Car insurance for college students

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Car insurance is usually the most expensive when drivers are young. Most parents want to pick the best car insurance for their teen driver, but finding great rates can be tough. In this article, Bankrate outlines the best car insurance for college students and how they can potentially save some money while still protecting their — or your — finances in the event of a car accident.

Key takeaways
  • Geico offers the cheapest average annual full coverage car insurance rate for students added to their parents’ policies among the companies Bankrate looked at.
  • College students on their parents’ policies who qualify for both distant student and good student discounts at State Farm can potentially save more than with any other company on our list.
  • Even if your student is not driving at college, you should consider keeping them on your policy to avoid a lapse in coverage. Many car insurance companies offer distant student rates that will lower your premium while your student is at school if they are not driving.

The best car insurance for college students

While many of the best car insurance companies provide discounts to college students, some are more generous than others. Below, Bankrate’s insurance editorial team rounded up five car insurance providers that offer lower-than-average rates to college-aged drivers on their parents’ policy (according to 2021 auto insurance rate data pulled from Quadrant Information Services), attractive discounts and high-quality customer service for college students.

Allstate

Why we picked this carrier: Solid discount opportunities for college students.

Allstate’s average annual cost for full coverage car insurance is $2,202 a year for 18-year-olds on their parents’ policy. Note that this rate reflects the added cost of a teen joining their parents’ policy. The chart below indicates that, on average, college students around the age of 18 can save $402 a year with Allstate by applying both the good student and distant student discounts.

Allstate’s average annual full coverage car insurance rates for college students

(Student rates reflect the added cost to their parents’ premium, rather than total cost)
Married rate before adding a student Full coverage student rate Distant student discount rate Good student discount rate Both discount rates
Cost $2,039 $2,202 $2,179 $1,810 $1,800

Although Allstate has the steepest premium on our list, college students may be able to apply discounts to bring down the cost of its auto insurance. Allstate offers a Smart Student discount and teenSmart driver education program that offer additional savings. College students who can maintain a GPA of at least 2.7 may qualify for a good student discount. If your young driver is attending school at least 100 miles from their primary residence, they may also be eligible for a distant student discount.

Allstate’s car insurance pros and cons for college students
Pros Cons
Allstate offers money-saving programs such as Smart Student and teenSmart.
If your student qualifies for a good student and distant student discount, they could save $402 per year.
Allstate has the highest premiums for full coverage insurance on our list.

Learn more: Allstate insurance review

Farmers

Why we picked this carrier: Farmers offers lots of discount opportunities to students.

Students on their parents’ policy pay an average of $2,118 for their insurance each year with Farmers. Note that this rate reflects the added cost of a teen joining their parents’ policy. By taking advantage of the distant student and good student discounts, an 18-year-old driver may save an average of $400 on their annual premium cost.

Farmers’ average annual full coverage car insurance rates for college students

(Student rates reflect the added cost to their parents’ premium, rather than total cost)
Married rate before adding a student Full coverage student rate Distant student discount rate Good student discount rate Both discount rates
Cost $1,944 $2,118 $2,068 $1,786 $1,718

Maintaining good grades or appearing on the Dean’s List or Honor Roll may result in savings, and so might attending college more than 100 miles from home without a vehicle. Farmers also offers a youthful driver discount for anyone under 25 who is a child or grandchild of a policyholder.

Farmers’ car insurance pros and cons for college students
Pros Cons
Students who make the Dean’s List or Honor Roll may be able to save.
Farmers offers a student discount.
Farmers’ youthful driver discount applies to any driver under 25 who is the child or grandchild of a policyholder.
Farmers insurance isn’t initially cheap for college students, on average. The company has the second-highest full coverage premium on our list.

Learn more: Farmers insurance review

Geico

Why we picked this carrier: Geico offers the lowest average annual rates for adding a college student to their parents’ car insurance policy on our list.

Geico’s average annual cost for full coverage car insurance for 18-year-olds on their parents’ policy is $1,519. This rate reflects the added cost of a teen joining their parents’ policy. The chart below shows that, on average, college students at the age of 18 — who apply both the good and distant student discount rates — pay $250 less per year on average with Geico car insurance.

Geico’s’ average annual full coverage car insurance rates for college students

(Student rates reflect the added cost to their parents’ premium, rather than total cost)
Married rate before adding a student Full coverage student rate Distant student discount rate Good student discount rate Both discount rates
Cost $1,359 $1,519 $1,501 $1,269 $1,269

College students may also be able to get other discounts to bring down the cost of the policy. Geico offers discounts for membership in several organizations in addition to good student and distant student discounts.

Geico’s car insurance pros and cons for college students
Pros Cons
Geico offers discounts to more than 800 membership groups.
College students can qualify for good student or distant student discounts.
The company’s full coverage rate for college students without discounts is the lowest on our list.
Geico doesn’t offer a 24/7 helpline like some of its competitors.

