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Giving the Keys to Your Texas Teen? Do this first…

February 10 2022
father standing with teenage son in front of car

It took months of practice and perhaps a few scary moments along the way, but it finally happened! Your teen passed the driving test and now has their first Texas driver’s license. Meanwhile, you’ve been looking around everywhere for affordable car insurance for teenage drivers in Dallas and Fort Worth. 

So, now it’s time to hand over the keys and see how they do on the High Five Interchange, right? Not exactly. Before your teen gets behind the wheel for the first time driving, take some time to do some prep work and have important conversations with your teen. Not only will you be keeping your teen safer, but you’ll be saving money on car insurance for your teen as well. 

Here are four things you should do before handing the keys to your teen. 

4 Things to Do Before Handing the Keys to Your Teen Driver in Texas 

1. Find Affordable Car Insurance in Dallas, TX for Teenage Drivers 

Let’s face it: teenagers are unpredictable, and that’s one reason why it’s so challenging to find affordable car insurance for teenage drivers. Insurance companies take into account age and gender when calculating your teen’s insurance premium. All teenagers are seen as riskier drivers than adults, while male teenagers are riskier than females. The riskier the driver, the higher the insurance premium. 

That said, there are a few ways to keep insurance costs down for your teen driver. First, it’s important to shop around for insurance quotes from different companies to make sure you’re really getting the best deal. You may even find that switching insurance companies can save you money on your car insurance, too. 

Secondly, talk to your insurance company about special premium discounts for teens. Here are some common car insurance discounts to help you get the most affordable car insurance for teenage drivers in Texas: 

Have Good Grades 

Most insurance companies offer special discounts for teens with a high GPA or test scores. As long as your teen keeps up the good work, their insurance will be less expensive. 

Get a Starter Car 

It’s tempting to get your teen the best car you can afford, but that can mean much higher insurance premiums. Instead, get an inexpensive “starter car” that’ll be much cheaper to insure. 

You can always put the extra money toward college, a special trip, or something else that your teen would really appreciate. 

Take a Safety Course 

Teens who take a defensive driving or other approved safety course can look forward to lower insurance premiums. In fact, you may even want to take a course with your teen since adults can also benefit from this car insurance discount. 

Keep the Car Home 

Keep in mind that your car insurance premium is partly based on where you keep your car. Drivers who keep their vehicles in a garage and in a low-crime neighborhood can save the most on their car insurance. But when your teen takes their car with them to college, they may face a sudden increase in their car insurance premium, especially if they’re out of state or park on the street. 

Before deciding on whether your teen should bring their car to school, talk to your car insurance company so that you both understand how your decision will affect your teen’s car insurance premiums. 

Whatever you decide, be honest about where your teen keeps their car. Remember that if you’re caught lying to your car insurance company about any information you give them, they can refuse to cover a claim. They may even cancel your car insurance policy altogether. 

Use a Telematics App 

Telematics is a way for car insurance companies to measure how you drive. Before, insurance companies would send drivers a special device to keep in their cars. Today, apps use your smartphone’s built-in sensors to detect driving speed, sudden braking, and other driving habits. 

Since most teens already have smartphones, telematics is a great way to save on car insurance for teenage drivers without having to do a lot of extra work. Just remember that your teen will need to drive safely to keep the discount. 

2. Update Your Own Car Insurance to Include Your Texas Teen 

If your teen driver doesn’t yet have their own car, there’s good news about car insurance. You don’t have to worry about finding affordable car insurance for teenage drivers. Instead, your teen will automatically be included as part of your Texas auto insurance policy as long as they live with you. And since Texas banned named driver auto insurance policies in 2020, you don’t even need to do anything special — your Texas auto insurance covers anyone in your household who drives your car, including spouses, children, siblings, and even roommates. 

