The Best & Cheapest Car Insurance for College Students

by Quiana Darden Updated October 5th, 2021

If you’re insuring a car for a college student this fall, you likely realize it isn’t an easy task. Due to their age, student drivers can pay substantially more than drivers 26 and up. Many parents opt for less coverage to balance out the high premiums, but is this the best choice? What other options do college students have for car insurance to ensure they get off to a good start without sacrificing coverage?

We’ve put together the ultimate guide of the best and cheapest car insurance for college students. You’ll also find additional ways to save on car insurance and learn when a college student should strike out with a separate policy.

Cheapest Car Insurance for College Students

College students looking to find the cheapest car insurance before striking out on their own certainly have their work cut out for them. Before making a final decision, you’ll need to do your homework (get it?) on dozens of car insurance companies to find the best rate for you.

Car insurance rates can vary widely depending on the company, so take your time and compare quotes to find the company that is best suited for you. Car insurance for college students is never cheap. Drivers between the ages of 16 and 25 pay more than any other age group for car insurance. But don’t get discouraged! Completing a thorough search for car insurance can help you get the right policy. 

When looking at quotes, think about your driving record. Is it squeaky clean? Or have you had a few violations in your high school heydays? Car insurance companies use your driving record as a rating factor when determining rates, so hopefully, you won’t run into any issues here.

College students looking for car insurance options typically fall into two categories: those planning to live on campus/away from home and those planning to stay at home. 

If you plan to live away from home, you must buy your own policy. But, if you live with your parents and commute to school, the cheapest car insurance option you have is to remain on their policy. 

Cheapest Car Insurance for 18-Year-Old College Students

The following car insurance companies offer the cheapest car insurance for 18-year old college students:

  1. Gainsco – $145/mo
  2. MetroMile – $155/mo
  3. Commonwealth Casualty – $155/mo
  4. Dairyland – $165/mo
  5. SafeAuto – $166/mo

Cheapest Car Insurance for 19-Year-Old College Students

The following car insurance companies offer the cheapest car insurance for 19-year old college students:

  1. Mercury – $102/mo
  2. Clearcover – $117/mo
  3. Commonwealth Casualty – $131/mo
  4. Gainsco – $135/mo
  5. SafeAuto – $142/mo

Cheapest Car Insurance for 20-Year-Old College Students

These are the cheapest car insurance rates for 20- year old college students:

  1. Mercury – $101/mo
  2. Commonwealth Casualty – $103/mo
  3. Clearcover – $113/mo 
  4. Gainsco – $122/mo
  5. Dairyland – $123/mo

Cheapest Car Insurance for 21-Year-Old College Students

The following are the cheapest car insurance rates for 21- year old college students: 

  1. Clearcover – $84/mo
  2. Commonwealth Casualty – $86/mo
  3. Gainsco – $103/mo
  4. MetroMile – $105/mo
  5. Foremost – $106/mo

Best Car Insurance Companies for College Students

Gainsco 

Available in 17 states across the nation, Gainsco is at the top of our list for cheap car insurance for  young drivers. Gainsco’s website even provides a breakdown of insurance terms to help understand your policy. 

You can make a payment, access your policy and report a claim from their website. If you need further help, Gainsco’s customer care center is only a phone call away. 

Learn more about Gainsco

Commonwealth Casualty

Based in Arizona, Commonwealth Casualty prides itself on offering insurance “the way insurance should be.” With discounts for young drivers like their Vanishing Deductible and Multi-policy discount, you can save your money for those late-night study session coffee runs instead of emptying your pockets on monthly payments. 

Commonwealth Casualty also offers renters insurance and roadside assistance, making it easy to cover all your bases with one company. 

Learn more about Commonwealth Casualty

Metromile

Known for only selling pay-per-mile insurance policies, Metromile aims to challenge the idea of traditional insurance policies for college students. Basing your car insurance rate on your actual driving habits allows you to save money on your premium if you drive less than most.

Metromile gives all drivers a base monthly rate you’ll pay no matter how many miles you drive. You’re then given a per-mile rate that’s multiplied by the number of miles you drive every month. These two numbers make up your final monthly car insurance payment. If you’re a college student who doesn’t plan on spending too much time behind the wheel, Metromile might be the best insurance company for you. 