Learn more: Geico insurance review

Progressive

Why we picked this carrier: Progressive’s Snapshot telematics program could be a great savings opportunity for college students who drive safely and infrequently.

Progressive’s average annual cost for full coverage car insurance for 18-year-olds on their parents’ policy is $1,727. Note that this rate reflects the added cost of a teen joining their parents’ policy. Applying good student and distant student discounts, 18-year-old drivers may pay $213 less annually on Progressive car insurance.

Progressive’s average annual full coverage car insurance rates for college students

(Student rates reflect the added cost to their parents’ premium, rather than total cost)
Married rate before adding a student Full coverage student rate Distant student discount rate Good student discount rate Both discount rates
Cost $1,376 $1,727 $1,692 $1,514 $1,514

In addition to the standard good student and distant student discounts, Progressive also offers Snapshot, a usage-based car insurance discount for infrequent and safe drivers. Eligibility for its good student discount requires “B” letter grade or higher. To qualify for the distant student discount, college drivers must attend school at least 100 miles from their primary residence, be 22 years of age or younger and not have a vehicle with them at school.

Progressive’s car insurance pros and cons for college students
Pros Cons
Some college students drive infrequently. Progressive allows these drivers to pay based on usage.
The company offers good student and distant student discounts.
Progressive typically ranks lower than the industry average in customer satisfaction.

Learn more: Progressive insurance review

State Farm

Why we picked this carrier: State Farm offers a generous potential percentage discount for good students.

Students with State Farm pay an average annual cost for full coverage car insurance of $1,615 a year when added on their parents’ policy. With the good student and distant student discount rates applied, 18-year-old drivers save an average of $428 annually on State Farm car insurance.

State Farm’s average annual full coverage car insurance rates for college students

(Student rates reflect the added cost to their parents’ premium, rather than total cost)
Married rate before adding a student Full coverage student rate Distant student discount rate Good student discount rate Both discount rates
Cost $1,456 $1,615 $1,626 $1,187 $1,187

State Farm offers up to 25% in annual savings for eligible college students who can maintain a GPA of at least 3.0. Students attending school awayfrom their primary residence without a car may also be eligible for a distant student discount.

State Farm’s car insurance pros and cons for college students
Pros Cons
State Farm has the second-lowest full coverage premium on our list, without discounts.
College students who qualify for both distant student and good student discounts save more than with any other company on our list.
The company doesn’t offer gap insurance to its customers.

Learn more: State Farm insurance review

Should parents or college students purchase car insurance?

If a child goes away to school and takes a vehicle the parent owns to campus, keeping them on the household car insurance policy is typically the cheapest option and will likely be required by your car insurance company. Likewise, if a parent and a student jointly own a car, the college student may be required to stay on the family insurance policy.

While many car insurance companies might let your student take a vehicle on their parents’ car insurance policy to school, it’s a good best practice to let your insurer know to ensure there aren’t any changes to your premium based on the car’s location.

If a college student owns their vehicle, they must have auto insurance in their name.

What do parents need to know about insuring a college student?

As noted above, if you are a parent and want to maintain car insurance for a college student if they bring a car to college somewhere else, you should let your insurance company know in case any changes are needed to your policy. Parents of students who go to school locally and still claim their parents’ address as their permanent address during the school year shouldn’t have to change their policy.

If your student does not take a car with them to college, you could ask your insurer to see if you are eligible for a distant student discount. That way, they can drive when they visit for weekends and holidays, but you may be able to get a lower rate.

Note that if your student will not drive at college, it is likely still a good idea to keep them on your policy. If they are uninsured, that lapse of coverage may result in higher rates when they are ready to drive later. If you take your student off your car insurance policy and they do not have their own, they will not be able to drive the family vehicles if they visit. And if they still claim your residence as a permanent address and are licensed to drive, most insurance companies will require that you keep them on your policy. Distant student discounts might be able to help keep premiums down if your student is at school but not driving.

Something else to look at is your child’s job. If they are working in a position requiring extensive driving — such as delivering groceries for Instacart or driving for Uber — standard car insurance will likely not cover them while working. Talk to your insurance agent to determine the best way to handle this to ensure they will be covered if they have an accident while working.

Should a college student drive someone else’s car?

When you purchase car insurance, you are getting insurance for the vehicle, not the driver.

If your student drives someone else’s car, the vehicle owner would be responsible for having car insurance and paying for any costs involved. Likewise, if someone drives your college student’s car and causes damages, your insurance would pay up to your coverage limits. As the car’s owner, it is your responsibility and insurance that apply.

Keep in mind that the owner’s insurance will not cover your student if they used the car without permission, if they were under the influence, driving without a valid license or specifically excluded from the owner’s insurance policy.

