Can I get my own car insurance at 17?

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Things to remember...
  • In order to buy auto insurance in your name at any age, you need to be the registered owner of the car
  • Some states allow dependent and independent drivers to own a car in their own name at 16 or 17
  • As long as you own your own car in your name and you’re licensed to drive your vehicle, you can buy your own insurance
  • If you buy insurance in your name at the age of 17, you’ll pay high-risk insurance rates because of your inexperience
  • If you live with your parents or with someone else who owns a car, combining your insurance may be cheaper

Teens frequently drive their parents’ cars until they are old enough to leave the home or buy a car of their own.

Unfortunately, when you use your parent’s car or they buy a car that’s designated for your use, it’s still technically not your own vehicle. Until you have a vehicle registered and insured in your name, you are not a vehicle owner.

If you’re 17 years old and you’re planning on buying your own car with your own money, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to buy insurance in your own name.

Whether or not you can get insurance depends on several factors, included the state and the carrier.

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Before you shop for insurance on your own, here’s a guide to help you:

You Must Own a Vehicle to Buy Standard Auto Insurance

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There are a few basic rules that all insurance companies follow when they are selling insurance to any driver in any marketplace:

An auto policy isn’t like a bank account or another type of financial product because it’s an indemnity contract. One of the conditions of entering into the indemnity contract is that you have to have what’s called in the industry an insurable interest in the property.

As long as you possess this insurable interest, you’re eligible to buy coverage on the car.

Insurable interest means that you own the vehicle or that the vehicle is financed or leased in your name.

Having an insurable interest is a must because the contract can’t protect someone from financial loss if they have nothing to lose when a car is involved in an accident.

It would be pointless to buy the product because there would never be a purpose to file a claim.

You Need to Know the State Law Before You Try to Buy Your Own Car

At the age of 17, everything can be complicated when it comes to property ownership laws. In most states, you have to be at least 18 before you can register any motor vehicle in your name as the legal owner.

There are states that do allow some teens who are 16 or 17 to own property. If you live in these states, it’s legal to own a car in your name as a minor.

If you’ve saved for years and years, you can afford to buy an older money outright without having to finance it. Unfortunately, a lot of teens want to finance a new car because they don’t have thousands of dollars on hand.

When this happens, you can get an auto loan, but you’ll have to have a parent as a co-signer because you won’t have any credit history.

When you finance a car, it’s important to put at least 20 percent of the purchase price down. Look at the terms closely and be sure that you can afford to make your payments as agreed upon with your adult cosigner.

Since the loan is in both names, it’s likely that your registration will be in both your name and your co-signer’s name as well.

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What happens if you’re emancipated and you’re no longer a dependent?

As a 17-year-old minor, you can’t legally enter a contract to buy a car without your parent or guardian signing off on the transaction. If an adult doesn’t witness it and sign off, the transaction isn’t legally binding.

Everything changes when you’re a minor who is emancipated.

When you’re emancipated, it basically means that you’re legally separating yourself from your parents so that you don’t have to be in their custody.

It also means that you will gain the right to start handling your own affairs.

You can do any of the following:

  • Live on your own
  • Keep your own paychecks
  • Stay out past curfew
  • Sue someone in your name
  • Own property in your name

At 17, getting emancipated might sound like the best option if you have a strained relationship with your parents.

What you might not know is that you can no longer get support from your parents and you can be held liable for injuries that you cause to owners as soon as you’re emancipated.

Since you’re liable for these types of damages, you can also buy a car in your name and then buy insurance in your own name.

If you’re emancipated, can you automatically get your license?

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Being emancipated does grant you the right to enter into contracts or buy property, but it doesn’t grant you the right to automatically get your driver’s license.

Just like other teens who don’t have driving experience, you have to satisfy all of the requirements before you’re issued an unrestricted driver’s license.

If you’re only 15 or 16, you may have to complete driver’s training classes before you can even get qualified to sit for your practical or written licensing exam. If you’re 17, you may be old enough to skip the driver’s ed requirements in some states.

You’ll have to familiarize yourself with the laws in your state to see what you need to do.

Where can you buy insurance if you own a car and you have your license?

Every insurance company has its own underwriting guidelines. While these guidelines can’t be discriminatory in nature, they can make people ineligible for coverage if they don’t fit into a certain demographic of customer.

Your job as a 17-year-old who needs their own coverage is to shop around to find the right carrier with lenient criteria.

The best place to look for coverage when you’re 17 and you meet the basic contract requirements is to call a substandard insurer. These insurers have more lenient rules and insure high-risk drivers who are statistically more likely to have an accident and file a claim.

Usually, the high-risk insurers will take on younger drivers with acceptable records.

How much will you pay to get your own car insurance at 17?

Buying car insurance when you’re in your teens will cost you a pretty penny. In fact, teens who are 16 and 17 pay the highest rates because of the accident statistics is the age group.

A male who is 17 will always pay more than his female counterpart with the same record and rating factors. It’s estimated that a safe driver who’s 17 will pay between $350 and $500 per month for coverage.

If you still live with your parents or you’re away at school as a dependent student, it’s a good idea to stay on your parent’s policy for as long as it’s an option. When you add yourself and your car as a driver, you’ll pay a discounted premium.

Here are a few reasons why the premiums are lower:

  • Your parents will have an established relationship with the carrier and will receive loyalty discounts off of your premiums
  • You can assign yourself as a driver to the cheapest vehicle on the policy
  • You will get a multi-car discount
  • You will get a multi-policy discount
  • You will receive premiums for your parents’ credit ranking and not your own

How to Keep Your Own Premiums Low

If combining your insurance with your parents or an older sibling isn’t an option, there are a few ways to keep your premiums low on your own. Here are some tips:

  • Choose higher deductibles
  • Take driver training to get a discount
  • Get good grade discount if you’re still a student
  • Try to keep your mileage down for a lower rating

The best way to get the most affordable premium on your own is to shop around. You should get instant quotes online to compare rates. After doing your comparison, you can branch out and buy your insurance.

Compare rates right now by entering your zip code in our free rate tool below.

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