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Whether you’re an undergraduate or the parent of one, buying affordable car insurance for college students can be tricky. Policies tend to be more expensive for young and relatively inexperienced drivers. The average annual rate for an 18-year-old driver is $1,706 just for minimum coverage, according to Insurance.com’s 2022 data. Fortunately, you can do several things to lower the cost of coverage.

The key to finding cheap car insurance for college students is to be aware of every available discount and all the options insurance companies offer for students away at school.

Indeed, there are plenty of ways to save on auto insurance for college students. Read on for our expert tips.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • Car insurance can be expensive for young, inexperienced drivers, such as college students.
  • Students can save money by taking advantage of good-student discounts.
  • You can qualify for lower rates if you’re staying on a parent or guardian’s auto policy while away at school without a car.

Auto insurance for college students

Car insurance for college students can be a solo policy, or the student can remain on their parents’ or guardians’ policy in most cases.

Teen drivers generally start on their parents’ or guardians’ car insurance. Because these drivers are young and inexperienced, the cost of covering a teen driver is a considerable but necessary expense. 

Once a student graduates from high school and moves on to college, things can change. The Insurance Information Institute notes that many colleges restrict students’ ability to drive cars on campus during their first two years of study. Students who live on campus are less likely to need a car. 

However, a college student may still need a car and auto insurance coverage in other situations. When this is the case, it’s important to take the right steps to keep coverage costs low. 

How much is car insurance for college students?

Rates vary by company and by age; the older you are, the less you will pay for insurance. Below are average rates from the top five largest car insurance companies based on a state-minimum policy.

Cheapest Car Insurance for College Students
Company18-year-old driver19-year-old driver20-year-old driver21-year-old driver
State Farm$1,195$1,003$887$757
Progressive$2,015$1,252$1,110$874
Geico$919$719$634$503
Allstate$1,544$1,077$936$747
USAA$851$643$579$457

5 tips for buying car insurance for college students

College students have to shop carefully if they want good, affordable coverage. Here are five tips to help college students find the right car insurance policy

Understand what type of insurance you need

Before you shop for car insurance, make sure you know what type of coverage you need. For example:

  • Can you get by with the minimum liability coverage, or do you need more protection? 
  • Should you skip collision and comprehensive insurance, or do you need to add it? 
  • Does it make sense to pay for optional coverage, such as gap insurance or roadside assistance? 

Find a good insurance agent

Shopping for auto insurance can be confusing and challenging. A little extra help from an expert can make a big difference. 

“We always recommend working with a qualified agent to ensure your policy is appropriate for your insurance needs,” says Justin Yoshizawa, director of product management at Mercury Insurance.

Shop around

As with almost any product, shopping around is the best way to get a great deal. 

“Make sure you shop around with multiple carriers to get the best rates and coverages,” Yoshizawa says.

Insurers all have their own individual models for determining how much to charge, and you’ll get a better deal with some insurers than with others. 

Ask about student discounts

Before you buy a car insurance policy, make sure you ask about discounts. Lots of insurance companies offer price breaks to students who meet specific qualifications. 

“We have a number of ways for college-aged students to save money,” Yoshizawa says.

For example, Mercury offers discounts to students who maintain good grades and a telematics program that rewards those who drive safely.

Don’t buy your own insurance policy

Staying on your parents’ or guardians’ insurance policy is usually a better and cheaper option than buying individual coverage for yourself. If you can, stick with their policy.

How to get cheap car insurance for college students

The best way to get cheap car insurance if you’re a college student is to shop around and compare quotes from various insurers. However, other factors also determine how much a college student will pay for insurance coverage. 

A college student’s permanent residence will help decide how expensive coverage will be. Students who live at home and commute to school can stay on their parents’ or guardians’ policy. The cost of coverage this way will likely be lower than if they have to get their own policy. 

Students who live on campus or on their own may be unable to stay on their parents’ or guardians’ policy. Check with your insurer to find out. 

Another thing to keep in mind is whose name is on the car title. Students who own a vehicle will likely have to get a policy in their own name. 

Car insurance discounts for college students

College students can cut costs by taking advantage of several car insurance discounts. Take a look at some common discounts and the average savings for each, based on 2022 Insurance.com data: 

Student away at school discount. If you are the parent of a student who is going away to school and not taking a car, your insurer may cut you a break on your rates. Discounts on car insurance for college students away from home are generally reserved for students who attend a school at least 100 miles from home. The average savings is 16%.

Good student discount. Unmarried, full-time students may get a price break on insurance premiums if they get good grades in their college classes. This discount is typically available up to the age of 25. The GPA requirement can vary, but a 3.0 is common. The average savings is 14%.

Discount for bundling coverage. College students who purchase renters and auto insurance from the same insurer may get a multi-policy discount. The average savings is 9%.

Anti-theft and safety devices discount. Some insurers may offer a price break to students who have cars with anti-theft and safety devices. Savings range from 1-3%.

Methodology

Insurance.com commissioned discount information in 2022 from Quadrant Data Solutions, fielded from a survey of 81 insurance companies in all 51 states. Discounts are based on a full coverage policy for an 18-year-old driver, with the exception of the student away discount; this is applied to the adult’s policy and is based on a 40-year-old driver.

Sources: