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Getting Cheap Car Insurance for College Students

Looking at per-mile insurance and leaving the car at home are just two of the ways young drivers can save on auto policies.
June 28, 2019
Auto Insurance, Insurance
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Car insurance for college students is easy to find, but it’s not cheap. Adding an 18-year-old to a married couple’s policy adds $1,537 per year on average, according to a NerdWallet analysis. That would more than double the cost of the couple’s policy alone, of $1,443 per year on average. Savings are available, but options and discounts vary, so if you’re a student with a car, you’ll want to shop around to see which auto insurer is cheapest for you.

The costs of car insurance for college students also vary widely depending on:

  • Whether you remain on your parents’ policy or get a separate one.
  • Whether you bring the car with you.
  • How far school is from your home (if you’re leaving your car behind).
  • The car you’re driving (if you bring it to school) and whether you’ve had any accidents or moving violations.

Whatever you do, it’s best to avoid letting your car insurance lapse, even if you’re not bringing a car to school. Once you need a policy again, insurers might consider you a high-risk driver, charge a lot more or deny coverage due to lapses. Here’s how to stay insured and save.

Stay on your parents’ policy

You can typically stay on your parents’ policy as long as your permanent address is the same.

As a college student, insurers will typically allow you to stay on your parents’ policy as long as your permanent address stays the same as theirs. Should you need a separate policy, bear in mind that it’s the vehicle’s owner who’s responsible for insuring it, so you may need to transfer the title if it’s in either of your parents’ names.

By staying on your parents’ policy, you can benefit from their established driving and credit records, in addition to discounts for having multiple drivers on one policy. Additionally, if your college is in a more rural area than your parents’ address, the overall rate might be lower than it was while you were in high school if you bring your car with you.

Don’t bring your car to campus

Many companies offer car insurance discounts for students more than 100 miles away from home who don’t bring a vehicle to college. By taking this option, you can avoid a lapse in coverage but pay less than if you were bringing your vehicle to campus.

By leaving the car behind, you’ll also reduce your risk of getting tickets or causing accidents that increase your premiums. This can keep down costs in the long run, because your driving history over the past three to five years is one of the most important factors auto insurers look at when setting rates. As you have more accident- and ticket-free driving years under your belt, your insurance rates will go down.

Consider per-mile insurance

Miles driven are typically tracked by either a mobile app or a device that plugs into your car’s diagnostic port.

College campuses offer a lot of convenience. Having meals, classes and recreational facilities all in one area reduces the need to drive, especially if you’re living in dorms. Still, a part-time job or the urge to explore your new surroundings may require some mobility, and per-mile insurance just might be the cheapest.

Metromile is an insurance company that only offers per-mile insurance, where you pay a monthly base rate and then a per-mile charge, so the less you drive the less you pay. Miles are typically tracked by either a mobile app or a device that plugs into your car’s diagnostic port. A drive home for the holidays won’t break the bank — miles over 250 in one day (or 150 for New Jersey residents) are free. Allstate, Esurance, Nationwide and Mile Auto all offer per-mile insurance in select states.

Check for student and affiliation discounts

If you can keep your grades up, you’ll be eligible for a good student discount from any one of the 10 largest insurance companies, depending on availability in your state. Some insurers go a bit further, offering discounts for being on the honor roll or having certain affiliations.

» COMPARE: Car insurance discounts for students

In particular, Geico offers discounts for members of 80 different fraternities and 15 honor societies, plus many affiliation discounts with colleges and alumni associations. Geico often has cheap rates for younger people compared with other large insurers, but rates are very individual, so you’ll want to get at least three insurance quotes to find which company would be cheapest for you.

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