distracted driving, (such as cell phone use, loud music, too many passengers, drowsy and night-time driving, and alcohol use) aggravate this problem.
Parents may also be unsure how to best approach insuring a teen driver. Most insurance companies consider unmarried drivers under the age of 25 a higher-risk which translates into higher auto insurance premiums.
To assist parents, Taylor offers tips to help protect their driving teens and get the best value for their auto insurance dollar:
Lay the Ground Rules: Establish driving rules for safe driving, such as not speeding, seat belt usage, minimal number of passengers, no mobile phone texting, (now illegal for teens in Ohio as is talking on the phone for those 17 and under), and the amount and time of day driving is permitted. Details about Ohio’s new distracted driving law are available at http://bmv.ohio.gov/texting_ban.stm.
Shop Around: Ohio has a competitive personal auto insurance market but no two insurance companies charge the same rates. Compare costs and coverages between insurers since having a teen driver in the household does greatly affect the family’s auto insurance premium. Take advantage of discounts that various insurance companies offer, such as good student discounts. Most insurers also offer discounts for having more than one car on a policy, and having both your auto and homeowners insurance with the same company.
Purchasing a Vehicle for your Teen Driver? The difference in the cost of auto insurance for a teen driving a newer, expensive sports car versus a modestly priced economy car with liability coverage only can be significant. If shopping for an additional vehicle for your teen to drive, the cost of insurance should be part of the conversation. Make sure you discuss options with your insurance agent or insurance company. They can provide quotes on the cost of insurance for the various vehicles you may be considering to purchase.
Consider Revising Deductibles, Coverage: Whether purchasing an additional car or sharing the family car with your teen driver, you can reduce your auto insurance premium costs by raising the deductibles on physical damage (collision and comprehensive) coverages. Determine if you can afford to absorb a larger portion of your loss in the event of an accident. Also, consider eliminating physical damage coverages on older vehicles — unless a lienholder, such as a bank, requires the coverage to be maintained. Your insurance agent or company will be able to calculate the premium savings so that you can make an informed decision.
Ohioans with insurance questions can call the Department’s consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526. Information, including the Department’s new auto insurance consumer guide and young drivers tip sheet, is also available at www.insurance.ohio.gov. You can follow the Ohio Department of Insurance on twitter @OHInsurance and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OhioDepartmentofInsurance.