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Your Teen Driver: Choosing a Car and the Right Insurance

Young woman with car
Now that your teen is a young adult, they're ready for more responsibility. And for many adolescents, this includes driving. A driver's license is a rite of passage for teenagers that comes with a new world of freedom. This may include getting a new job, driving to a date, or simply spending more time socializing.

If your new teen driver has their heart set on buying their own car (or you agree to foot the bill for them), choosing a vehicle isn't a snap decision to make based on appearance or horsepower. Instead, the car section process should look more like a path. Creating criteria, narrowing down your choices, and helping your teen to select the right model can help to keep them safe while giving you peace of mind.

What do you need to know about buying a car for your teenage driver? Here are some of the common questions that parents have.

Is New Better Than Used?
There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. If you're comparing a brand-new, top-of-the-line SUV that comes with a high safety rating to a 15-year-old, rusted-out sports model that hasn't seen the inside of a professional service shop for years, the answer is to buy new. But if you're looking at a used car that is in like-new or excellent condition that has some miles on it but comes with plenty of safety features, the answer may be to save some money and buy pre-owned.

Never sacrifice safety for savings when it comes to your child's car. You want your child to have a car that has important safety features, such as working airbags, anti-lock brakes, a backup camera, and side sensors. Depending on the car, either a new or a used car can have these options.

What Kind of Car Is the Safest for a Teen?
Again, you aren't likely to find one ultimate answer to this question. Different groups and organizations, such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), set safety criteria and rate cars based on their standards. These types of guidelines can help you to pick a car that is safe for your teen driver.

Keep in mind that a safe car that hasn't been maintained well may lose some of its quality features. If the car is rated well but is in a state of disrepair, it isn't a good pick.

The IIHS recommends taking several teen-specific factors into mind when choosing a safe car for your teen. These include opting for a lower horsepower engine to avoid speeding, picking a larger, heavier car and making sure that the vehicle comes equipped with electronic stability control (you'll find this as standard in cars made in the 2012 model year or after).

Along with these factors, look for a car that has a high crash test rating. Make sure to search for recalls. A used car with an outstanding recall (meaning a problem that hasn't been addressed and repaired according to the manufacturer's guidelines) isn't an option for your teen. Recalls happen for a reason. Ignoring them can put your teen and everyone else on the road at risk.

Do Teens Need Auto Insurance?
When you finally make the decision and buy a car for your teen (or they buy one for themselves), you need to make sure that they're insured. For teens under 18 who live at home, this means adding them to your policy.

Even though teen drivers are typically more expensive to insure, bundling them in with your existing policy may save you some of the costs. Beyond that, many insurers offer other discounts to help reduce the price of insuring a new driver. These may include discounts for taking driver's education classes or discounts for safety features that the car has.

Always ask your insurance agent what you can do to get the best price for your budget.

Do you need to insure your teen? Contact Southern Harvest Insurance Agency Inc. for more information.


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