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Car insurance for college students

Updated Sep 13, 2023
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Having a car while at college provides students with additional flexibility and freedom. It can also come with additional expenses, including car insurance. Whether a young driver is included in their parents' policy or has their own coverage, it's important to ensure car insurance for college students provides sufficient coverage in case of an accident. While younger drivers typically cost more to insure, there are a number of ways to find auto insurance for college students that is affordable by shopping around and seeking discounts and other rate reductions.

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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 competitive rates to college-aged drivers on their parents’ policy, according to 2023 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 rating for financial strength. The closer a company scores to five, the better it performs across each category.

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
Geico 4.4 $2,523 $4,048
State Farm 4.2 $2,689 $7,089
Progressive 4.2 $3,163 $7,088
Farmers 3.8 $2,762 $6,567
Allstate 3.8 $4,184 $7,089

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

Why we picked this carrier: Geico offers a low average full coverage rate when adding an 18-year-old college student to their parents’ car insurance policy.

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 $2,523 per year with a good 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 4.4 for its wide range of discounts and low average premiums. However, the company lost a few points for its lack of optional endorsements. Unlike some of its competitors, Geico does not offer a 24-hour helpline.

PROS

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    Offers discounts for fraternity, sorority, honor society and other membership organizations

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    Several student discounts available

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    Low average rates for college students added to their parents’ policy

CONS

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    No 24/7 helpline

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    Few optional endorsements

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 $2,689 for full coverage car insurance with a good student discount. State Farm offers 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, and combining these two discounts could 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, if you’re interested in buying accident forgiveness coverage, a State Farm policy wouldn’t be ideal. The company only offers the coverage as a perk earned by having a certain number of claim-free years on your record, which can’t be bought.

PROS

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    Low average rates for college students added to their parents’ policy

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    Good student and distant student discounts available

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    Offers a safe driving program for teens called Steer Clear

CONS

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    Gap insurance unavailable

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    Accident forgiveness can’t be purchased, only “earned”

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 $3,163 with a good student discount. In addition to the standard good student and distant student discounts, Progressive also offers Snapshot, a usage-based car insurance program — which could help lower your rate based on your driving habits. 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 tends to have lower-than-average customer satisfaction ratings according to J.D. Power.

PROS

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    Usage-based car insurance available

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    Good student and distant student discounts available

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    Offers an automatic teen discount for drivers age 18 and younger

CONS

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    Typically ranks lower than the average in J.D. Power customer satisfaction

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    Rates may differ between online and agency quotes

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 $2,762 for their insurance each year with Farmers with a good student discount applied. Farmers also offers a youthful driver discount for anyone under 25 who is a child or grandchild of a current policyholder. While Farmers scored well in terms of mobile app and policy management, the company doesn’t have 24/7 customer support and is not available nationwide.

PROS

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    Students who make the dean’s list or honor roll may be able to save

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    Several student and young driver discounts available, such as the Youthful Driver discount

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    Offers a telematics program called Signal

CONS

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    Not available nationwide

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    No 24/7 support

Why we picked this carrier: Allstate has multiple discount opportunities for college students.

Although Allstate has a high average premium for a student on their parents’ policy, college students may be able to apply discounts to bring down the cost of 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. The company’s Bankrate Score was impacted by its high premiums. However, it gained points for its A+ (Superior) AM Best financial strength rating and user-friendly policy management.

PROS

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    Money-saving programs such as Smart Student and teenSMART available

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    Several student discounts available

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    Robust digital tools

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    High average premiums

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    Fewer additional coverage options than other carriers

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

For parents sending their child off to college, there are a number of things to consider regarding insurance coverage. It may be helpful to sit down as a family and go over the policy so everyone involved understands the coverage and how to utilize it if needed.

  • Decide whether or not to keep your college student on your policy. Having a college student on your car insurance policy is likely to make the premiums increase, but it is also likely the cheapest option to provide coverage for the student. If a car is jointly owned by the student and parent, the student may be required to remain on the insurance policy. If the student owns their own car, they can get insurance in their own name, but will likely have to pay more. The student can also be added to an existing policy, which is likely to be more affordable.
  • Let your insurance provider know when your child starts college. It can be beneficial to keep your student on your insurance policy regardless of whether they are taking a car to college. They may be eligible for a student discount that offers a more affordable rate. Additionally, removing them from your coverage may result in a lapse of coverage that can lead to higher rates later on when they are added back to the policy or seek out their own insurance policy.
  • Consider your college student’s job. If a student will have a job at college that will require them to drive, whether it is as a delivery driver or for a driving service like Uber, standard car insurance will likely not be sufficient to cover those activities. Insurance providers will typically offer options for additional coverage, but it is best to reach out to your insurance company and discuss how to best make sure your student is covered by your policy.
  • Educate your child about driving a friend’s vehicle. 
  • Make sure your child understands that anyone driving their vehicle needs to have a valid license and permission to be behind the wheel of the vehicle. Otherwise, the vehicle owner would be responsible for having car insurance and paying for any costs involved (unless the driver was under the influence). Likewise, if someone drives your college student’s car and causes damages, your insurance would pay up to your coverage limits.

How can college students lower their car insurance premium?

