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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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If you’re moving away for college and planning to bring a car, remember to check how this change might impact your car insurance. You might need to purchase your own car insurance policy, for example, or you may be able to stay on your parent’s policy if you meet certain conditions. Having the right coverage in place can help ensure you’re covered in case of an accident.

If you’re a teen driver or you have a teen driver listed on your policy, you might also be looking for ways to save. Adding a younger driver can make car insurance more expensive, but 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 selected five top car insurance providers that offer lower-than-average rates to college-aged drivers on their parents’ policy, according to 2022 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 five-point scale. Our team calculates Bankrate Scores by 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. The closer a company scores to five, the better it performs across each category.

Average annual full coverage car insurance rates for college students

Insurance company Bankrate Score Average full coverage premium with a student discount on their parents’ policy Average full coverage premium without a student discount on their own policy
State Farm 4.7 $2,470 $3,812
Geico 4.7 $2,409 $3,877
Progressive 4.4 $2,991 $6,600
Allstate 4 $3,889 $6,538
Farmers 3.8 $2,584 $6,048

*Rates calculated for 18-year-olds students, either on their parent’s policy with a student discount applied or on their own policy without a student discount applied.

State Farm | Bankrate Score 4.7 out of 5

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

Parents with 18-year-old students on their State Farm auto policy pay an average annual cost of $2,470 for full coverage car insurance with a good student discount, 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 would result in an even lower premium. 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 a higher number of complaints filed with the NAIC.

Perks Drawbacks
Second-lowest full coverage premium on our list, without discounts Gap insurance unavailable
Good student and distant student discounts available Higher number of customer complaints filed with the NAIC

Learn more: State Farm insurance review

Geico | Bankrate Score 4.7 out of 5

Why we picked this carrier: Geico offers the lowest average annual full coverage rate when adding an 18-year-old 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 $2,409 per year with a student discount. College students may also be able to qualify for other discounts to further bring down the cost, like Geico’s 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 above-baseline number of complaints filed with the NAIC. Unlike some of its competitors, Geico does not offer a 24-hour helpline.

Perks Drawbacks
Discounts for more than 500 membership groups. No 24/7 helpline
Good student and distant student discounts available Gap insurance unavailable
Higher number of customer complaints 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 of full coverage car insurance for 18-year-olds on their parents’ policy is $2,991 with a student discount. 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 — which many college students may qualify for. The company earns a high Bankrate Score for its exceptionally wide range of coverage options, plentiful discounts and seamless online policy management. However, the company received more customer complaints than the national baseline according to the NAIC.

Perks Drawbacks
Usage-based car insurance available Progressive typically ranks lower than the average in J.D. Power customer satisfaction
Good student and distant student discounts available Higher number of customer complaints filed with the NAIC

Learn more: Progressive insurance review

Allstate | Bankrate Score 4.0 out of 5

Why we picked this carrier: Allstate has multiple 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. College students who can maintain a GPA of at least 2.7 may qualify for a good student discount, which is more generous than many other insurers’ good student discount qualifications. 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 and high number of NAIC complaints. However, it gained points for its A+ (Excellent) AM Best financial strength rating and user-friendly policy management.

Perks Drawbacks
Money-saving programs such as Smart Student and teenSMART available Highest premiums for full coverage insurance on our list
Distant student discount available 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 several discount opportunities to students.

Parents with 18-year-old college students on their policy pay an average of $2,584 for their insurance each year with Farmers with a student discount applied. Farmers also offers a youthful driver discount for anyone under 25 who is a child or grandchild of a current 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 having higher-than-average premiums.

Perks Drawbacks
Students who make the dean’s list or honor roll may be able to save. Second-highest full coverage premium on our list for 18-year-olds on their own policy
Several student and young driver discounts available, such as the Youthful Driver discount Higher number of customer complaints filed with the NAIC

Learn more: Farmers 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 2022 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 2020 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 total cost when added 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
June Sham
Insurance Writer
June Sham is an insurance writer for Bankrate. Before joining the team, she worked for nearly three years as a licensed producer writing auto, property, umbrella and earthquake policies.
Edited by
Insurance Editor