Best Cheap Car Insurance for College Students

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When you’re a college student, your dollars don’t go far. After paying for tuition, rent, books and fees, you’re lucky if you have a few bucks left for a weekend night on the town. The last thing you want to do is pay too much for your student car insurance.

Fortunately for you, there are a few companies that offer special discounts on car insurance for college students. Car insurance is expensive, especially for younger drivers, but there are options for you that can save you some money.

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If you own a car, you are likely required to carry at least a minimum level of liability insurance. If you hit someone, your liability insurance will cover their repairs. And if someone hits you, their liability insurance will cover your repairs.

However, if you get in an accident that doesn’t involve another car that is your fault, you’re out of luck. You’ll have to pay for the repairs on your own unless you have collision insurance.

Before shopping for car insurance, it’s important to know what types of coverages you need.

  • Minimum requirements: All states require you to carry at least a minimum level of bodily injury and property damage liability insurance. If you’re at fault in an accident, your liability insurance will cover the other driver’s repairs and medical expenses. And if someone hits your vehicle, their liability insurance will cover your medical bills and repairs.
  • Personal injury protection: Some states also require car owners to carry personal injury protection insurance. PIP insurance covers the cost of injuries to you and your passengers when you have an accident, regardless of who is at fault. Some PIP policies also cover funeral expenses.
  • Uninsured and underinsured coverage: Likewise, some states require drivers to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance, which helps pay your expenses when an uninsured or underinsured driver is at fault in an accident involving your vehicle. This broad coverage can help pay all types of expenses, including car repairs, medical expenses and lost wages.
  • Collision and comprehensive coverage: If you’re still making payments on your car, your lender will require you to buy collision and comprehensive insurance. Collision policies help pay for repairs to your car when you cause an accident. Comprehensive coverage pays to repair or replace your vehicle following a non-collision event. For instance, if someone steals your SUV or it’s damaged in a storm, your comprehensive policy will cover repairs or help you buy some new wheels.

Best Car Insurance Companies for College Students

  • Allstate
  • Geico
  • Progressive
  • State Farm

Best discounts: State Farm

Among our picks for best cheap car insurance for college students, State Farm has the highest rates. But State Farm offers the best discounts. Earn good grades and you may qualify for a 25% discount. Best of all, you can keep the discount until your twenty-fifth birthday. Take a driver training course before you turn 21 for even greater savings and maintain a good, accident-free driving record to earn more discounts.

Parents who have college students on their State Farm auto policies can take advantage of the student away at school discount. To qualify, the student must leave the car behind when they go off to college and only drive it when they return for holidays and vacations.

Insuring multiple vehicles with State Farm may entitle you to a 20% discount. Purchase a condo, home, life or renters insurance policy, and you may qualify for savings up to 17%. State Farm offers discounts for automobiles equipped with airbags and anti-theft devices. And, you may be eligible for up to a 40% discount on State Farm medical coverage if you own a late model car equipped with safety devices.

Discounts vary by state, but with so many discount programs to choose from, you may qualify for significant savings with State Farm.

AM Best gives State Farm an A++ (Superior) financial rating, and the Better Business Bureau rates State Farm A+.

Best rates: Progressive

Progressive offers great auto insurance rates for college students; around $1,700 per year, on average. Progressive’s online Name Your Price tool offers a unique way to get the lowest rate. Enter the amount you want to pay for car insurance, and the algorithm will deliver the best coverage for your price range.

Progressive also offers numerous discount programs for purchasing multiple policies and longevity discounts for folks who switch to Progressive after maintaining continuous coverage with another insurance carrier. Progressive’s good student discount extends a price reduction to college students 22 years of age and younger who maintain a B average.

Progressive has been in the insurance business since 1937 and has earned A+ (Superior) rating by AM Best. The BBB gives Progressive an A- rating.

Best mobile app: Geico

Geico’s mobile app, available for Android and Apple devices, comes packed with features. It stores a digital copy of your insurance card and features a roadside assistance page, enabling you to request a tow without having to make a phone call. Kate, Geico’s personal assistant, can answer questions about your policy or bill and the app’s augmented reality function can help you find gas stations, parks and restaurants from the convenience of your smartphone or tablet.

With the Geico app, you can pay your bill with a few taps and submit and track a claim following an accident. Do you always forget to change your oil? No need to worry because the Geico app’s vehicle care feature can send you alerts when it’s time to service your car.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., Geico is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway and holds and A+ BBB rating. AM Best gives Geico an A++ (Superior) financial rating.

Best rewards programs: Allstate

These days, it seems like everyone is advertising rewards programs, including insurance companies. As rewards programs go, Allstate’s shines brightly. With Allstate’s Drivewise program, you earn points for driving safely. Drivewise is part of the Allstate app and uses your smartphone’s location services functionality. The program can measure your speed, tell when you are talking on the phone or texting while driving and when you make hard stops.