Learn more about Metromile

Dairyland 

If you had a less than stellar driving record throughout your high school years, you might struggle to find cheap car insurance as a college student. This is where Dairyland comes in.

Offering drivers cheap car insurance since 1953, Dairyland is the go-to cheap car insurance provider for hundreds of car and motorcycle drivers. Hailing from Wisconsin, Dairyland is known for providing high-risk drivers with affordable car insurance rates.

Dairyland will insure drivers with a history of driving violations with all the necessary coverage you need. For additional savings, Dairyland also offers discounts for drivers with multiple cars, anti-theft devices, or those who have taken a defensive driving course. 

Learn more about Dairyland

Foremost 

A subsidiary of the Farmers insurance group, Foremost offers cheap car insurance to college students across the nation. 

They even offer drivers various discounts, like their online payment, student away at school, or good driver discount, just to name a few. 

Clearcover 

Currently available in 19 states and counting, Clearcover is making a splash in the world of affordable car insurance. One of the biggest appeals of Clearcover is its easy-to-use insurance app. 

From the app, you can file and track claims, pay bills, get roadside assistance, show proof of insurance, and contact their customer service, known as Customer Advocates, 24/7. They pride themselves on providing the fastest claims experience in car insurance, with a record payout of 7 minutes. 

Along with their affordable rates, it’s no surprise Clearcover’s tech-based approach to insurance appeals to younger drivers. 

Learn more about Clearcover

Mercury 

Although Mercury insurance is mainly based in California, college students in ten other states across the nation can also benefit from Mercury’s affordable rates. 

College students looking to save on their car insurance policies can speak to a representative to which discounts they qualify for. Young drivers may also enjoy the Mercury app to view their digital ID cards, pay bills quickly, and easily access the roadside connectivity team. 

Learn more about Mercury

SafeAuto 

SafeAuto Insurance Group calls Ohio home but provides insurance for drivers in 20 states across America. While they specialize in offering drivers state minimum insurance, they also provide comprehensive and collision coverage if you need it. They are also known for insuring drivers who require SR22 coverage

SafeAuto can connect you with one of their partners to fill in coverage if you need more protection, such as roadside assistance or rental car reimbursement. Although SafeAuto offers basic coverage, they do have certain discounts available to young drivers, provided that you qualify for them. 

Learn more about SafeAuto

Cheapest Car Insurance for Students in Graduate School

As a graduate student, you can expect to be buried under a mountain of papers to write, books to read, and coffee to drink. So the last thing you need is to worry about the high costs of car insurance on top of everything else. 

However, graduate students will be happy to know that all hope isn’t lost in this area. There are ways you can save money on your car insurance while in grad school.

Graduate students should look for a company that offers grad student discounts.

If you’re under 25 and hold a 3.0 GPA, you could also qualify for the “Good Student Discount” with select insurers. Some companies also offer discounts for members or alumni of fraternities, sororities, and honor societies. 

How to Get Cheap Car Insurance as an International College Student

If you’re an international college student looking for cheap car insurance, you want to make sure you’re driving legally before you do anything else. While some states require all drivers have a U.S driver’s license, others allow drivers to use their license from their home country. 

Depending on the laws of your state, you may need to get a driver’s license from the state you attend school in or get an International Driver’s Permit. 

Cheap Car Insurance Tips for College Students 

So what tips do we have for college students looking to save some cash when it comes to their car insurance? 

Along with all the new changes that come in your first year of college, you’ll need to start implementing strategies to save money on your car insurance. Unlike other one-time payments, car insurance is a recurring expense and can be costly for a student adjusting to their first year living outside of their home. 

There are quite a few things you can do to avoid breaking the bank this semester. 

Get a Less Expensive Car

To begin with, you should give some thought to the kind of car you decide to buy before moving away to college. If you decide on purchasing a brand new car right before you leave, you could send your current insurance premiums sky-high. Not to mention the cost of repairs if you happen to get in a collision while driving on unfamiliar streets in your new town. 

It might be best to purchase an older, used car for the duration of your college career. Then, with all the money you save, you’ll be ready to upgrade after graduation. 

Choosing Vehicles with Safety Features

Does your current car have any special safety features? Choosing a safer vehicle can qualify you for safety-related discounts from your insurer. 