How can college students save money on car insurance?

Because car insurance rates for young drivers are significantly higher than the national average cost of car insurance, finding ways to save money may be critical. To find cheap car insurance for college students, getting several quotes can give you an idea of what you will pay.

You may also want to be on the lookout for discounts, which have the potential to greatly reduce your college student’s premium.

Your student may be able to score discounts for:

  • Maintaining good grades. Some insurers reward students for doing well in school. For instance, an insurer might cut a college student’s rate if their report card consistently shows at least a B average or a 3.0 GPA. This discount may apply to high school, college and graduate school drivers, often up to age 25.
  • Remaining accident-free. If you are a safe driver and have not been in an accident for a period specified by your car insurance company, such as three years, your insurer might reduce your premium.
  • Having multiple policies. When college students or parents bundle different types of insurance (such as auto and home or auto and renters) with the same carrier, they may pay less.
  • Belonging to an organization. Are you affiliated with a fraternity, sorority, honor society or other membership organization? If so, you might qualify for a car insurance discount. Different insurers partner with different organizations, so ask your insurance agent.
  • Enrolling at a particular college or university. Some institutions partner with insurers, making you eligible for insurance discounts while you are a student.
  • Attending a far-away school. Many car insurers offer a discount if a college student goes to school at least 100 miles from their primary home and does not have their own (or a parent’s) vehicle on campus.
  • Being in the military. If you are active-duty, reserve or closely related to someone who has served in the military, some insurance companies may give you a military discount.
  • Enrolling in a telematics program. Many insurers use telematics technology to monitor how safe you are behind the wheel and how often you drive. Every program is different, but they all collect data—such as how fast you drive, when you drive, how hard you brake and your mileage—to evaluate you. If you stay within safe ranges set by the insurer or drive infrequently, you may get a reduced rate.

Other insurance college students may need

In addition to having the right types and amounts of car insurance, college students may need other coverage to protect themselves and their families.

Renters insurance

If your full-time student lives on campus in a dormitory, your home or renters insurance typically covers their belongings against theft, fire or storm damage. If they move out of student housing, they are no longer covered under your home or renter’s policy and need their own policy.

Getting renters insurance for your off-campus college student may cost as little as $15 to $20 per month. It would help pay to repair or replace damaged or stolen items, such as computers, phones, furniture, bikes, musical instruments and clothes.

Most renters insurance also gives your college student liability coverage if a visitor gets hurt at their place. It also provides funds for living expenses up to a certain limit if a student’s off-campus apartment or rental home becomes uninhabitable while repairs are made after a natural disaster, such as a fire or windstorm.

Life insurance

If you co-signed student loans, you may want to have your college student covered by life insurance to cover those loans if they pass away. One option is a term life insurance policy for them, which is usually inexpensive and only stays in effect for a certain number of years. Once your student is financially independent, they can decide if they want to purchase more extensive coverage themselves. If you want to purchase a life insurance policy for your adult child, you will need their consent.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best car insurance company?

Each car insurance company has different coverage options, discounts, claims processes and state requirements to consider when comparing quotes and providers. To find the best car insurance company, consider your circumstances, needs, state requirements and what you are looking for in car insurance.

What is a good car insurance rate for college students?

Car insurance for college students is typically expensive, since car insurance companies perceive younger drivers as higher risk, but everyone’s rates will vary based on their circumstances. However, there are ways you can make sure you’re getting the cheapest car insurance possible. Keeping your college student on your policy can possibly save them hundreds of dollars. You may also want to see which student discounts apply to them. Most car insurance companies offer good student and distant student discounts which can reduce your premium by hundreds of dollars.

How long can college students stay on their parents car insurance?

If you’re a full-time student or live with your parents, you’re typically able to stay on their auto insurance policy. Most insurance companies specify age limits, though, so you may want to check with your insurance agent.

What are the most expensive cities for parents of teen drivers?

It’s most expensive to add a teen to your insurance policy in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego – all California cities. In these cities, your annual full coverage car insurance premium will increase between 169% and 161% on average after adding a teen to your policy.

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 18-year-old male and female driver with a cleaning driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
  • $500 collision deductible
  • $500 comprehensive deductible

To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverages that meet each state’s requirements. Our sample drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

Age: Rates for the 18-year-olds were determined based on the added cost to their 40-year-old married parents’ policy. Age is not a rating factor in the state of Hawaii.

These are sample rates and should be used for comparative purposes only. Your quotes may be different.

Rates are based on 2021 data from Quadrant Information Services.

Written by
Lizzie Nealon
Insurance Writer
Lizzie Nealon is an insurance writer for Bankrate. Her favorite part of the job is making home, auto and life insurance digestible for readers so they can prepare for the future.
Edited by
Insurance Editor