Find coverage you can afford when you’re in college.
Car insurance providers typically treat college students like any young driver, charging higher rates to cover the cost of inexperience and potential risk. This is because, according to many years of statistics, drivers under 25 are more likely to be involved in accidents than those who are older and more experienced on the road.
The good news is that you can take measures to bring those costs down. Find out how you can find more reasonable rates on an car insurance policy that works for you.
What factors affect my car insurance rates?
While age and driving experience definitely play a part, plenty of other factors can affect your rate.
- Your age or driving experience. Young drivers are considered riskier customers, statistically involved in more accidents than experienced drivers. To cover this perceived risk, insurers nearly always apply higher premiums to drivers who are 25 or younger. To lower your cost, consider grouping coverage on a family member’s policy.
- Your credit score. Only California, Hawaii and Massachusetts prohibit insurance companies from using your credit score to assess your risk. In other states, a low credit score could prevent you from getting great insurance rates.
- Where you live. Rural drivers typically pay less for their car insurance than urban drivers, where a higher risk of vandalism, theft and crashes tend to increase claims. Climate can also play into how a provider assesses your rates — just think about the increased potential for accidents in a place where it snows and rains for half the year, or the heightened risk of damage in an area known for flooding or severe tropical storms.
- Your driving record. The longer you go without an accident, the better your rates can be. If you’ve had any recent accidents or tickets, consider a defensive driving course. Depending on your provider, completing a class might bring your rate down by as much as 10%.
- The vehicle you drive. Generally, the car you drive affects how much you’ll pay for car insurance. Older cars, convertibles, high-performance vehicles and luxury cars are among those you might pay more for.
- Your job. If you work in government, nonprofits, healthcare or education, you could qualify for a discount of up to 15%. If you’re on your parent’s insurance, their occupation benefit could trickle down to you as well.
How can a college student save on car insurance?
You can’t magically age yourself out of the college student demographic. And it’s not a good idea to lie on your application.
So how can you play your cards right and still pay a reasonable amount?
- Partner with your parents. A top way to save is by staying on your parents’ car insurance for as long as possible. You can establish an insurance history until it’s time to get your own policy, and your rates are more affordable in the meantime.
- Keep up your grades. If you’re able to keep your GPA at 3.0 or better, your insurer might reward you with lower rates.
- Drive less frequently. The fewer miles you drive annually, the lower your rates could be. Consolidate grocery trips and other errands when possible, and carpool with others offering to drive.
- Drive safely. A spotless driving record nearly always gets you more favorable insurance rates. But even if you’ve had accidents or tickets, completing safe driving courses might bring your rates down. In some cases, these courses can even remove points from your driving record.
- Shop around. By taking the time to compare providers and policies, you can find the best rates you’re eligible for.
Best insurance providers for college students
A few insurers stand out when it comes to staying covered while you hit the books. You’ll find unique discounts for college students, among other policy features.
- Allstate. You could qualify for a Smart Student discount if you’re enrolled full time and get good grades, complete a TeenSMART drivers education program or attend school 100 miles away from home, where the car must be parked and unused during the academic year.
- American Family. Rate breaks include those for good grades, volunteering, safe driving or attending school over 100 miles from home without a car — similar to what Allstate offers.
- State Farm. This well-known provider offers lower premiums for a clean driving record, additionally offering up to 25% in discounts for good grades.
- Amica. If you keep your driving record clean, get good grades or leave your vehicle at home while attending college more than 100 miles from home, you can expect lower rates on coverage.
Is leaving the car at home worth the discount?
The short answer: probably not. While a student could save upward of 80% on their car insurance while away at school, the car must be parked and unused the entire time the student is away.
Not only is this impractical — for instance, a parent or sibling could make use of the car — but it’s also hard on a vehicle to park it for months at a time without driving it, even if it’s in a climate-controlled garage or storage facility.
What about temporary insurance?
If you’re a college student who’s only planning to drive three or four months out of the year, there’s a chance temporary insurance is the right choice for you. You could save over the cost of a traditional 6 month or annual policy by only getting temporary coverage during the periods when you’re home and would be driving your vehicle.
Temporary insurance can usually be bought for the length of time you need it, but isn’t often available from standard providers.
As an alternative to temporary insurance, letting a parent or sibling take over the vehicle and its insurance costs while you’re away at school is another good option to consider. Working out an arrangement within your family is likely to be the cheapest way to handle the transitions, as standard policies are almost always less expensive — and complicated — than temporary coverage.
Older drivers usually get better car insurance rates than college students, teenagers or other “inexperienced” drivers. But you could make your car insurance more affordable with good grades, by driving less frequently or staying on your parents’ car insurance for as long as possible.
To find the best rates you’re eligible for, weigh your needs and priorities against what’s offered by all the different providers out there.