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, you may want to get several quotes to give you an idea of what you will pay. Some other ways to save include:

Student discounts

Many car insurance companies offer discounts designed specifically for college students, such as:

Earning good grades in school demonstrates to insurers that you are responsible, making it more likely that you are a responsible driver and often earning you a discount.
Some insurers, such as Geico, offer a driver's education course that focuses on the rules of the road. Drivers can earn a discount for completing the course.
Most car insurance providers will offer a discount to student drivers while they are away at school. This may include prorating the premium for the months that the student is away from home and will not be using the vehicle.
Some insurance programs for young drivers allow students to demonstrate safe driving practices. For example, American Family has a Teen Safe Driver for drivers under age 21, and State Farm has a Steer Clear program for drivers up to age 25. Drivers may receive an insurance discount after completing these programs.

Affiliation discounts for students

It is common for insurance companies to offer discounts for students involved in certain organizations and associations. Examples include:

Some insurance companies, like Geico, offer car insurance discounts to students participating in fraternities, sororities and honor societies.
Graduates of universities, whether you've completed a two-year or four-year degree, are often eligible for a discount.
The children of veterans and military members are often eligible for savings via military discounts. Some insurers like USAA are only available to military members and their families, but most insurance companies offer discounts to military members.

Other ways to save

In addition to student and affiliation discounts, there are other ways college students can help lower car insurance premiums using these additional savings programs:

  • Lower your mileage: The less time a driver spends on the road, the less likely they are to get into an accident. That’s why many insurance providers will offer lower premiums to those who drive fewer miles.
  • Drive a used car: New cars are often more expensive to purchase and more expensive to maintain. That may include higher insurance premiums, as well. Used cars are typically less expensive and can be easier to repair than new cars. You may also earn lower premiums if the car has extra safety features such as anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking.
  • Explore pay-as-you-go insurance: Some insurance providers offer pay-per-mile insurance or telematics systems that track driving. When you drive less, the car insurance company may offer lower rates on your premiums.
  • Car additions: You can make additions to your vehicle that can make your car safer and ultimately save you money on insurance costs.
    • Dash cams: Dash cameras may not reduce your car insurance rates or premiums, but they are likely to help you prove your case after an accident, which can save you money. Discounts for dash cams aren’t common, but you may find a carrier that offers one.
    • Navigation systems: GPS navigation systems can help you safely navigate while driving, which can ultimately lead to safer driving and more affordable rates over time.
    • Anti-theft device: Car alarms and other anti-theft devices are likely to prevent thefts and can result in a discount or lowered premium if your provider offers a discount.

Ways to save on driving

Between gas,vehicle maintenance and insurance premiums, the cost of driving can add up quickly. Here are some ways to save. 

How to save on gas

Gas can be pricey, especially if you drive often. Here are some ways to lower your gas costs:

  • Choose a car with good gas mileage: Commuting between home and school can become expensive for college students. Choosing a car with excellent gas mileage can make a big difference and may easily save hundreds of dollars each year. 
  • Use a rideshare service: Students may want to consider occasionally group ridesharing with other students using services like Uber and Lyft, where you split the cost of the ride.
  • Utilize public transportation: Using buses, trains or subways may be cheaper for students and these are usually accessible at most colleges or universities.
  • Invest in a bicycle: A bicycle is a great option to consider, especially for students in urban areas. In populated areas, there are usually options for low-cost bike sharing or rentals.
  • Carpool with your classmates or colleagues: If you must drive, consider setting up a carpool or car-sharing arrangement with classmates or colleagues who live along your route. They will probably appreciate the opportunity to save money and it gives you the added benefit of some company during the commute. Just be sure to talk to your insurer if you’re exchanging money for gas and maintenance, to make sure you’re still covered.
  • Get a gas rewards card: Gas rewards cards can offer discounts on gas. Sometimes, rewards programs offer partnerships with other businesses like grocery stores so purchases earn points that can be redeemed for discounts on gas.
  • Find the cheapest gas stations close to the campus: Gas prices often fluctuate and you can use tools or apps that will point you to the gas station with the cheapest price available.
  • Utilize campus shuttle service if possible: Many universities have a shuttle service that will help students get from campus to popular locations through the city. Look up the shuttle schedule and determine when you can use it to save a trip.

How to save on maintenance

Maintenance costs should be factored into buying a vehicle as well, as they can be a large portion of your car budget. Here are some tips to save on maintenance:

  • Find car deals for new graduates: Some car manufacturers offer discounts and purchase deals for college students or graduates who are purchasing a new car. There may also be leasing options available for students who are not purchasing a vehicle.
  • Ask about student savings programs for oil changes: When getting car maintenance done, such as going in for an oil change, ask if a student discount is available. Some large chains, including Jiffy Lube, do offer discounts for college students.
  • Utilize free tire and air fill-up services: You can often find free or cheap self-service tools at gas stations, including air for tires. Keeping your tires properly inflated can improve your car's performance.
  • Research DIY repairs: It may be worth it to learn how to do simple car maintenance at home to save money on parts and high labor costs. However, before attempting them, it’s worth researching potential safety hazards so that you can avoid complications:
    • Change the battery.
    • Change the oil.
    • Change your spark plugs.
    • Replace tail lights or headlights.
    • Swap out windshield wipers.

Frequently asked questions

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2023 rates for ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Rates are weighted based on the population density in each geographic region. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean 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 coverage that meets each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2021 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually. 

These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes. 

Age: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with age 18 (base: 40 years) applied. The 18-year-old driver on their own policy is a renter. Age is not a contributing rating factor in Hawaii and Massachusetts due to state regulations.

Written by
AJ Dellinger
Contributor, Personal Finance

AJ Dellinger is a contributing writer for Bankrate. AJ writes about auto loans and real estate.

Edited by Editor, Insurance
Reviewed by Director of corporate communications, Insurance Information Institute