How to Find the Best Car Insurance for College Students

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Updated April 4, 2022

Car insurance for college students: couple in their car

College students face many big challenges, like living in a new area, finding a job, and studying for classes. On top of all that, it can be a real pain trying to balance out your finances like living costs, gas money, and car insurance.

None of these are easy tasks, but we can help with at least one of them. We’ve created this guide to finding the best car insurance for college students so you can focus your attention on other tasks (and have some extra money in your pocket too).

Here’s everything you need to know about the typical cost of car insurance for college students, and whether you can get any discounts on your insurance rates.

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Factors That Impact Car Insurance for College Students

Buying affordable car insurance may not be the first thing on your mind when heading off to college, but it can make a big difference to your budget. Insurance rates can vary depending on where you live, how often you drive, and whether you remain on your parents’ car insurance policy or get your own policy.

It’s worth taking time to compare quotes from a few different car insurance companies. Here are a few factors that can impact your auto insurance rates.

Who Owns the Car

If you drive your parents’ car and plan to stay on your parent’s car insurance policy while you’re in college, make sure you’re listed as a driver. If not, you may not be covered in the event of an accident.

On the other hand, if you don’t take the car to college, your parents can update the policy to reflect how often the vehicle is being driven and how far. Many insurance companies refer to this as a distant student discount and require that the college student attends school at least 100 miles away from home.

Where You Live

If you’re bringing your car with you, make sure your insurance policy reflects where you live and where you park the vehicle. Even if you don’t think of your college apartment or dorm as your permanent address, treat it as your official address for now.

Your address is a variable that car insurance companies use to price their policies. Plus, having it updated makes submitting claims more efficient. You can follow this change of address checklist to make sure that all of your accounts are up-to-date.

Your Grades

College is a great time to take advantage of car insurance discounts available to student drivers — but you’ll need to have good grades first! Many car insurance providers require you to be a full-time student and maintain a B average or equivalent GPA.

You don’t have to wait until you head off to college to get a good student discount. Teen drivers who are still in high school may be eligible too.

Your Driving Record

Finally, your car insurance company will take your driving history into account, including any speeding tickets or other moving violations. If you’re a new driver or don’t have a clean driving record, you may not qualify for a safe driver discount.

Fortunately, some insurers may offer a good driver discount to young drivers who take a driver education course or use a mobile app to track their safe driving habits.

If you don’t plan to drive often, you may save money with a usage-based car insurance plan such as Metromile’s pay-per-mile car insurance.

Enter your ZIP code here to see what options are available where you live:

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What Type of College Student Car Insurance Do You Need?

College graduate in her car

Before we compare the best car insurance companies, it’s worth pointing out that the cheapest car insurance for college students isn’t always the best. After all, the point of car insurance coverage is to cover you if you get into an accident — and young drivers are more likely to get into an accident than experienced drivers.

That’s why it’s so important to compare car insurance quotes and see what each one covers. Depending on your driving habits, you may decide that it’s worth paying a bit more for more comprehensive coverage.

Here are a few coverage options for college students to consider:

Liability Coverage

Colleges are densely populated with inexperienced, new drivers, so accidents are more likely to happen. Check your policy limits for each type of liability coverage — including property damage liability, bodily injury liability, and uninsured motorist coverage — to ensure that you have the appropriate coverage if an accident occurs.

Comprehensive Coverage

Theft of vehicles and personal items from within vehicles is more common on and near college campuses. Avoid leaving valuables in vehicles parked around campus. And, of course, always lock your vehicle.

Additionally, some areas may be at higher risk of natural disasters such as earthquakes or flooding. You’ll need comprehensive coverage if you want your car to be replaced in the event of theft or natural disaster.

Car Insurance Deductibles

A deductible is what you have to pay out of pocket when you file a claim, for example, $500. After you pay the deductible, your insurance company starts covering the costs of the repair. Choosing a policy with a high deductible is an easy way to lower your car insurance premiums (aka monthly payments) — but you’ll have to pay more out of pocket if you get into an accident. Some higher deductibles are around $2,500.

Finding the best cheap car insurance for college students usually means striking a balance between a low monthly premium and a low deductible.

Extra Coverage Options

Not every situation is covered by the average car insurance policy. For example, more and more college students are turning to rideshare services to make some extra money after class or on the weekend. You may not be covered for this automatically, so you’ll want to add rideshare coverage to your policy if this is the case.

Likewise, if your college is a long distance from home, it may be worth choosing a policy with roadside assistance for peace of mind when you drive home for the holidays.

What About Car Insurance After You Graduate?

Maintaining a good car insurance policy doesn’t end after graduation. In fact, you may end up with more decisions to make depending on what you do after you graduate.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind during and after college.

Maintain Car Insurance If You Study Abroad

It might be tempting to put your car insurance on hold if you travel abroad for a year or move to a city where owning a car isn’t necessary. But that could result in a steep price increase when you resume your insurance. Insurance providers tend to treat a gap in coverage as an opportunity to switch you to high-risk car insurance.

A better option? Consider purchasing non-owner car insurance, which is usually much lower than full coverage car insurance, but allows you to maintain continuous coverage and borrow a friend or family member’s vehicle without having to worry.

Keep an Eye on Your Credit Score

In most states, insurers can use your credit score to set your insurance rates, so paying off your credit cards will help you to maintain your current insurance price. On the other hand, falling behind on payments can hurt your credit score and your insurance carrier might choose not to renew your policy when your policy expires.

Only a handful of states, such as California, have restrictions on this practice. Be sure to keep your score up by paying bills on time and paying overdue debts, and check your credit report every once in a while to make sure it’s accurate.

Check for Better Rates Often

If you transfer to a new school or take a job in a different city, take the opportunity to look for a better deal. Insurance rates can vary from state to state, and even from one city to the next. Some insurers, such as GEICO, may offer discounts for members of certain fraternities, sororities, and honor societies.

If your situation changes, call up your existing insurance provider to see if they can offer you a new rate, or use our comparison tool to look for a better offer elsewhere.

Get the Best College Student Car Insurance Rate

Car insurance for college students: father handing a car key to his daughter

The best car insurance for college students won’t be the same for everyone, because every driver is different. Most insurers offer different rates depending on whether you get your own insurance policy or stay on your parents’ plan.

However, there is a simple solution: shop around. Do your homework and get multiple insurance quotes, and you may be surprised at the range of offers available.

We can help you expedite your search for college student car insurance with a single form that will give you multiple quotes at once. You can compare prices side by side, lock in your best rate, buy, and be done.

Enter your ZIP code here to find the best rates on car insurance for college students:

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