Cheap Car Insurance for College Students

You might be able to save some cash on car insurance when in college with these tips and strategies.
Ben MooreMar 5, 2021

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Congratulations! You’ve graduated from high school and are heading off to college. But your list of expenses is starting to grow with tuition, books and on-campus housing, and you’re looking for ways to cut costs. Is it possible to get cheap car insurance as a college student?

The answer is yes, but you'll have to weigh your options and shop around for the best discounts. Here are a few ways college students can find cheap insurance.

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Stay on your parents’ insurance

In most cases, staying on your parents’ car insurance policy will yield the cheapest rates. Insurers hike up rates for young adults because they have shorter driving histories and greater probability of getting into an accident. By remaining on your parents' policy instead of getting your own, you can take advantage of their lower rates and multiple drivers or loyalty discounts.

As a college student, insurers will likely allow you to stay on your parents’ policy as long as your permanent address is the same as theirs, but if you plan to live near campus year-round, you may need to get your own coverage.

If your parents have a history of traffic violations and accidents on their driving record, it’s possible that buying your own policy could be less expensive. And since insurers consider ZIP codes to price rates, a standalone policy could be cheaper if your parents live in a city and your college is in a rural or suburban area. Keep in mind that the title of the car needs to be in your name, not your parents’, if you plan to buy your own policy.

Reconsider collision and comprehensive coverage

If you’re planning on driving an old car to college, make sure to not overinsure it with collision and comprehensive coverage you don’t need. These types of coverage pay out only up to the cash value of the car, minus the deductible. If your car’s value is $1,000 and you also have a $1,000 deductible, you’re better off dropping collision and comprehensive insurance.

Try usage-based car insurance

College campuses offer a lot of conveniences that may reduce your need for a car, which means usage-based insurance could save you money.

With this kind of insurance, you pay only for the miles you drive, and some of these insurers — like Metromile and Nationwide’s Smartmiles — don’t charge after 250 miles or more, so you can take day trips without paying extra.

Some insurance companies, like Geico and Progressive, offer programs that price rates based on your driving habits, such as speeding and hard braking, monitored by a mobile app or tracking device in your car’s diagnostic port. These programs typically result in a discounted rate, but if you’re an aggressive driver, your rate could increase.

Ask about car insurance discounts for students

Depending on your state and insurance company, you could be eligible for a variety of discounts while you’re off at school. Here are some common college student car insurance discounts.

Good student. If you’re a full-time student who gets good grades (typically a B average or higher), has high standardized test scores or are on your school’s dean’s list or honor roll, many insurers offer discounts. You’ll need to provide school transcripts or test scores and be within the age requirements.

Student away from home. If your college is more than 100 miles away, consider leaving the car at home. Some insurers offer discounts to college students who drive the family car only when they’re home for breaks or holidays. Plus, by leaving the car behind, you’ll reduce your risk of getting tickets or causing accidents that increase your premiums, which can keep your insurance costs down in the long run.

Fraternity, sorority and honor society. If you’re a member of a qualified fraternity, sorority or honor society, you may be eligible for a discount.

Military. If you’re part of an ROTC program, you could get a discount on car insurance.

Student and alumni organizations. Discounts may be available to members of college organizations, such as the American Medical Student Association, or alumni associations.

Safe driving. While this discount won’t take effect until you’ve proven yourself a safe driver for at least three to five years, avoiding traffic violations and car accidents could mean a discount.

Young driver training. If you complete an educational program to improve your driving skills and are within an allowed age range, some insurers will provide a discount.

Young volunteer. You could qualify for a discount if you complete a required number of volunteer hours and are within the age requirements.

College student discounts from the 10 largest car insurance companies are in the table below.

College student discount

Which of the 10 largest car insurers offer it

Good student

Allstate, American Family, Farmers, Geico, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, Progressive, State Farm, Travelers and USAA*

Student away from home

Allstate, American Family, Liberty Mutual, Progressive, State Farm and Travelers

Fraternity and sorority

Geico

Military

Geico, Liberty Mutual and USAA*

Student organizations

Geico

Safe driving

American Family, Geico, Nationwide, State Farm and Travelers

Young driver training

Allstate, Geico, Travelers and USAA*

Young volunteer

American Family

*USAA is available only to military, veterans and their families.

with Insure.com

See what you could save on car insurance

Easily compare personalized rates to see how much switching car insurance could save you.

on Insure.com

Finding cheap car insurance for college students

Rates for college students can be expensive, but generally decrease as you get older and practice safe driving. If you do plan to purchase your own insurance policy, don’t pick the first company you come across — shop around and compare quotes to ensure you get the cheapest rate available.

To see what rates college-age drivers can expect, NerdWallet analyzed annual car insurance rates nationwide for young adult drivers with no tickets or traffic violations, for both minimum and full coverage policies. Take a look at the table below to see average rates for your age, and how rates can decrease as you get older.

Age

Average annual minimum coverage rate

Average annual full coverage rate

18

$2,006

$4,885

19

$1,509

$3,761

20

$1,354

$3,426

21

$1,051

$2,683

22

$956

$2,460

23

$890

$2,307

24

$843

$2,189

The cheapest car insurance company for any one college student will depend on factors beyond your age, including the state your school is in, your driving history and how much coverage you plan to buy.

NerdWallet analyzed rates for an 18-year-old driver with a good driving history for nine of the largest car insurance companies by market share. Take a look at the table below to see how much you can expect to pay for your own policy as a new college student.

Company

Average annual minimum coverage rate

Average annual full coverage rate

$1,756

$5,516

$1,771

$3,532

$2,753

$7,163

$1,096

$2,969

$2,221

$4,158

$2,684

$7,134

$1,647

$4,183

$2,349

$4,987

$1,090

$2,828

*USAA is available only to military, veterans and their families.

Frequently asked questions

An 18-year-old college student with their own insurance policy can pay an average of just over $2,000 a year for minimum required car insurance. To pay less, stay on your parents’ policy, as their longer driving history usually results in cheaper insurance.

If you’re going to a college out of state, tell your insurance company. State laws vary, and the new state may require college students to have their own insurance policy.

It’s best to maintain continuous coverage to avoid letting your car insurance end, even if you’re not bringing a car to school. If it does lapse and you need a policy again, insurers might consider you a high-risk driver and charge a lot more, so stay on your parents’ policy if you can. If that’s not an option, consider purchasing a nonowner insurance policy, which will insure you at your state’s minimum liability limits if you drive someone else’s car.

Methodology

NerdWallet averaged insurance estimates from the largest insurers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., for single male and female drivers with good credit and no tickets or violations. For full coverage insurance, we used the following 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 coverage per person.

  • $300,000 uninsured motorist coverage per accident.

  • Collision coverage with a $1,000 deductible.

  • Comprehensive coverage with a $1,000 deductible.

In states where required, minimum additional coverages were added. Some policies include additional coverages at the insurer’s discretion.

For drivers with minimum coverage, we adjusted the numbers above to reflect minimum required coverage by law in the state.

We used a 2017 Toyota Camry LE for all drivers and assumed 12,000 annual miles driven.

We analyzed rates for drivers of the following ages: 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24.

These are rates generated through Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.

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