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School's out for summer

Now is a good time to check your policy to ensure you're getting available discounts for your teen driver.

Summertime is no vacation for parents of teen drivers. With high school and college on summer break, more young drivers will be out on the roads. Some will be commuting to summer jobs while others are driving around town with friends. Here's a sobering thought: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says car crashes are the leading cause of death for 16–19 year olds. Obviously, keeping teens safe behind the wheel is a parent's top priority, and AAA has tools to help with this. But practically speaking, because teens statistically are involved in more accidents than adults, it costs more to insure them. In fact, adding a teen driver to your policy may increase your premium up to 40 percent, according to an insurance study.

It's important you know all the discounts available to you as you insure your teen. Here are a few tips to consider if you've got a teen driver in the family.

Add your child to your current policy. It's usually cheaper than buying your teen an individual policy. This way, your additional driver can take advantage of all your discounts, such as multiple-vehicle and multiple-policy breaks.

Insist your teen driver attend a defensive driving school. This not only has the potential to save your child's life – the most important reason to take a course – but it could lower your insurance premium. Present a certificate of completion from a public or private driving school to receive the discount.

Tell your insurer if your teen goes away to college this fall. If your child (age 25 and younger) attends college more than 100 miles from home and doesn't take a car, you can get a break on your premiums but still have coverage when he or she comes home to visit.

Pick the right car for your teen to drive. Most parents prudently will say no to a teen's request for a sports car or SUV, which can be prone to rolling over. Instead, look for a car with as many safety features as you can afford, such as anti-lock brakes, advanced air bags, and electronic stability control.

AAA's Automotive Research Center in southern California recommends a midsized sedan or crossover with a 4-cylinder engine, automatic transmission, and high crash-test scores. A midsize vehicle with automatic transmission is big enough to protect occupants in a crash while being easy for a new driver to handle. A 4-cylinder engine can temper a teen's desire for speed while also providing good fuel economy – something else a parent thinks about. A complete list of recommended cars for teens can be found through Just go to the “automotive” tab on the site and look for the Automotive Research Center link under the “maintain vehicles” section. Crash-test scores come from the NHTSA and can be found online at

For a list of resources to help you keep your teen safer behind the wheel, look for “teen programs” at the “automotive” tab at

Deborah Reinhardt is managing editor of AAA Southern Traveler.

Your AAA insurance agent can provide more information about auto insurance coverage. Call (888) 222-2582, stop in at a AAA branch office, or click on

May/June 2016 Issue

ask an agent

Q: What constitutes a “good student” in order to tap into a discount for my teen driver?


A: A full-time high school, college, or university student who either ranks scholastically in the upper 20 percent of their class, has a B average or its equivalent, has 3.0 grade-point average or its equivalent, or is on a dean's list/honor roll will qualify for a discount. Parents should produce a report card or evidence of the child's ranking or inclusion on an honor roll/dean's list on school letterhead to obtain the discount. Remember to do this each year your child makes good grades or the discount will be removed.

– Dayna Bowman
AAA Sales Agent
Baton Rouge, La.

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