Student car insurance

If you're a student, expensive car insurance is about as welcome as a Sunday morning hangover. See how you could save and compare cheap car insurance now.

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Heading off to college or university? In the frenzy of planning for your studies, accommodation and social life, car insurance is likely to be low on your priority list. But becoming a student can have a big knock-on effect on car insurance premiums, especially if you plan to take your car with you during term-time. Read on to find out what you need from student car insurance and how to keep costs as low as possible.

What is student car insurance?

Student car insurance is, simply, car insurance that you take out while you’re a university or college student. While some insurers, such as Endsleigh, specialise in student insurance, most mainstream insurers are willing to cover student drivers.

If you take out a car insurance policy as a student, you’ll need to put this down as your occupation on the quote form. If you become a full-time student part way through a policy year, you should let your insurer know. Changing your occupation to “student” could change your insurance risk.

Do I need car insurance as a student?

If you drive a car as a student, even if only occasionally, you legally need to be insured on that car.

However, the best way to get cover will depend on whether you own the car and how often you drive it. If you own a car and drive it all year round, your best bet is your own car insurance policy. You should let your insurer know if you take your car with you to college or university, as they’ll want to know the new address where your car is kept.

However, if you drive someone else’s car every now and then – for example, when you’re home for the holidays – you might be better off taking out temporary car insurance or asking to be added as a named driver on the main driver’s policy.

Do I need to insure my car even if I don’t use it?

If you own a car but don’t use it for long periods – if you decide not to take it with you to drive during term-time, for example – it could be tempting to let your insurance policy lapse.

Be wary of doing this, though. Even if you’re not driving it, you’re legally obliged to insure any car that is left parked on a public road. You’ll need to maintain your insurance if this is the case. Do let your insurer know you won’t be driving much, though. If your mileage is lower than it was previously, this may reduce your premiums.

If your car is parked on private property, such as on your parent’s driveway or in a private garage, you can declare it off the road by making a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). If you do this, you won’t legally need to maintain your insurance. However, bear in mind that you won’t be financially protected against risks while your car is parked – for example, if it’s stolen or damaged by fire.

How much does student car insurance cost ?

While there are no stats available that specifically give the cost of student car insurance, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) publishes average premiums by age group.

According to the ABI’s latest figures, the average cost of car insurance for 18-20 year olds is just over £1,000. It’s around £750 for 21-25 year olds. The specific cost of your student car insurance will depend on your age and driving experience, as well as the type of car you drive, and the level of cover you choose. Location will also play a big part. Students in big cities are likely to pay more than those studying – and driving – on rural campuses.

Why is car insurance for students so expensive?

Liz Edwards

Finder insurance expert Liz Edwards answers

In simple terms, car insurance is typically more expensive for students because most students are young, and young drivers are considered a higher risk than older drivers. This is down to factors such as a lack of driving experience and the likelihood that they’ll be involved in an accident. According to road safety charity Brake, 1 in 5 drivers crash within a year of passing their test.

Even if you’re a mature student, you may find that your premium is higher than you expect, as listing your occupation as “student” will put you in a high-risk category.

As many universities are found in cities or other busy urban areas, student drivers are also at more risk of having their car stolen or damaged, which also contributes to higher insurance premiums.

Don’t be tempted to “bend the truth” about your main occupation or your address, though. If you deliberately provide false information, it may invalidate your policy, and the insurer may not pay out for any claims.

What affects the cost of car insurance for students?

Where you live, the type of car you drive and your age are all key factors for insurers calculating your premium.

Other factors that affect how much your car insurance costs include:

  • Where you live. If you live in an area with a higher crime rate, you’ll find that your premiums will be more expensive on average.
  • Your driving record. If you’ve got a history of poor driving, expect to pay more. But if you’re a good driver, many insurers will reward this.
  • Where your car is parked. Keep it in a secure garage and you’re likely to have cheaper premiums than if you were to park it on the street.
  • Your payment frequency. Some insurers will charge you extra if you choose to pay monthly as opposed to annually.
  • Your chosen excess. If you opt for a higher excess, you can benefit from cheaper premiums. Just make sure you can afford it if you do need to make a claim.

Do I have to give my insurer my term-time student address?

It depends on where you will be keeping and driving the car most of the time. If you take your car to university or college with you, your car will be mainly kept at your student address, so this should be what you put on your car insurance policy – even if it increases your premiums.

However, if you leave your car at your parents’ place during term-time and only drive it when you’re home for the holidays, you’re probably fine to use your parents’ address.

