Having a teenager behind the steering wheel is a scary thought for many parents, but there is no way around. And while a 17-year-old can begin training to get a driver’s licence, there are many money and car-responsibility issues that you must discuss with your teenager before letting him or her in the driver’s seat.
Families are different, but getting a car can be an opportunity for your teenager to learn about long-term responsibility and how to manage money effectively, so make sure you discuss the following costs involved in driving a car.
Tip: Regardless of your financial status, let your son or daughter have a stake in keeping this car running and being responsible for any damage or repair. It is one way to bring reason into the process.
Driving lessons and permits
Along the process of obtaining a driver’s licence, there will be many costs, charges and fees. For a teenager with limited finances, these costs can be prohibitive or overwhelming. Think of how these charges will be paid and who is responsible for them. If you decide to shoulder all the expenses related to getting a licence, make sure that your teenage is aware of the costs, taking the lessons seriously and participating in the financial side of this process. You may discuss upfront
Buying or sharing a car
Driving is a privilege for everyone. And when it comes to teenagers, this privilege must be fully explained. Set a budget for buying a car, and if your teenager is able to come up with some money from summer work or otherwise, compel him or her to pay part of the price. Having skin in the game is likely to keep them more responsible.
If you are a sharing a family car with the new driver, be clear about the boundaries of this sharing as well as the responsibilities of each driver.
Car gas and maintenance
Costs of driving don’t end at getting a car. Gas and regular maintenance costs often fall beyond many teenagers’ means. Are you willing to pay for these? To what extent? If the car replaces your child’s transportation costs to school, university or activities, it may your responsibility to cover the costs of running this car. But will you pay for non-essential driving? This is something to discuss with your young driver. And you also should come up with a way to track costs and expenses.
Insurance and damages
Insurance for a new driver is more expensive. But you certainly will have to add your teenager to your car insurance policy before he or she takes the wheel. You can get an estimate of how much this would increase your insurance cost, and decide who will pay for it. You also can ask your insurance agent about what the insurer is taking into consideration. For example, in the United States, some insurance companies consider your teenager’s school performance as an indicator of being responsible or not. By doing so, you might be able to reduce your costs by meeting a higher standard.
In all cases, make sure that you have a reasonable deductible on the car that your teenager will drive. This will allow you to require your new driver to be responsible for paying the deductible in case he or she gets in an accident — and being at fault.
If the repairs don’t warrant filing an insurance claim, make sure your teenager is paying at least part of the costs, especially if he or she was at fault.
Key points: Driven to learn
- Discuss costs of getting a driver’s licence
- Plan for buying or sharing a car
- Discuss gas, repairs and insurance costs
- Please for sharing costs of damages and repairs
The writer, a former Gulf News Business Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.