How Car Insurance Works When Your Child Leaves for College

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Sending your teen to college can be one of the most emotional times in a parent’s life. With so many things happening at once, car insurance and what this important milestone can mean for your policy may not be top of mind.

Insuring young drivers can be expensive, but depending on your situation and needs, you might be able to make changes to your policy and save some money in the process. Here’s what to consider when your college student goes away to school, including when it’s worth dropping them from your policy and how to find the cheapest auto coverage for your situation.

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What to Consider When Your Student Goes to College

Ensuring your college student has coverage when they drive, whether at school or home, is crucial. How, where, and when your student goes to college can determine which changes, if any, to make to your auto insurance policy.

Let’s take a closer look at four of the most important insurance-related factors to consider when sending your college student off to school.

Premium costs

If you keep your college student on your car insurance policy, your premium likely won’t change. But if you remove them as a driver on your policy, your premium could go down since teens and young drivers tend to be substantially more expensive to insure.

If they’ll have a car at school

When your teen takes a car to school, you’ll still need to maintain your state’s minimum coverage requirements on the vehicle — even if they only drive the car home during breaks and holidays. The requirements can vary by state, so if they’re going to school in another state, make sure your policy meets that state’s requirements, too.

How often they’ll be home

Although you might be able to remove your college-aged driver from your policy if they don’t take a car with them, it might not be worth it if they come home often and plan to drive while they’re home. In that case, keeping them on your policy probably makes more sense than adding and removing them each time they go back to school.

Available discounts

If your young driver was eligible for car insurance discounts such as good student, multi-car, and student away at school discounts, dropping them from your policy can mean you’ll lose those savings. In this case, removing them as a driver might not save you much money in the long run.

When to Keep Your Student on Your Policy

Although your student may be a young adult, there are some scenarios where keeping them on your policy makes sense. For example, keeping them on your policy is best if they plan to live at home and commute to school using a family vehicle. The same goes for if they take one of your cars to school.

While insurance rates are more expensive for young drivers, you can still save on your policy. If they’re eligible for student-specific discounts, like the good student discount or a school affiliation discount, it might help lower your premium.

Keeping them on your policy can also show continuous auto insurance history, which can help them get a lower rate when they get their own policy.

When to Take Your Student off Your Policy

You can keep your kid on your policy as long as they live at home. But you should consider taking them off your policy for several reasons, including if they register a car in their own name or have insurance under someone else.

If they aren’t taking a vehicle with them to college, you can remove them from your policy. Keep in mind that when you remove your kid from your policy, they aren’t covered if they drive your car.

It’s a good idea to check with your auto insurance company before removing them. Many car insurance companies won’t let you remove or exclude a young driver if the address on their driver’s license still matches yours.

When They Should Get Their Own Policy

College kids with a car in their name should typically get their own car insurance policy. Although this is usually the most expensive option, it can be cheaper if they attend college in a state with lower rates than their home state.

If one parent is on the title or the car is garaged at your house, they might be able to stay on the your policy. Discussing your options with your insurance agent can help determine when your child should get their own auto insurance policy or if it makes more sense to stay on yours.

Alternatives to Dropping Coverage

Keeping the same coverage and dropping your college-aged child from your policy aren’t the only options. Here are a few alternatives to consider.

Adjusting your policy

Since your child is going away to school, you can change them from a “primary driver” in the household to an “occasional driver.” Making the switch can lower your premiums, and they’ll still be covered when they come home and drive.

This might also be a good time to change your car insurance coverage. You can lower your liability limits or consider removing comprehensive or collision coverage if you store their car while they’re at school. Keep in mind that comprehensive or collision insurance is typically required if you lease or finance the car.

Usage-based insurance

If your college student doesn’t drive much, usage-based insurance might be worth considering. Insurers base rates on how you drive, how often you drive, plus other factors, like speeding, braking, cornering, phone usage, and late-night driving. If your teen practices safe driving habits, your insurance rates should decrease.

Student-away-at-school discount

If your college student isn’t taking a car with them and their school is at least 100 miles from your home address, they’re likely eligible for a student-away-at-school discount. Adding this to your auto policy can help lower your car insurance rates significantly, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I).

Many of the best car insurance companies offer the student-away-at-school discount, including:

How to Get Cheaper Insurance While Your Student Is Away

Although part-time and full-time college students can be expensive to insure, there are still ways to get the best deal on auto insurance. Use these tips to save while your student is away at college:

  • Take advantage of car insurance discounts. Your teen may be eligible for various discounts, like getting good grades or completing a driver’s safety program.
  • Consider pay-per-mile insurance. If they don’t plan to drive often, you might get cheaper rates with pay-per-mile insurance.
  • Increase deductibles. If you can’t remove collision or comprehensive coverage, consider raising your deductibles instead, which will lower your premiums.
  • Stay on the parents’ car insurance policy. Staying on your policy is usually the cheapest option until your child moves out or gets their own vehicle.
  • Shop around. Comparing car insurance quotes can help you get the best deal on auto insurance coverage.

Get Cheaper Auto Insurance for College Students

Car Insurance for College Students FAQs

If your kid is going away to college, knowing how it can affect your car insurance policy can help you make the right decision based on your specific situation. We answered common questions about auto insurance for college students.

Do you need to tell your insurance company if a student keeps a car at college?

It’s a good idea to tell your insurance company if your child takes a car to college. Although it usually won’t affect your premium, telling your insurer can make the claims process easier if they get into an accident at school or while driving back home for holidays.

Do car insurance premiums go down when your child goes to college?

It depends. Car insurance premiums can go down if they drive only occasionally. But if your child takes a car with them, your rates may not change. Discuss your options with your auto insurance company to determine how going off to college will affect your rates.

Can you be on your parents’ car insurance if you don’t live with them?

Yes. You can remain on your parents’ auto insurance if you don’t live with them since there’s no age limit on how long you can stay on your parents’ insurance. But the address on your driver’s license and vehicle registration must match your parents’.

What’s the cheapest car insurance company for college students?

Many factors influence auto insurance costs, such as age, driving history, ZIP code, vehicle make and model, and coverage choices. Since there’s no one best insurer for every driver, comparing insurance quotes from the cheapest car insurance companies can help you find the lowest rate.


  1. Insurance Information Institute, “Students,” Accessed March 2, 2024.

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