Choosing the best car insurance for college students depends on a lot of factors. For example, who owns the car, where the young driver lives and how often he or she drives all come into play when determining auto insurance coverage for students.

That is, you’re wondering if you can stay on your parents’ policy or if you have to get your own? Or maybe you’re wondering if you can or should drop coverage all together – since you’re going to college and your car is staying home. And you’ll want to know who has the most affordable rates and best discounts.

Generally, as you would expect, it really depends on the situation. If you’re attending college, your insurance needs will vary dramatically depending on your exact situation. So if you have college-aged car insurance questions, good. Because we have some answers.

Key Highlights
  • College students with good grades can avail themselves of 5% to 25% discount depending on the insurance company.
  • Make sure to compare insurance quotes from at least three insurers to save on your auto insurance for students.
  • It's recommended that if you live with your parents and attend school in-state, you should stay on their insurance policy instead of getting your own.
  • If you go to college and drives a car with your name on the title, you should get a car insurance policy of your own.

Best car insurance for college students

The editorial staff of CarInsurance.com researched insurance companies that offer student discounts and other savings for young drivers to find the best car insurance for students.

Here is a list of major carriers and the discounts they offer for college-age drivers:

AAA:

In addition to coverage and discounts, AAA members also get 24-hour roadside assistance.

  • Driver training: 5%
  • Good student discount: 14%
  • Student away: up to 30%

Allstate:

There are three ways to qualify for savings, if under the age of 25 and unmarried.

  • Good student discount: up to 20% for getting good grades.
  • teenSMART discount: up to 10% when your teen successfully completes the teenSMART driver education program
  • Defensive driver discount: Drivers who are 25 years old, have completed six or more hours of defensive driving courses and have no violations and no at-fault claims can save up to 10%.

American Family:

  • Good student discount: Discount percentages will vary based on certain factors, but generally is up to 10%
  • Student away discount: This auto insurance discount is designed for existing customers with drivers up to 24 years old, who attend school without the insured vehicles and are 100 or more miles away from their homes. Discount percentages vary.
  • Teen Safe Driver Program: Though it has “teen” in the title, drivers up to age 21 who qualify can save up to 10%.

Auto-Owners:

  • Good student discount: up to 20%
  • Student away: up to 25%

Geico:

  • Good student: up to 15%

Liberty Mutual:

  • Teen driver discount: Teen driver discounts are offered that can keep your rates down while rewarding your teen for responsible driving.
  • Good student discount: Students who are under the age of 25 and achieve at least a B average get special savings on car insurance.

State Farm:

  • Good student discount: up to 25%
  • Student away: Qualify for this if a student under the age of 25 moves away to school and only uses the car while at home during school vacations and holidays. The distance from your home to the college may play a role in that discount, so check with your agent for eligibility.
  • Defensive driver and driver training courses: 10% to 15%
  • Steer Clear: If you're a new driver or under 25 years of age without any at-fault accidents or moving violations within the past three years, you could save up to 20%

Progressive:

  • Good student: savings vary
  • Student away: savings vary
  • Teen driver discount: teen driver must be age 18 or 19; savings vary

Cheaper car insurance for students

Of course there is more to finding cheap car insurance than snagging discounts. If you’re like most struggling students, you can’t wait until you’re older and your rates drop, and would prefer to get cheaper rates now in order to save for other things -- like tuition.

Ways to get affordable car insurance for college students:

  • Try to stay on mom and dad’s policy: If you still live at home, or are going to school in-state, and your parents’ name is also on the title, it should be easy to remain on their car insurance policy instead of having the expense of getting your own.
  • Get good grades: The good student discount for keeping up your GPA can vary from 5% up to 25% depending upon your auto insurer.
  • Keep a clean driving record: Your rates will suffer if you’re involved in an accident or convicted of traffic violations, especially of a major one such as a DUI, since this shows you to be a high risk for your insurer. Because you already pay more for car insurance, the surcharges wind up bigger, too.
  • Carry only state required coverages: If your car is older and you own it outright, then you can save by not carrying collision or comprehensive coverage if you can either afford to fix the car if damaged or just replace it. It is recommended, however, that you carry higher liability limits if you have assets to protect.
  • Try usage-based auto insurance programs such as State Farm’s In-Drive or Progressive’s Snapshot: You can save a few hundred dollars a year, if you are a very conservative driver. If you are an aggressive driver, drive during high-risk hours or put a lot of miles on your car, you may not qualify for a discount at all.
  • Comparison shop: If you’re getting your own policy, the best way to save is to compare car insurance quotes from at least three companies for the same coverage levels. The price for the same policy will vary significantly because car insurance companies use their different formulas when deciding what you pay. You can’t buy cheap student car insurance if you don’t shop around.

What is the cheapest car insurance for college students?

Concord, USAA, Liberty Mutual, Geico, Erie, Travelers, State Farm, Progressive and Nationwide are the national carriers that have the cheapest car insurance for 18-year-olds buying their own full coverage policy, among companies surveyed by CarInsurance.com.

Those insurers, along with other regional companies, all came in well below the national average rate for drivers age 18. Of course, your driver profile may differ.

The cheap car insurance for college students isn’t a one-size-fits-all demographic, and will depend on whether or not you stay on your parents’ policy or not, where you live, the discounts you get and how old you are, among other factors.

Cheap Car Insurance for Students
Company Average Rate Full Coverage
Concord$1,739
USAA$2,035
Liberty Mutual$2,082
Geico$2,273
North Carolina Farm Bureau$2,322
Erie$2,781
Mississippi Farm Bureau$2,858
New Jersey Manufacturers$2,927
Texas Farm Bureau$3,003
Owners Insurance$3,192
Travelers$3,476
New York Central$3,508
State Farm$3,563
MMG Insurance$3,681
Progressive$4,036
Depositors$4,211
AAA Texas County$4,423
Nationwide$4,495
Arbella$5,184
Allied$5,256
Kentucky Farm Bureau$5,404
Safeco$5,463
United Financial$5,513
Colonial County$5,660
Allstate$5,691
Oklahoma Farm Bureau$5,694
Louisiana Farm Bureau$5,754
Safety$6,110
Farmers$6,432
Metropolitan$6,921
Victoria$7,119
Safeway$7,278
Mid Century$7,635
Foremost$8,618
Amica$8,968

But it's important to know that in other instances it makes more sense to be listed as a driver on the parents' policy.

How to buy car insurance coverage for college students?

There are lot of things that goes into consideration when getting car insurance for college students. Your current situation mainly affects your decision of buying car insurance coverage.

For example- If you still live at home and go to college in-state, it would be cheaper for you to stay on your parents insurance than having your own policy.

However, if you own a car and have your name on the title, you should get your own auto insurance for students. Buying car insurance coverage for college students can be tricky sometimes, but we have tried to simplify things for you.

Here are the review suggested approaches to insurance depending upon your circumstances:

Suggested Insurance Coverage Depending upon Circumstances
Attends College Holds Title to Car Lives at Home Drives Year-Round Drives During Visits Home Suggested Insurance Coverage
In townYesYesYesRarelyStudent Policy
In townNoYesYesN/AParent Policy
In stateYesNoYesRarelyStudent Policy
In stateNoNoYesRarelyParent Policy
Out of stateNoNoYesYesParent Policy
Out of stateNoNoNoRarelyParent Policy
100+ miles from homeNoNoNoYesParent Policy
100+ miles from homeYesNoNoYesStudent Policy

How much is the average car insurance for a student?

Here are the average car insurance rates for students of different ages, who are buying their own policy:

  • 18-year-old student: $5,190, on average, more than $3,430 over the national average ($1,758) for drivers age 30.
  • 19-year-old student: $3,560, more than $1,800 over the national average.
  • 20-year-old student: $3,500, more than $1,740 over the national average.
  • 21-year-old student: $2,737, more than $979 over the national average.

As you can see, it’s going to be expensive. It really has nothing to do with your being in college but your young age.