Keep Your Car at Home 

Students should also think about whether they will bring their car to campus or keep it at home. Think about the campus of the school you’ll be attending. Is it a walkable campus? Will you be living on campus or in off-campus housing? Will you need to travel off-campus often in your first year of college? While everyone’s circumstances are different, it may be more cost-effective to leave your car at home or bring it, depending on your lifestyle. 

Practice Safe Driving Habits

Insurance companies monitor your driving and reward you for good driving habits. Do your best to stick to safe driving practices in the years leading up to your first year of college and throughout your college career. Parents may also want to take this time to help their children develop good driving habits to lower their insurance rates.

Get Usage-Based Insurance

Are you a student who doesn’t drive frequently but still needs your own car insurance policy? If so, usage-based insurance may be a happy medium for you. This way, you can significantly reduce how much you pay for coverage while still knowing that you’re fully protected. 

Remain on Your Parent’s Policy

Some students choose to stay home and commute to school during their college career. If this is your situation, you should consider remaining on your parent’s policy.

However, this will only work if you stay at home. If you plan on moving away, you’ll have to purchase an individual policy. 

Why?

Well, if you get in a collision while away at school, things can get dicey. If you file a claim on your parent’s policy and the insurer doesn’t know you moved away from home, they may deny the claim or cancel coverage altogether. Any money you were saving by remaining on your parent’s policy has now gone down the drain.

Remaining on your parents’ policy should generally result in lower auto insurance costs for the family compared to buying a separate policy. Auto policies under a parents’ name tend to be lower-priced because the parents likely have a long history with the insurance company.

However, the flip side is if you run into trouble at the wheel, it can raise rates for your parents. So, be careful when behind the wheel.

Explore Discounts for a Student Who Will Drive Fewer Miles

What if you won’t be driving that much during your college career? 

Let’s say you’re attending college more than 100 miles from home without your car. Your parents can avoid an increase in monthly premiums if you leave your vehicle at home.  

In this case, you can still drive their car when you return home for breaks, provided you don’t drive for more than a certain number of days in a row. Every insurer has different stipulations, so be sure to check with them. 

Additionally, since you’re not driving the car as much, or even at all, you may be eligible for a further premium reduction based on the reduced mileage. Check with your insurer to see what discounts are available for your current policy. 

Comparison Shop Across Multiple Companies to Save on Student Car Insurance

To save money on student car insurance, you should always compare auto insurance quotes from as many companies as possible. It’s no secret that auto insurance is a highly competitive industry, with dozens of insurance companies vying for your attention. 

To get a sense of how much you’re paying for car insurance, compare the quotes you receive to the average cost of auto insurance in your state. This way, you can gather and compare quotes to ensure you’re getting a fair deal.

Without the right tool, comparing quotes across multiple websites can be time-consuming and overwhelming. The good news is, with Compare.com, you can compare multiple quotes in one singular location. Compare personalized quotes for student car insurance on Compare.com to save big bucks on your insurance premiums.

Increase Your Deductible

Increasing your deductible is another way to save money on your car insurance. Your deductible is the amount you’re required to pay out of pocket when filing a claim. A deductible lowers how much your carrier is responsible for should you get in an accident. 

This means opting for a higher deductible allows you to pay less for your monthly premium. Since you’re required to pay more out of pocket before your insurance company begins making payments, you’ll save on your overall car insurance policy.

Look for Companies That Offer Good GPA Discounts

It’s best to look for insurance companies that offer discounts for having a good GPA. 

Most insurance companies will discount premiums for full-time college students who meet any of the following requirements:

  • A grade average of B or higher 
  • Good standardized test scores on the SAT, ACT, or PSAT
  • Signed letter by your administrator giving evidence of your academic achievements 
  • Be in the top 20% of your class ranking 
  • Dean’s list or Honor Roll 

College students with good grades and a clean driving record can save 10%-15% with this discount. As every insurer differs with the amount they award young drivers, it’s best to ask your particular insurance company about discounts they might offer college students for good grades.

Below is just a small list of car insurance companies that offer the good student discount:

  • Nationwide
  • GEICO
  • State Farm 
  • Travelers 
  • Allstate
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Progressive

Take a Driving Course

Ever taken a defensive driving course? If not, there’s no time like the present.

Taking a defensive driving course can qualify you for a discount on your insurance premium. Depending on your state and driving record, you can see a 5%-20% reduction of your premium.