If in doubt, contact the insurer to ask which address to use.

How going to university could affect car insurance premiums

We gathered quotes for an 18 year old with a year of driving experience, driving a Vauxhall Corsa and putting in 5,000 miles a year.

In our first scenario, our 18 year old works as a restaurant manager and lives with their parents in Berkshire. In the second scenario, they’re an undergraduate student living in rented accommodation in east London.

We also ran quotes for an 18 year old, east London-based restaurant manager, who was offered similar quotes to the London-based student. This suggests that location had the biggest impact on premiums in this comparison – an important consideration as many universities are based in cities, where premiums will tend to be higher.

Berkshire-based restaurant manager

Lowest quote = £1,103

  • Offered 32 quotes in total
  • 13 of the 32 quotes, including lowest quote, were telematics policies
  • The cheapest non-telematics policy quote was £2,302

    London-based student

    Lowest quote = £2,420

    • Offered 20 quotes in total
    • 9 of the 20 quotes, including lowest quote, were telematics policies
    • The cheapest non-telematics policy quote was £5,055

    What are the different types of student car insurance?

    No matter what your occupation is, there are 3 different types of car insurance available.

    To be on UK roads, all drivers are legally required to have at least third-party car insurance.

    • Third-party (TP). This is the most basic cover level and will cover you if you damage someone else’s vehicle or property, or injure them while driving. However, it won’t cover any damage to your car.
    • Third-party, fire and theft (TPFT). If you are responsible for causing an accident, you’ll be protected for damage to other people’s vehicles or property, or if they are injured. You’ll also have protection against any fire damage or theft of your car.
    • Comprehensive. This is the highest level of cover and will provide the same protection as TPFT as well as insuring your vehicle against accidental damage and vandalism.

    The cover levels available to young drivers can vary between insurance providers, so check your policy carefully to ensure you have the right level of cover.

    What level of cover is cheapest for students?

    While you might assume that the most basic level of car insurance cover (third-party) will be the cheapest, this isn’t always the case.

    It’s always worth checking the cost of comprehensive cover, as it can be cheaper than third-party or third-party, fire and theft.

    What optional extras are available with student car insurance?

    As a student driver, you’ll have access to the same optional car insurance extras as anyone else. These include breakdown cover, legal expenses cover and windscreen cover. Bear in mind that the more extras you add, the higher your premium is likely to be. Read our guide on car insurance optional extras to help decide if each add-on is worth it.

    Can students get a discount on car insurance?

    It’s very unlikely; car insurers don’t typically offer discounts for students. Insurers set premiums based on the risk profile of each individual. Unfortunately, students in their late teens or early 20s will usually be seen as a higher risk due to their relative lack of driving experience.

    But there are tactics you can use to cut the cost of student car insurance. These include adding yourself as a named driver for a parent’s car that you drive occasionally, or considering “black box” insurance.

    Are any types of car insurance cheaper?

    There are a couple of alternatives to traditional car insurance that could help reduce costs.

    Telematics car insurance

    Otherwise known as black box insurance, this is where you agree to have a “black box” recording device fitted into your car. This tracks your driving, such as what roads you drive on, how fast you drive and accelerate, and the times you drive, and sends the data back to your insurer.

    • Pros: Careful driving is usually rewarded through lower premiums.
    • Cons: Poor driving habits could see your premiums rise.

    Pay-as-you-go car insurance

    This charges you a flat fee to cover your car against damage or theft while parked, plus a charge per mile or hour you drive. This is usually tracked using a black-box device.

    • Pros: May be a cheaper option if you don’t drive frequently or far.
    • Cons: If you drive every day, or long distances, costs could clock up and work out more expensive than normal insurance.

    What are the cheapest cars to insure for students?

    Whether you’re a student or not, some cars are cheaper to insure than others. But the high average cost of student car insurance means that the car you choose can make a bigger difference to your premium than for older drivers.

    The cheapest cars to insure are, as you’d expect, typically cheaper to buy – and therefore to replace in the event of a write-off. Smaller, less powerful cars are also a good choice. Fast, powerful cars are statistically more likely to be involved in an accident.

    A good short-cut to working out whether a car will be cheap to insure is to check its car insurance group, from 1 to 50. The lower the car insurance group, the lower the likely premiums.

    Popular cars where most models fall into lower insurance groups include the Ford Ka, Toyota Yaris and Vauxhall Corsa. Just avoid higher-end performance or sports models.

