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Car insurance for college students
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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 parents’ 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 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|
*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.
Offers discounts for fraternity, sorority, honor society and other membership organizations
Several student discounts available
Low average rates for college students added to their parents’ policy
No 24/7 helpline
Few optional endorsements
Learn more: Geico insurance review
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.
Low average rates for college students added to their parents’ policy
Good student and distant student discounts available
Offers a safe driving program for teens called Steer Clear
Gap insurance unavailable
Accident forgiveness can’t be purchased, only “earned”
Learn more: State Farm insurance review
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.
Usage-based car insurance available
Good student and distant student discounts available
Offers an automatic teen discount for drivers age 18 and younger
Typically ranks lower than the average in J.D. Power customer satisfaction
Rates may differ between online and agency quotes
Learn more: Progressive insurance review
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.
Students who make the dean’s list or honor roll may be able to save
Several student and young driver discounts available, such as the Youthful Driver discount
Offers a telematics program called Signal
Not available nationwide
No 24/7 support
Learn more: Farmers insurance review
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.
Money-saving programs such as Smart Student and teenSMART available
Several student discounts available
Robust digital tools
High average premiums
Fewer additional coverage options than other carriers
Learn more: Allstate 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 may need to have auto insurance in their name, or be added as a named insured or additional insured on the parents’ policy, rather than just a driver.
- 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 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:
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.Another way to save money on car insurance is to complete a driver’s education course. For example, drivers with a Geico insurance policy could save by completing a defensive driving course to refresh their memory on the rules of the road.You could save money by leaving your car at home when you are away at school. Most car insurance carriers will discount your rate if you a a certain number of miles away without a car, prorating your premium to reflect the months you are away at school and not using your vehicle.Students can often save by demonstrating their safe driving practices through insurance programs designed for young drivers. For instance, there are savings programs like American Family’s Teen Safe Driver, for drivers under age 21, and State Farm’s Steer Clear program, for young drivers up to age 25. After completing the program, drivers could get a discount on their car insurance.
Affiliation discounts for students
Many insurance companies also offer discounts for students who participate in certain organizations or associations, such as:Geico offers car insurance discounts for fraternities, sororities and even honor societies, along with an extensive list of other organizations.Some companies may offer discounts if you are an alumni of a certain university or even if you’ve simply completed a two- or four-year degree.If a parent is a veteran or military member, you might save extra money on your car insurance through military discounts. As a military-only provider, USAA is one option for military discounts for your car insurance, but a few other companies offer military discounts, too, such as Geico, The General and Liberty Mutual.
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: When you spend less time on the road, there’s a lower risk of accidents happening, so many carriers will offer lower car insurance premiums to drivers who rack up fewer miles.
- Drive a used car: Newer cars may be more expensive to repair or replace, so rates could be higher. A used car is generally cheaper to fix and may qualify you for lower car insurance premiums than a new car. Driving a vehicle with extra safety features is another way to potentially earn lower premiums, so explore models with safety features like anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking.
- Explore pay-as-you-go insurance: Instead of paying full price for car insurance, you might be able to sign up for pay-per-mile insurance, which monitors your driving and charges your car insurance accordingly. It’s a popular option with several car insurance companies: Allstate offers its Milewise program and Nationwide has its SmartMiles program.
- Car additions: Some additions and upgrades may make your car safer and help you save money on car insurance premiums.
- Dash cams: Dash cameras could help reduce car insurance rates by reducing the likelihood of crime involving your vehicle and also protecting you against false liability claims that could cost your insurer money. Discounts for dash cams aren’t common, but you may find a carrier that offers one.
- Navigation systems: A GPS navigation system can help keep you feel more prepared when driving, helping you drive slower and more safely, which could translate to lower rates.
- Anti-theft device: A car alarm or other anti-theft device may earn you extra discounts by lowering the risk of theft or vandalism.
Ways to save on driving
Driving can be expensive, especially so for college students on tight budgets. Keeping transportation costs low can help students afford to keep their cars and maintain insurance on the vehicle. Here are some ways to save on gas and vehicle maintenance.
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: College students often commute between home and school, so a car with excellent gas mileage can easily save hundreds of dollars each year.
- Use a rideshare service: Using rideshare services like Uber and Lyft can help you save on gas costs, and may be especially cost-effective if you opt for group ridesharing, where you split the cost with others.
- Utilize public transportation: Public transportation can almost entirely eliminate transportation expenses. Buses, trains or subways are often a fraction of the cost of driving and are usually accessible at most colleges or universities.
- Invest in a bicycle: A bicycle can be an even better substitute for public transportation, especially for students in urban areas. Using a personal bicycle is free after purchase, and there are also typically lots of options for low-cost bike sharing or rentals in more populated areas.
- 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.
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: Many car manufacturers offer special purchase deals for current college students or recent graduates to buy a new car. There may also be short-term leasing specials available for students for those not ready to purchase a vehicle.
- Ask about student savings programs for oil changes: Another potential place to save is regular oil changes. College students can burn through many miles and require more frequent oil changes, but many of the larger chains, such as Jiffy Lube, offer students discounts.
- Utilize free tire and air fill-up services: To save extra money on diagnostic and professional services, check your tire pressure yourself. Most gas stations offer free or cheap stations to check tire pressure and add air if necessary.
- Research DIY repairs: There are several basic car repairs that can be done at home. Learning how to do essential maintenance can save money on parts and high labor costs. It will also save time to repair the car on your own schedule. These basic repairs are easy to learn and can save hundreds of dollars. 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
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.