Unfortunately, it’s always going to be more expensive for a teenager or early twenty-something adult to have car insurance than the parent. It’s easy to understand why. Parents have more driving experience.

Car insurance for 18-year-old college student

In addition to insurers listed in the chart above, other regional companies, all came in well below the national average rate for drivers age 18.

Our guide to car insurance rates for 18-year-olds shows rates for males and females by state, as well as by coverage level, and show how a parent's rates are affected when you add a teen to your policy. You'll also get expert advice on how much coverage to buy and discounts for young drivers.

Car insurance for 19-year-old college student

Concord, Progressive, USAA, Geico, Liberty Mutual, Erie and Travelers are the national carriers that have the cheapest car insurance for 19-year-olds, among companies surveyed by CarInsurance.com.

Those insurers, along with State Farm, Farmers, Arbella and other regional companies, all came in well below the national average rate for drivers age 19.

Our guide to car insurance for drivers age 19 provides average car insurance rates for males and females by state, as well as by coverage level, and shows how a parent's rates are affected when teens are added to their policy.

Car insurance for 20-year old college student

Among major carriers surveyed, Concord, Progressive, USAA, Geico and Liberty Mutual had the cheapest rates for 20-year-olds, based on CarInsurance.com’s rate analysis.

Our guide to coverage for 20-year-old drivers has more details on what you can expect to pay, tips on how much insurance to buy and how to find the best price on car insurance. We provide average car insurance rates for 20-year-old males and females by state, as well as by coverage level, and company.

Do college students get discounts on car insurance?

As a matter of fact, yes. In fact, let’s make a list. Lists are always handy.

  • The Good Student Discount: We just mentioned that. If you have a B average, you can probably see your monthly premiums lowered. But you’ll have to submit your report card or some sort of written documentation proving your grades to your insurer every semester.
  • The Student Away at School Discount: If you’re going to college 100 miles or more from your home, and your car is staying behind, you’ll likely be able to get a discount on your car insurance.
  • Student organization discount: Do you belong to a fraternity or sorority? Or maybe a student organization like the American Medical Student Association, American Student Dental Association or The National Society of Leadership and Success? You may be able to land a discount, depending on your insurer.
  • Volunteer discount: No, it’s not a discount exclusive to college students, but if you do a lot of volunteer work, you may be able to get a discount for that.
  • Discount for young driver training: If you’re a college student and under the age of 25, you might be able to take a driver’s ed program – State Farm has its Steer Clear program and American Family, its Teen Safe Driver program, for instance. Yes, this sounds about as much fun as auditing a trigonometry class, but if you want to save money, this is one way to do it. How much you save will vary, depending on the insurer and state you live in.
  • Driving tracking discount: If you’re willing to use a mobile app or let your insurer put a device in your car that monitors your driving – as in, sees how fast you drive and how hard you brake and so on – you could get a discount. Of course, if you’re a terrible driver, drive a lot of miles or drive during late-night hours, you won’t qualify for a discount. But if you are a good driver, this can be a nice way to shave even more money off your premium.

Can college students stay on parents’ car insurance?

If you still live with your folks, and go to school in-state and their name is on the title of the vehicle, you can, and it’s recommended that you do because it’s much cheaper than having your own policy.

“Often, it’s smart to stay on their parents plan for several reasons,” says Lamar Brabham, CEO and founder of Noel Taylor Agency, a financial services firm, in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

For one, Brabham says, “The amount of coverage may be simpler because their parents carry higher limits than would be affordable for a student.

The size of the policy or amount of coverage will likely be higher than a bare bones student policy. And then there is an umbrella policy -- excess liability policy -- that will increase the coverage over and above the normal limits of a typical auto policy.”

Another benefit is that your parents will likely qualify for a multi-driver discount.

Read More: Parents' guide - The best and cheapest way to insure teenage drivers

When do college students need to have their own car insurance policy?

If you are a college student, and you have your own car with your name on the title, you are required to have your own insurance policy.