    Can I get insured on a parent’s car insurance policy?

    Potentially, yes. If you’re a student who occasionally drives your parent’s car, such as during the holidays, you can ask them to add you to their insurance policy as a “named driver”. The downside for your parent is that adding you to their policy is likely to increase their premiums. That’s because, as a young and less-experienced driver, their car insurer will see you as adding extra risk. However, it’s likely to be less expensive for you to be added as a named driver than for you to take out your own policy to drive their car.

    However, importantly, if you are the person who drives the car the most overall, you should not put yourself down as a named driver on a parent’s policy. This rule applies regardless of whether you or your parent owns the car. The main driver on a policy should be the person that drives the car the most. If that’s you, but your parent is listed as the main driver, you’ll be guilty of a criminal offence known as “fronting”.

    What is fronting and why do I need to avoid it?

    Fronting is where you claim that a lower-risk driver, such as a parent, is the person that drives a car the most (the main driver on a car insurance policy), when really a higher-risk “named driver” on the policy, such as a young university student, uses the car more often.

    While it can be tempting to do this in a bid to keep premiums down, don’t. It’s a form of insurance fraud and a criminal offence. At the very least it’s likely to invalidate your insurance policy and mean that any claims will be rejected. It could even result in you being prosecuted for fraud.

    How can I get cheaper student car insurance?

    • Buy a smaller, less expensive car. Choosing a modest car over a sports model or highly modified vehicle will save you money on insurance.
    • Don’t claim unless absolutely necessary. It might save you money in the short term, but it will wipe out any no claims bonus you may have and mark you as a risky driver, which increases your premiums.
    • Increase your excess. By agreeing to pay a higher excess, you can reduce the cost of your insurance premiums.
    • Don’t list other young drivers on your policy. Restrict the number of people who can drive your car, and preferably limit it to those who are over 25, with the exception of yourself.
    • Consider adding a more experienced driver. Adding an older, more experienced driver as a policy “named driver“, such as a parent, could reduce your premiums as they will be considered lower-risk by the insurer.
    • Improve your car’s security. If possible, park in a garage instead of the street, and add security such as an alarm, tracking device or antitheft device for lower premiums.
    • Consider temporary car insurance. If you only drive occasionally, it may not be worth taking out annual cover.
    • Switch to telematics insurance. If you’re a safe driver, consider a telematics insurance policy, where a black box device is fitted to your car to measure driving performance. The better your driving, the cheaper your insurance.
    • Compare student car insurance providers. Always research a number of policies to find the best deal. Some insurers may even offer discounts or specialised cover for students. You can compare student car insurance from dozens of leading insurance providers by clicking the green button below.

    What details do I need to compare student car insurance quotes?

    Before you sit down to get quotes, pull together the following information. All insurers and comparison sites, including Finder, will need these details to provide a quote:

    • The car’s registration (if known – otherwise you’ll need as much detail as possible about the make and model)
    • Your occupation (if you’re a full-time student, put this as your main occupation)
    • Your annual mileage
    • The address the car will be kept most of the time, plus where it will be parked (for example, on the road, in a garage)
    • Details of the car’s security and any modifications
    • Your driving history, including any claims and driving convictions

    What happens to my car insurance when I’m no longer a student?

    When you leave college or university, contact your car insurer to let them know about your change in circumstances. This is likely to affect your risk level and your premiums.

    You may not automatically see a dramatic reduction in premiums. Your age and driving experience impact the price of your insurance premium, and this does not change the instant you finish studying. However, there are some situations in which you may pay less. For example, if you were studying in London and have since moved to the country, your insurance may reduce as you’ll be considered less at risk of an incident. Changes in occupation and your annual mileage may also affect how the insurer assesses your risk.

    Bottom line

    While students typically pay more for car insurance, using the tactics in this guide will help keep costs to a minimum. And don’t assume that all insurers will be equally pricey. Always compare your cover options across providers to find the best deal.

    Frequently asked questions

    *Based on data provided by Consumer Intelligence Ltd, www.consumerintelligence.com (March '21). 51% of car insurance customers could save £228.60.
    The offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of products we can track; we don't cover every product on the market...yet. Unless we've indicated otherwise, products are shown in no particular order or ranking. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations), aren't product ratings, although we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it; this is subject to our terms of use. When making a big financial decision, it's wise to consider getting independent financial advice, and always consider your own financial circumstances when comparing products so you get what's right for you.

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