For every 10 trips you make without hard braking or speeding, you earn 200 rewards points. Drive three consecutive days with no hard brakes to earn 200 more points, plus 200 additional points for driving three consecutive days without speeding. Redeem your points for all types of goodies, including gift cards, magazine subscriptions, merchandise and travel expenses such as car rentals and hotel rooms.

Allstate’s new Milewise pay-as-you-go program rewards infrequent drivers with lower rates. Milewise policyholders pay a daily rate, plus a per-mile rate, which only applies on the days they drive. For example, if you pay a daily rate of $1.50 and a per mile rate of $0.06, you will pay $2.70 for a 20-mile journey. After enrolling in Milewise, you must insert a small device into your car’s onboard diagnostic port, often called an OBD-II port, located under the dashboard. Whenever you get behind the wheel, the device tracks your mileage and deducts your insurance costs from a prepaid balance.

Currently, Milewise is only available in a few states, but it’s the perfect rewards program for college students who live on campus and only drive on weekends and holidays.

The BBB rates Allstate A+ and AM Best gives the carrier an A+ (Superior) rating.

Average rates for collegestudents


Annual
Monthly
Weekly
Daily
Allstate
$2,558
$213.16
$49.19
$7.01
Geico
$1,750
$145.83
$33.65
$4.79
Progressive
$1,710
$142.50
$32.88
$4.68
State Farm
$2,818
$234.83
$54.19
$7.72

How to save money on car insurance

In addition to the standard factors that go into car insurance rates for young drivers, like location, driving record and the make and model of your car, other factors can impact your car insurance rates.

Grades: If you slack off at school, the insurance company won’t raise your rates for making bad grades. However, most insurance companies offer discounts for students who achieve good grades.

Infrequent driver discounts: If you leave your car at home when you go to college, you may qualify for a big discount on your insurance. Many “student away from home” discounts still allow you to use the car when you visit home for weekends or holidays.

Standalone vs. parent’s auto policy: Often, you can get a better insurance rate if your parents add you to their existing auto policy. Policy terms vary across companies. In some cases, you get better rates when you stay on your parents’ policy for the first few years of driving but may get cheaper rates on a standalone policy after you turn 19 or 20.

Safe driving discounts: Most insurance companies offer discounts for policyholders who consistently avoid accidents, speeding tickets and filing claims. Also, programs such as Progressive’s Snapshot monitor your driving habits and offer rate reductions when you consistently drive safely.

Driver training discounts: Many insurance carriers offer discounts to young drivers if they take a driver training course. Some school districts provide driver training for high school students. Before taking a driver training class, make sure it’s approved by your insurance company’s discount program.

Some insurance companies have better discounts for college students than others do. Discounts can also vary by location because state insurance laws differ. To get the cheapest insurance rate, get quotes from several insurance companies, comparing premiums, coverages and discounts.

Methodology

We searched for companies that offer car insurance nationwide. To narrow our search for the best cheap car insurance for college students, we turned to market research company J.D. Power. Every year, J.D. Power produces a study of auto insurance companies, using a five-star rating system that evaluates each carrier in the following categories:

  • Billing process and policy information
  • Claims handling
  • Customer interaction
  • Policy offerings
  • Price

J.D. Power then assigns the top companies an overall customer satisfaction rating and ranks carriers according to geographic regions. All four of the companies we chose ranked well in all U.S. regions. For instance, in the Florida region, Allstate ranked #1. To see which companies ranked highest in your region, check out J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Auto Insurance Study.

We also considered each company’s financial strength, relying on ratings provided by AM Best. A company’s financial strength is an indicator of how well it can meet its obligation to pay claims. Each of our top four companies has $2 billion or more in assets and have earned excellent AM Best ratings.

Great rates, good coverage and financial strength factor into finding the best car insurance, but we also considered how well each insurer performed for its customers. Our top picks all consistently receive good ratings from the BBB.

FAQs

Is car insurance cheaper if you’re a student?

It depends. Some college students can qualify for good student and student away from home discounts, which non-students can’t. However, since most college students are young drivers, they still have higher insurance rates than more experienced drivers who have extensive, clean driving records.

How much is a good student insurance discount?

Student discounts can range from about 5% to 25% and vary by company. To get the best rate, shop around, paying close attention to discounts for students and young drivers.

Nicholas Pell
Nicholas Pell
Contributing Writer

Nicholas Pell is a freelance personal finance writer specializing in student loans, consumer credit and living a champagne life on a Kool-Aid budget. In addition to The Simple Dollar, he's written for Business Insider, Fox Business, WiseBread and MainStreet.