Insurance lessons for young student drivers

Schoolchildren taking part in drivers’ education programs are learning about an aspect of car ownership that does not involve three-point turns or reverse parking – car insurance.

Local insurance company Saxon has been involved in getting insurance knowledge integrated in the drivers’ education program at John Gray and Clifton Hunter high schools.

According to Saxon, while for most young people, learning to drive, owning a car and getting on the road are eagerly anticipated rites of passage to adulthood and independence, for parents they present moments of anxiety.

Saxon general manager Ken Osborne finds there are many misconceptions on the part of parents and adolescents about insurance options available to young drivers, the cost of insuring them and the kind of vehicles that insurers are willing to underwrite.

“For this reason, we have been increasing public education around this issue, starting with young drivers themselves, so that when they go in to their insurance companies they know what to expect,” he said.

At a recent drivers’ education class at John Gray High School, Mr. Osborne discussed with students the legal requirement of having motor insurance before operating a vehicle, the differences between comprehensive and third-party insurance and what happens in the event of a claim.

“Young aspiring drivers were fascinated to learn that some cars that they often favor, such as the Honda Civic, are the very ones that insurers will avoid underwriting, due to the higher risks associated with modifying such vehicles. Students also learned that as young drivers, they are likely to pay up to twice as much as their parents for insurance,” he said.

Carlene Hyatt, John Gray life skills coordinator, welcomed Mr. Osborne’s presentation, noting that it helped to provide students with a better perspective of the responsibility of being a driver. “I was pleased to see the enthusiasm with which the students embraced the presentation, and it was clear from the many questions they asked about insurance that this is a subject area in which they are keenly interested,” Ms Hyatt said.

Mr. Osborne said the drivers education program is having an impact on young people.

“The young people I have so far interviewed for motor vehicle insurance speak glowingly of the program,” he said. “One young lady spoke passionately about how the program had awakened in her a new sense of responsibility that comes with the privilege of driving and spoke of her heightened awareness of the dangers of bad habits, such as drinking, drugs and the use of mobile devices while driving,”

Saxon, with the Department of Vehicle and Drivers Licensing, has been conducting the program in high schools since 2011.