This is great news, but there’s a catch. Having your teen drive under your insurance policy may mean that your current coverage may not be enough. Why? Because teens are more likely to be involved in collisions and other accidents that can cause injury and property damage. Even a routine trip to the supermarket can be a stressful adventure for inexperienced drivers. 

Before handing the keys to your teen, take a moment to review your current auto insurance policy. Is your coverage limited to the bare minimum of state-required or liability insurance? If so, consider increasing your policy limits, especially for collision and added liability insurance coverage. Collision auto insurance will help cover the repair costs to your car if your teen is at fault in an accident. Extra liability coverage can also help protect anyone injured in an accident caused by your teen driver. 

Finally, think about increasing your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This is a special type of insurance that covers your medical bills if you’re at fault for an accident — remember that regular auto liability insurance only covers medical bills for other drivers and passengers. By law, Texas auto insurance companies must offer at least $2,500 in PIP coverage, though it’s possible to increase coverage to $5,000 or even $10,000. PIP coverage can help keep your teen driver safe and their medical bills covered, even when they’re at fault for a serious car accident. 

3. Talk to Your Teen About Distracted Driving 

Every year, close to 3,000 people die due to distracted drivers, and hundreds of thousands more are injured. What counts as distracted driving? Here are just a few examples: 

  • Texting while driving 
  • Using a phone or other handheld device, including in hands-free mode 
  • Distractions from loud music or passengers in the car 
  • Anything that can prevent your teen driver from focusing 100% on the road 

In Texas, it’s illegal for any driver to text or email while driving or use a cell phone while driving through a school zone. Teen drivers face additional restrictions. For example, drivers under 18 cannot use any sort of wireless communication device while driving, even in hands-free mode. Teens caught driving while distracted can face fines that increase with each violation. 

Keep in mind that your teen can still be at fault for an accident, even for legal activities. For example, if your 19-year-old is involved in an accident while on a hands-free phone call, they may be found liable due to distracted driving. This means that you and your teen won’t be able to make a claim against the other driver’s liability insurance and potentially could face paying for all your repairs and injuries out of pocket. 

4. Have a Serious Discussion About Drunk Driving 

It’s a sad fact that Texas ranks as the fourth worst state for drunk driving. And among Texas driving fatalities for people under 21, over a third involved drunk driving. Since even major Texas cities like Dallas have limited public transit options, it’s all too tempting for teens to get behind the wheel after a few drinks. 

Keep in mind that Texas has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. It’s illegal for Texas teens to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in their systems. If your teen is pulled over and tests for any amount of alcohol, they face serious penalties, including: 

  • Fines up to $500 
  • License suspension up to two months 
  • Mandatory community service up to 40 hours 
  • Mandatory alcohol awareness classes 

Teens caught driving with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher — the legal limit for adults — face even more severe penalties that include: 

  • Fines up $2,000 
  • Jail time up to six months 
  • Driver license suspension up to a year 

These are all just first-time penalties. The more your teen is caught drinking and driving, the harsher the penalties. And chances are that your teen will need to file an SR-22 certificate of financial responsibility if they want to get their license back. 

For teens, even a single beer can lead to years of bad consequences and a black mark on their driving record. Before they take the keys, talk to your teen about the risks of driving after any alcohol consumption and let them know that they can rely on you to pick them up anytime, anywhere — no judgment, no questions asked. 

Given how hard your teen worked to get their drivers license in the first place, the last thing they’ll want is to lose their driving privileges. 

parent teaching teenager to drive

Help Your Teen Succeed as a New Driver 

Driving for the first time is a huge milestone for Texas teens and parents alike. But as everyone knows, driving can be challenging and even dangerous. While parents can’t be with their children every minute of the day, they can set their teens up for success by having serious conversations and outlining expectations.  

Dallas parents turn to Baja Auto Insurance to protect their teens with cheap auto insurance that covers the most unexpected events. All it takes is a few minutes to get an online quote for teen auto insurance. Or you can visit one of our offices in person or give us a call at (800) 401 6870