If you’re prepping for college, you may be wondering about bringing your car. Perhaps you live off-campus, and bringing your auto with you can help you take advantage of cheaper groceries on the other side of town. Maybe you are considering regularly visiting friends and family on the other side of the state, or you’re hoping to avoid riding your bike to class in the rain.
If any of these scenarios ring true, you may want to consider what you will do about car insurance. The vast majority of US states require some auto insurance, and while some students attending college locally can keep their current policy, many can’t. Therefore, it’s best to do your due diligence about what insurance costs and whether you can afford it beforehand. Luckily, many discounts are available to college students so long as you know what to look for.
Car Insurance Discounts for College Students
First, some good news— the older you get, the less you generally pay for auto insurance. Teens’ rates are among the highest for auto insurance, increasing policy rates by 50 to 100%. While a claims- and accident-free record can lower rates as a teen gets older, even an 18-year-old college student can save in a few specific ways.
Many factors influence car insurance costs, including where you live, your driving history, and the vehicle itself. One way to lower premiums is by finding policy discounts. Here are a few to ask about—but remember that discount availability and percentage can vary by state or policy.
College Student Discounts
This discount may go by several names, including a resident student discount, non-resident student discount, or student away discount. There are three conditions you usually must meet to qualify:
- Distance: Usually available to students who’ve moved at least 100 miles away
- Age: Students usually must be under a certain age, such as 22 or 25
- Auto: The student must not be taking the family car to school or driving while at school
Please note that if you purchase this variety of discount, many insurers require that a student doesn’t drive any car while away at school. Therefore, if you plan to use your vehicle on campus, this policy might not suit you.
Good Grade Discounts
Insurers assume that if you’re putting that effort into your grades, you’re probably not getting into accidents after parties and may be a more responsible driver. Usually, you’ll need to be a full-time college or university student under a certain age, such as 24. Depending on the insurer, there may be a few ways to qualify:
- Previous quarter or semester average of 3.0 or a B
- Ranked in the top 20% of your class or on standardized tests
- Included on the honor roll or similar school-issued achievement list
This program may also be called a “smart student discount” or a “good student discount.” Discounts could range from 10% to 25% off insurance costs.
Multiple Policy Discount
Most insurers offer a discount if you have home and auto insurance (or perhaps renters’ and auto insurance). Still, not quite as many offer a discount if you’re insuring multiple cars. Discounts vary widely from 4%-5% but may go up to 23% for an auto-plus-home policy combo.
Anti-theft Device Discount
Anti-theft device discount applies to cars with the following characteristics:
- Car alarm
- Disabling devices
- Electronic tracking device
- Window glass etching
Most insurers offer varying savings for this discount, which could be for factory-installed anti-theft devices and/or ones you add to your system.
Driver’s Education and Training Programs Discount
Defensive driving courses, otherwise known as traffic school, teach people to avoid typical driving hazards in a controlled, safe manner. While usually the consequence of a moving violation, those who take a seminar in defensive driving voluntarily can potentially see some discounts on their monthly insurance premiums.
Each state and insurer’s regulations on the matter differ, so the regulations from each respective institution affect if and how much a defensive driving course affects your rates.
Affiliation Discounts for Students
You might save on auto insurance if you’re involved with the campus organizations such as sororities or honor societies. You could also save by joining your alumni organization after you graduate or work for the university. Additionally, you might save money if you’re a military service member.
Sorority, Fraternity, and Honors Society Discounts
Some insurers offer discounts to members of specific fraternities, sororities, and honor societies. However, discount availability may depend upon your zip code or location. Some sororities and fraternities may also have their own insurance coverage for specific vehicle uses.
University and Alumni Discounts
Insurers may offer special discounts or savings to students who work at or graduated from specific schools or college conferences (such as the Ivy League athletic conference). No sorority, frat, or honors society membership is required, although you may need to be a current alumni member. You might save up to 22% through an affinity alumni discount like this.
Many veterans attend college after their military service ends. A handful of insurers offer military discounts to students; however, serving in the military could qualify you for insurers that non-military members can’t join. These insurers may feature lower rates or special military accommodations. Military service discounts could be around 15% or more if storing your vehicle on base.
Should College Students Have Their Own Auto Insurance Policy?
Whether you should have your own policy depends on your situation—what’s a frugal choice for one college student isn’t practical for others. For example, a college student with a history of accidents may pay more on a solo policy than staying on the parental policy. But if you’re living far from home in a town or city with accessible bus service or bike lanes, you may not need a car at all while going to school. Therefore, a parental policy accommodating a “student away” discount could be a smart move.
Take the following into account when considering getting your own auto insurance policy as a student.
Where Will You Be Living?
If you live at home and continue driving the family car or keep your vehicle at your parents’ house, splitting insurance costs with your parents is likely less expensive than getting your own policy.
However, suppose you park your car at a shared off-campus house in another state. You’ll likely need to get your own policy with different state-required minimum insurance coverage.
Your college year can impact the situation, too. Depending on the school, first-year students could be required to live on campus and may not be allowed to bring a car onto campus. Paying for separate coverage could be unnecessary.
Whose Name Is on the Car Title?
You may need your own auto insurance policy if you have a car titled in your name. But if you’re still driving mom or dad’s old car, and the title is in their names, you’ll need to stay on their insurance policy. The name on the auto’s title indicates who’s responsible for any auto-caused damages.
How Students Can Lower Their Car Insurance Premiums
Because many college students focus on their studies and work only part-time jobs, any extra expenditures could profoundly affect their overall budget. Consider the following when shopping for car insurance to get the best deal possible:
- Comparison-shop between insurers and ensure you get the best rate incorporating the above-mentioned discounts. Switching insurers could save you hundreds of dollars.
- Investigate pay-per-mile or other mileage-based policies, if you’re driving fewer miles while on campus
- Check out telematics app-based programs that monitor your driving habits and safety, which can provide savings.
- Insurer-provided apps give driving tips, training, and feedback aimed at teens and young adults, although you may need a clean record to qualify.
- Increase your deductible to a higher amount.
- Reduce or remove your comprehensive and collision coverage, mainly if your car isn’t worth much.
- Drive safely and avoid claims, accidents, and incidents like speeding tickets and DUIs, which can increase your rates.
- Avoid driving cars with turbo engines or other performance cars, which can add 10% to your premium.
- Pay your policy premium in full versus in payments.