The plan may be for your parents to pay for your car insurance if you don’t have a job because, you know, you’re going to be busy with college and not making money, and that’s fine, but you need to have your own separate insurance policy.

Now, if you have your own car – but at least one of your parents is listed as the owner on the title, then you don’t have to have your own car insurance policy. You can get your own car insurance policy – or just be added to your parents’ insurance policy.

Car insurance for students out of state

If you attend school out of state, be sure you’re still covered. If your parents own the car you’re taking to school, you typically can stay listed on your parents’ policy.

Most states allow out-of-state college students to stay on their parents’ car insurance coverage as long as the student’s primary address is still the parental home address. However, some states don’t allow this, so be sure to check.

Tips for auto insurance for college students

The main thing you need to remember is that you need car insurance coverage – and you should inform your insurance company about your college plans. The rest of the details are pretty easy.

Still, we’ll run through the various scenarios you’re likely to find yourself in, and we’ll spell out what you should probably do.

College student who lives at home and drives own car:

  • If your name is on the title to the car, you should have your own car insurance policy.
  • If your name is not on the title of the car, you should probably just stay on your parents’ car insurance policy.

College student who lives at home and drives the parents’ car:

  • If you are living with your parents and driving your parents' car on a regular basis, you need to be listed on their policy. Be sure to tell your insurer that you are driving their car regularly. It probably will make your parents’ car insurance premium climb, big-time, but they need to know. If you’re in a wreck, and you weren’t listed as a regular driver, there’s a chance your insurance could say, “Well, you know, as far as we’re concerned, you really weren’t insured. Have fun paying for all the damage.”
  • If you barely ever drive your parents’ car but you do once in a blue moon get behind the wheel, your insurer should be told that. You may find that you aren’t listed as a regular driver and that the premiums don’t go up. It may be that the insurer sees you borrowing the car being the same type of situation as if a friend of your mother’s or father’s borrowed the car.

College student who doesn’t live at home and is in college in state and drives his or her own car:

  • If you don't live at home and have your own car, again, it all comes down to whose name is on the title. If your name is on the title, you should have your own insurance policy.
  • If you consider the car your car, but your parents’ names are on the title, you can stay on your parents’ car insurance policy.

College student who doesn't live at home and goes to college in-state and drives a parent’s car:

  • This is probably obvious, but if you are taking a car to college, a car that your parents own, you should stay on your folks' insurance policy. Again, let your insurer know.

College student who goes to school out of state, drives own car and returns for holidays and summer:

  • Again, if the title is in your name, you should have your own car insurance policy.
  • If the car is in your parents’ names, you can stay on their car insurance policy.

Three main things to remember:

Communicate with your car insurance company:

Let them know where you’re going to college. If you’re going to college out of state, for instance, you are going to be driving in another state.

Why does that matter? Because insurance laws and requirements vary by state, and if you’re going to be insured properly, your insurance carrier needs to know your driving habits and where you are going to be living throughout the year.

Comparison shop:

If you don't want to sacrifice coverage to save money, you owe it to yourself to see what’s out there. No insurer handles things exactly alike when it comes to car insurance, and some treat out-of-state college students, and in-state college students, differently.

Also, the price for the same policy will vary by hundreds of dollars because insurance companies each use their own method for deciding what you pay. That means you can save money by comparing prices and choosing the carrier that best fits your needs that has the lowest rates.

Keep communicating with your car insurance company:

No, you don’t have to send them birthday and holiday cards, but it’s easy to fall into the pattern of thinking, “Well, I just called my insurer two years ago.” Any time your life changes in a big way, especially if you’re moving, you should contact your insurer.

Going to college for the first time is a major change. But so is switching to a different college midstream or going to graduate school. And graduating college, getting your diploma and heading out into the work force will be a huge change, too.

Why let them know? Because any time you’re in a new location, they should know. If you don't notify your insurer when you move and you get in an accident, you could be left paying for all of the damage. Also? It may pay off. For instance, some car insurers offer car insurance discounts to recent college graduates starting out.