To get the defensive driver discount, you’ll need to complete an insurance company-approved course on defensive driving, like the AARP driving course. Before you strike out on your own to find a local driving course, consult your insurance company or insurance agent to confirm they offer this discount. 

Telematics Car Insurance for Students

Another way to save on car insurance is through telematics. Telematics analyzes your driving habits and reports them back to your insurer. It collects information about miles driven, acceleration, braking, turns, speed, and time of day. Your insurance company can then use this information to determine your rates or qualify you to receive discounts for your safe driving habits. 

Some telematics services connect to an app on your smartphone or another plug-in device that monitors your driving habits. 

Companies offering usage-based insurance include many of the major carriers, such as:

  • Progressive
  • Allstate
  • Safeco
  • State Farm
  • National General 
  • Travelers 
  • Metromile 

When Should College Students Get Their Own Car Insurance Policy?

So when should you get your own car insurance? 

Generally, the answer is when you live independently from your parents. If your insurance company discovers you’re living outside your parents’ home with a vehicle, you risk having your coverage or claim denied.

However, this doesn’t mean you’ll have to pay through the nose for a car insurance policy. If you live alone off-campus, you’ll likely need renters insurance, and bundling your car and renters insurance can help you save money with lower insurance premiums. 

When Should College Students Remain on Their Parents’ Car Insurance Policy?

College students who fall into the following categories should remain on their parent’s car insurance policy:

  • You don’t drive on campus: You won’t be driving while you’re away from your parents’ home, but you want to remain insured when you come home to visit.
  • You’ll be attending college locally: Are you going to college within the same city? If so, you can stay on your parents’ policy to save money. 
  • You want to avoid lapses in coverage: If you’re not driving but want to prevent a lapse in coverage, staying on your parents’ car insurance policy is ideal. If you’re caught with a lapse in your coverage, it can cause your insurance payments to rise when you buy insurance in the future. 
  • You come home often for holidays: If you have your own policy but come home for the holidays, you might still be covered under your family’s auto insurance policy if it has a permissive use clause as long as you drive your parents’ car. 

Remember, there is no maximum age limit for a child on a parent’s car insurance policy. In general, most insurers require all household members that have access to your vehicles to be listed on your policy. If you still live at home, even part-time, it can be beneficial to remain on your family’s policy.

FAQs About Cheap Car Insurance for College Students

What’s the Cheapest Insurance for an 18 Year Old?

At $145 a month, Gainsco car insurance is the cheapest insurance for an 18-year-old.

Do College Students Get Cheaper Car Insurance?

Generally, no, they don’t. Car insurance rates are determined by several factors, including age, driving record, vehicle make and model, and even your credit score. Younger drivers are often hit with higher rates, and drivers ages 16-25 pay more in car insurance than any other age group. However, there are specific discounts available to younger drivers, such as:

  • Good Student discount: You’re under the age of 25 and have a GPA of at least 3.0.
  • Graduate student discount: You’re alumni of an approved university.
  • Reduced mileage discount: The amount of miles you drive is lower than average.
  • Paid-in-full discount: You’ve paid your entire year’s premium at once. 
  • Multi-policy discount: You hold multiple insurance policies at the same company.

You can also get cheaper car insurance by opting to leave your car at home and remain on your parent’s car insurance for the time being. 

Is it Cheaper to go on a Parents’ Car Insurance?

For some students, it may be cheaper for you to remain on your parents’ car insurance. While each student’s unique situation is different, students planning to stay at home and commute to college will find it cheaper not to get a separate policy. Likewise, if you plan to leave your car at home and not drive on campus, you’ll find it more affordable to keep your current insurance plan.

Staying on a parent’s car insurance plan can also help you avoid lapses in coverage that could cause your car insurance payments to increase when purchasing a policy in the future. 

How Can College Students Get Cheap Insurance?

College students can get cheap insurance in a few different ways, including shopping around to get the best rate, increasing your deductible, remaining on your parent’s policy, and using telematics tracking to secure a discount. 

How do I Get Off my Parents’ Car Insurance?

If you’re ready to get your own insurance policy, here are some steps to take.

  1. Check your state’s minimum coverage requirement to ensure you meet the bare minimum coverage to drive legally. 
  2. Compare rates, so you get the best possible deal with your new insurer.
  3. Choose the insurance company that’s best for you.
  4. Provide proof of insurance to switch from your parent’s policy to your own. 

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