Teenager’s Guide to Auto Insurance What you need to know about your responsibilities as a new driver When can I get a license? You can get a temporary permit at age 15 1/2 . The permit allows you to drive as long as you have a licensed driver age 21 or older in the front passenger seat. You must carry your permit and an identification (ID) card while driving. You must complete driver education, any other required training and pass the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle tests. Then you can be eligible for a probationary license, which is valid until you turn 18. Why do I need automobile insurance? To drive legally in Ohio, you must comply with a state law called “Financial Responsibility” or “FR” for short. This law requires each Ohio driver to demonstrate an ability to pay for injuries to other people or damages to other people’s property if the driver causes an accident. Most Ohio drivers comply with the FR law by purchasing auto insurance. Types of coverage under auto insurance are described below. • Liability insurance pays claims if you hurt someone else or damage another’s property. • Uninsured motorists (UM) coverage pays claims for your injuries and damage to your car if a driver without insurance hits you. • Collision coverage (if you buy it) pays you if your own car is damaged. • Medical expense coverage (if you buy it) pays medical expenses for you and your passengers. What if I don’t have insurance? If you don’t have auto insurance (or other FR proof), you could end up spending a lot more than the insurance would have cost! Anytime you are stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation or other reason, the officer will ask you for FR proof. When you buy insurance, the company will send you a card as proof that you are insured. Keep the card in your car so you can show it to a police officer when requested. If you cannot prove financial responsibility... • Your license will be suspended, • Your car will be impounded and • It will cost you a very large sum of money to regain your driving privileges. How are rates determined? Your rate (called a “premium”) is based on many factors, including the list below. • Your driving record • Your sex • Your age • Where you live • Age & type of your vehicle (if you buy comprehensive & collision coverage) Why is my premium so expensive when I’ve never had an accident? Insurance rates are based on statistical groups. As a group, teen drivers have a much higher accident rate than other drivers. Consider these recent statistics: • About 7% of all Ohio drivers are people in their teens. • Teenage drivers have approximately 17% of all Ohio crashes. • About 5% of U.S. drivers are people in their teens. • Teen drivers have approximately 15% of all U.S. crashes. Can the company raise my premium if I have an accident or ticket? No. Your insurance company cannot charge you an additional premium for a single accident that was not your fault or for a single traffic ticket. But the company likely has the right to increase your premium if you have a second, not-at-fault accident within a policy period. How can I lower my premium? Here are several common sense tips that can help keep your auto insurance premium in check. • Don’t get tickets or have accidents. • Don’t drive a sports car. • Maintain good grades — most companies offer a “good student discount.” • If you want to buy comprehensive and collision coverage, talk to your agent or company about a high deductible. A deductible is the amount you must pay out of your own pocket if you have a claim. How long will my policy last? A company can cancel for almost any reason in the first 89 days of your coverage. As of the 90th day, a company cannot cancel your liability coverage for at least two years. At the end of each two-year period, the policy is up for renewal. ! However, the company can give you 30-day notice that it is cancelling your policy at any time if you: • Lie on your application, or • Have your license suspended or • File a false claim. What if I forget to pay my premium? If — for any reason — you do not pay your premium, the company will cancel the policy. The company must notify you 10 days before cancellation for such nonpayment. Getting coverage from another company may be difficult and probably will cost more if you let a policy lapse. Will my insurance cover a friend that I let drive my car? Maybe. Unless your policy states specifically that only you are covered when driving, other people will be covered as long as you give them your permission to drive your car. Can I get more information? Yes. You can get the Ohio Shopper’s Guide to Automobile Insurance and a pamphlet on Ohio’s FR law from the Department of Insurance. You can also read and print any of the Department’s consumer publications while at this web site. For specific information about your policy, talk to your agent or the company. What if I have a problem with the insurance agent or the company? The Ohio Department of Insurance regulates agents and companies that are licensed to sell insurance in Ohio. The Department’s Consumer Services Division can answer your insurance questions and investigate your written complaints about an insurance company or agent. If you have a question, or you feel a company or its agent has done something wrong, call Consumer Services. An expert in automobile insurance will assist you. ! Call toll-free: 1-800-686-1526. This information prepared and produced by the Office of Consumer Services at the Ohio Department of Insurance.
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