Do Drivers with Learner’s Permits Need Car Insurance in California?

young teen driver in driving school with instructor

All drivers in the State of California must have proof of car insurance. This is true whether you’ve had your license for 20 years or you’re a teenage motorist driving on your learner’s permit. 

It makes sense when you think about it. If the family car is totaled by your fifteen-and-a-half-year-old student driver, you’d be in just as much financial crisis without car insurance as you would if the driver was you or your spouse. 

Let’s take a closer look at the insurance responsibilities of all Golden State drivers (and drivers-to-be). 

California, Plus 47 Other States, Require Car Insurance 

You’d have a pretty short list if you were to document all the U.S. states that don’t require their drivers to have auto insurance. That compilation consists of … New Hampshire and Virginia. 

Drivers in those states who don’t have coverage are placing themselves at high risk of financial disaster if they’re responsible for an accident. 

Offsetting the High Cost of Insuring Young Drivers 

You might wonder about the insurance regulations regarding student drivers in California simply because you’ve been shocked at the high cost of insuring your teenage driver in the Golden State. You understand the importance of obtaining coverage, but you’re clueless how you’ll pay to insure your kids as they get old enough to drive. 

Like all forms of insurance, the cost of coverage is calculated by the insurance company weighing the odds of having to pay out more than they acquire in premiums. If the underwriters calculate that the risk of payout is low, the premiums will stay low. If the risk is deemed to be high, the rates for coverage will escalate—or the company will refuse to insure the applicant at any price. 

Auto insurers have found that the youngest drivers—particularly males—are more likely than older and more experienced drivers to drive too fast and recklessly. As a result, they get more speeding tickets and have more road accidents. That’s why young drivers in California will pay more for car insurance than veteran motorists.  

Once you get over the sticker shock for auto insurance for young drivers in California, you can concentrate on strategies to offset that high cost and actually lower premiums. Sometimes substantially. Here are a few examples. 

young teenage boy behind wheel of car
  • Accept a Higher Deductible 

Your deductible is what you agree to pay for a covered event before your insurance pays the rest. So, if you have a $500 deductible on $2,000 in damages, you pay that first $500 before your insurance company settles for the other $1,500. 

You can reduce your premiums by accepting a higher deductible. If, for instance, you agreed to pay for the first $1,000 in damages, your premium rates would get knocked down considerably. 

The downside, of course, is that you’ll be responsible for paying more out of pocket. So make sure you have fairly easy access to your deductible amount, or your car might be out of commission until you can afford the repairs. 

  • Buy Minimal Coverage Auto Insurance 

While California requires all drivers to have car insurance, one partial loophole is that you can buy a minimal coverage plan. This barebones policy only covers your liability insurance. That means it helps pay for what you would owe to others for a collision that was your fault, but not your own damages. Remember, California liability limits are low (15/30/5). Most crashes will require more than that to pay for high hospital bills and car repair costs. You’ll be responsible for the rest after your insurance company ponies up to your policy limits. 

Liability coverage pays for vehicle damages and injury to other parties as well as covering costs to the personal property of others, such as if the responsible driver hits the side of a house. 

Again, this minimal coverage financially benefits others, not you, if you’re at fault. This means that if your own vehicle was totaled in an accident caused by your student driver, your insurance company won’t pay anything for repairs or replacement of your car. 

The advantage of this plan is the lower rates. The obvious drawback is that you could still be left with a hefty bill if your new and inexperienced driver seriously damages your vehicle. 

  • Take Advantage of Various Auto Insurance Discount Programs 

There are many more insurance rate “loopholes” and cost-saving strategies to look for if you know what you’re doing. This includes bundling, which is the strategy of combining your auto insurance with your homeowners, life, or other policies from the same insurance company. 

Similarly, you’re likely to earn a discount by adding your car insurance for teen drivers to your family’s other auto insurance policies. 

Many insurance companies have certain other under-publicized discount programs. For instance, if you’re looking for auto insurance for young drivers, and they have gotten good grades in high school or college, some insurers will grade them as potentially more responsible behind the wheel and grant better rates. 

To gain a fuller understanding of all the various rate deduction strategies and opportunities out there, consult a knowledgeable independent insurance agent. An independent agent has access to the policies of multiple major carriers and can compare rates and conditions on your behalf. 

Get Affordable Auto Insurance in California Today 

Reach out to our independent Cost-U-Less agents to get the full details on cheap auto insurance in California for young drivers. Just call us at (800) 390-4071 or get a quick car insurance quote online. You can also find a Cost-U-Less location near you