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Car insurance for college students

A mother and daughter hug next to their car as the college season begins.
XiXinXing/Getty Images
A mother and daughter hug next to their car as the college season begins.
XiXinXing/Getty Images
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The risk of involvement in a car accident is highest among drivers between ages 16 and 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, teen drivers in this age group are almost three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than drivers aged 20 and older. Car insurance providers account for the added risk of insuring a teen driver by raising the teen’s premium.

If you’re a teen driver or you have a teen driver listed on your policy, you may be looking for ways to save. The good news is that some companies offer cheaper average rates than others for college students. In addition, several companies offer competitive student discounts.

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).

Each company is listed with its Bankrate Score, which shows how well each insurance provider performs overall, on a scale from zero to five. Our team assigns Bankrate Scores through objectively analyzing each company’s average premiums, coverage offerings, discount options, complaints filed with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), mobile app, J.D. Power score for customer service and AM Best score for financial strength.

Average annual full coverage car insurance rates for college students

(Student rates reflect the added cost to their parents’ premium, rather than total cost)

Company Bankrate Score Full coverage student rate Distant student discount rate Good student discount rate Both discount rates
Allstate 4.0 out of 5 $2,202 $2,179 $1,810 $1,800
Farmers 3.8 out of 5 $2,118 $2,068 $1,786 $1,718
Geico 4.7 out of 5 $1,519 $1,501 $1,269 $1,269
Progressive 4.4 out of 5 $1,727 $1,692 $1,514 $1,514
State Farm 4.7 out of 5 $ 1,615 $1,626 $1,187 $1,187

Allstate | Bankrate Score 4.0 out of 5

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

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. According to our data, 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. 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. The company’s Bankrate Score was impacted negatively by its high premiums, high number of NAIC complaints and mediocre mobile app. However, it gained points for its AM Best score of A+ (Excellent) and satisfactory policy management.

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.
The company has the second-lowest Bankrate Score on our list.

Learn more: Allstate insurance review

Farmers | Bankrate Score 3.8 out of 5

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, the second highest rate on our list. Note that this rate reflects the added cost of a teen joining their parents’ policy. 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. 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 also offers a youthful driver discount for anyone under 25 who is a child or grandchild of a policyholder. Before purchasing a policy with Farmers, consider that the company received the lowest Bankrate Score on our list. While Farmers scored well in terms of mobile app and policy management, the company lost points for receiving a high number of complaints with the NAIC and having high average premiums.

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.
The company received more than average complaints filed with the NAIC.

Learn more: Farmers insurance review

Geico | Bankrate Score 4.7 out of 5

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.

If you’re looking for cheap car insurance, you may want to get a quote from Geico. Geico’s average annual cost for full coverage car insurance for 18-year-olds on their parents’ policy is $1,519, the lowest rate on our list. By taking advantage of distant student and good student discounts, the average student rate comes down to $1,269 per year for full coverage. College students may also be able to get other discounts to bring down the cost of the auto policy. Geico also offers discounts for membership in several organizations. The company received a high Bankrate Score of 4.7 for its wide range of discounts and low average premiums. However, the company lost a few points for its lack of gap coverage and high number of complaints filed with the NAIC. And, unlike some of its competitors, Geico does not offer a 24-hour helpline.

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.
Geico does not offer gap coverage.
The company received more complaints than average filed with the NAIC.

Learn more: Geico insurance review

Progressive | Bankrate Score 4.4 out of 5

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. 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. We awarded the company a high Bankrate Score for its exceptionally wide range of coverage options, plentiful discounts and seamless online policy management. However, the company received many more complaints than average according to the NAIC, and received a relatively low mobile app score from our team.

Progressive’s car insurance pros and cons for college students

Pros Cons
Some college students drive infrequently.
Progressive allows 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.
The company received more complaints filed with the NAIC than average.

Learn more: Progressive insurance review

State Farm | Bankrate Score 4.7 out of 5

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, the second lowest rate on our list. 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 away from their primary residence without a car may also be eligible for a distant student discount. Combining its good student and distant student discounts results in the lowest average premium on our list. The company received one of the highest Bankrate Scores on our list for its low average premiums, accessible mobile app and excellent online policy management. However, the company lost a few points for having fewer than average coverage options and more than average complaints filed with the NAIC.

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.
State Farm received more than average complaints filed with the NAIC.

Learn more: State Farm insurance review

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

Before sending your child off to college, it may be helpful to go over these car insurance best practices.

  • Decide whether or not to keep your college student on your policy. Keeping your college student 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. If a college student owns their vehicle, they must have auto insurance in their name.
  • Let your insurance provider know when your child starts college. 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. If your student will not drive at college, it is likely still a good idea to keep them on your auto policy. If they are uninsured, that lapse of coverage may result in higher rates when they are ready to drive later.
  • Consider your college student’s job. If your child is 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.
  • Educate your child about driving a friend’s vehicle. 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 unless the vehicle was driven without permission, without a valid license or under the influence. Likewise, if someone drives your college student’s car and causes damages, your insurance would pay up to your coverage limit, but your rates would also likely increase.

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 want to consider purchasing the following coverage types to help protect their family’s finances.

  • Renters insurance: Your college student may or may not be covered under your home or renter’s insurance policy, so you may want to check with your insurance agent. This insurance could help pay to repair or replace damaged or stolen items, or pay out if a guest is injured in your child’s space. It could also provide funds for living expenses if a student’s off-campus apartment or rental home becomes uninhabitable while repairs are made after a covered loss.
  • 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, which is usually inexpensive and only stays in effect for a certain number of years. If you want to purchase a life insurance policy for your adult child, you will need their consent.

Frequently asked questions

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 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 or Massachusetts.

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

Written by
Lizzie Nealon
Insurance Writer
Lizzie Nealon is a former 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