Who Buys Your Teen Car Insurance if You are Divorced?

Both parents are responsible for making sure their teen has car insurance after a divorce, but they’ll need to choose one policy to list them on.
Written by Pat Roache
Reviewed by Amy Bobinger
After a divorce, a teen driver should be listed as an active driver on the
car insurance
policy of the parent who has primary custody and a non-active driver on the other parent’s policy. 
  • After you and your spouse divorce, you’ll need to split your car insurance into two separate policies.
  • If you have primary custody of a teen driver, you’ll need to list them as a named insured driver on your own insurance policy and a non-active driver on the other parent’s policy.
  • Even if you share joint custody, the teen should still only be listed as an active driver on one policy so you aren’t both paying a premium.

Buying car insurance after a divorce

Married couples who are navigating a divorce will have to split their current policy into separate car insurance policies once they are no longer living in the same household. 
Let’s take a second to look at car insurance after a divorce in general before adding the element of a teen driver.
Depending on where you live, your car insurance company may be allowed to assess risk factors based on your marital status when setting your rates. Married drivers can be seen as more financially stable and responsible than single drivers, so divorced couples could see increases in their individual car insurance premiums.
Why this matters: Most insurance providers won’t weigh marital status too heavily when setting your rates, but splitting policies could mean you lose out on any
multi-car discounts
. On the other hand, you may pay a bit less for your new policy if your ex-spouse didn’t have the best driving record, or if you’re able to qualify for a low-mileage discount without the extra driver.
Insurance tip: Make sure to set up your new car insurance policies before canceling your current one so you can avoid an
insurance lapse
that would cause your rates to rise.
MORE: Does being married lower car insurance?

Who is responsible for making sure a teen driver has car insurance?

Once you have your own policies, one parent will have to
add the teen to their car insurance
as an active driver—this policy will include the teen driver’s premium. If you and your former spouse are splitting custody according to the divorce decree, then the teen will have to be listed as a non-driver or inactive driver on the other parent's policy.
Big picture: While only one parent will be responsible for maintaining the teenage driver’s policy, both parents are responsible for ensuring that their teen driver’s insurance needs are met. Unless you have sole custody, you’ll both be financially responsible if your teen is ever in an accident, so you’ll both need to do your part to make sure the teen has insurance coverage.
As part of the divorce agreement, you and your former spouse should talk about how you’re going to split the responsibility of
teen car insurance
. For example, will you be splitting the additional costs of the premium, or will this be covered by child support or alimony? 
Make it legal: These conversations are often best had with a divorce lawyer as you navigate the divorce settlement.
MORE: Can I keep my USAA insurance after a divorce?

Primary custody

A teen driver should be added as an active driver to the auto insurance policy of the parent with primary custody.
  • This keeps things nice and easy since the teen will typically have more access to this parent’s car
  • It also works out if your teen has their own car since this parent’s home will make more sense as a primary address for the policy
The other parent will still have to add their teen as an inactive driver to their policy if they have a car.
Both insurance companies will want to know that a teen has access to the vehicles, but only the primary policy will have a premium attached to the teen driver.

Joint custody

The easiest way to choose which parent will hold their teen driver’s policy in joint custody is to think logistically about where the teen is likely to do most of their driving.
For example, a parent who lives in the teen’s school district or who has a spare car that the teen can drive would typically be the better option to be the teen’s primary policyholder.

Sole custody

This one is pretty straightforward: If one parent has sole custody of the teen and the other parent is no longer in the picture, then the teen will be added to the remaining parent’s policy.
MORE: How to choose the best car for a teenager

How to find affordable teen car insurance

No matter which parent adds a teen to their policy, both parents will likely have to bear the brunt of expensive teen car insurance rates.
Young drivers between the age of 16 and 19 are three times more likely to get into a fatal accident, so adding a teen to your auto policy can cause your rates to increase by 44% or more.
If you and your ex-spouse are sharing these expenses, then you’ll both be looking for ways to lower that car insurance premium—turns out you had something in common after all!
Here are a few easy ways to save money on your teen driver’s auto insurance rates.

Adjust your policy

Raising your
car insurance deductible
will immediately lower your premiums—but that’s not the only option you have to make your policy work in your favor.
If you can resist that urge to buy your teen their own car, then you’ll be able to list them as an occasional or secondary driver on a vehicle that they share with you. This is much cheaper than insuring them as the primary driver on their own vehicle, but it’s only an option if there are more people in your household than there are cars.
You can also have your teen drive the oldest car in your household that doesn’t need additional
comprehensive coverage
. As long as the old car has some decent safety features, your insurance rate should be lower than it would be for a newer car with more value and coverage.

Ask about young driver discounts

Car insurance discounts
are a great way to lower your teen driver’s premium, and many providers offer discounts tailored specifically to young drivers.
Ask your insurance agent about the following discounts:
  • Good student discount
    : Full-time students below the age of 25 can get this discount from most providers if they maintain a B average or 3.0 GPA.
  • Student away at school discount: You may be able to save on your premium if your teen driver moves more than 100 miles away from home for school—as long as they don’t have their own car.
  • Driver training discount: Many insurance providers offer discounts to young drivers who complete a state-approved driver training course.
  • Affiliation discount: If your teen driver is in a sorority or fraternity at school, check if your insurance provider offers any discounts geared towards members of specific associations.

Compare car insurance quotes

It’s always a good idea to revisit your insurance policy when navigating a major life change. 
insurance quotes online
for you and your teen is an easy way to make sure you’re getting the best car insurance policy at the best price that works for you. If that seems like too much work, just enlist the help of an automated insurance comparison tool like the
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