Car Insurance for College Students
Heading off to college is an exciting time! For many teens, it means living on their own, making new friends, and—of course—dealing with adult situations.
One such situation is making sure your car insurance needs are met. This page will help guide you through what you’ll need to do when you go off to college.
Notify Your Car Insurance Company
Unless you’re staying at home with your parents, you must notify your provider you’ve moved away to college. This applies even if you’re leaving your car behind.
Why? There are several reasons you need to let your insurer know:
- Your car insurance company needs to know where your vehicle is primarily located.
- You might be required to get your own separate policy when you move out.
- Your agent can let you know the company’s policy on this.
- You (or your parents) can become eligible for one or more discounts.
Your Own Policy vs. Your Parents’ Policy
Many teen and young adult drivers and their parents are unsure how long children can stay on their parent’s policies. Do you have to get a new one when you move out, for example?
The answers are not always clear and can depend on a number of circumstances, as well as the car insurance company’s policies.
However, in general you can remain on your parents’ policy if one or more of the following apply to you:
- You don’t own/have a title for the vehicle you drive.
- You still live with your parents.
- You are a full-time college student and your parents’ address is still your primary residence.
If you move out and have purchased your own vehicle, your insurer might require you to get your own insurance.
The benefits of staying on your parent’s policy include the following:
- You’ll likely pay lower rates than if you were on your own policy.
- You’ll keep continuous coverage, which will help you get cheaper insurance when you break out on your own.
Even if you don’t plan to take a car to college, having your parents keep on your policy ensures that:
- You are covered to drive when you return home on breaks.
- You are covered to driver your friends’ vehicles.
- You have coverage as a passenger or pedestrian.
Check State Minimum Liability Requirements
Going to an out-of-state college? If you plan to take your car with you, you must make sure your car insurance meets your new state’s insurance requirements.
This is fairly easy if you’re sticking with the same company. Your provider already knows the minimum requirements of each state in which it’s licensed to do business and can make adjustments accordingly.
These adjustments might mean your parents’ premiums will go up (or down), so be prepared for a financial discussion.
However, if you’re planning on getting your own auto insurance policy:
- Compare at least 3 car insurance quotes.
- Research any new company you’re considering by visiting your state’s Department of Insurance and viewing their consumer complaint ratios.
- Make sure the policy meets your state’s minimum insurance requirements.
Discounts for College Students and Their Parents
Resident Student Discounts
For example, some car insurance providers offer “resident student discounts” (usually to students who are attending college at least 100 miles away from their parents’ home and will NOT be driving while away).
Occasional Driver Discounts
Also, if you leave your car behind, you parents could bump you down to an “occasional” or “pleasure-only” driver, which could save money on premiums.
This option may not be available at all car insurance companies. Ask your agent about whether this option exists.
Good Student Discounts
Finally, you may still be eligible for good student discounts. They don’t always end when you graduate high school!
If you continue to get grades required for your company’s discount, you might be able to use them to cheaper car insurance throughout college.
NOTE: Some providers offer good student discounts; others don’t. Still, it doesn’t hurt to ask—especially when it means you could save some cash!
Be Careful About Lending Cars to Friends
We know college students like to lend their cars to their friends or roommates, but think carefully before you do.
You see, car insurance follows the car—not the driver. This means if you lend your car to a friend and he gets into a fender bender, your insurance must coverage the damages—regardless of your friend’s insurance coverage.
However, if your friend causes a serious accident (major bodily and/or property damage), you both could be held responsible. For example, in an accident with major damages, your liability coverage may pay up to your limits and the driver’s coverage may pick up the rest.
If your friend doesn’t have any insurance, however, the costs fall squarely on you.
Finally, when your vehicle’s been involved in an at-fault accident, you’ll likely see higher rates/surcharges on your auto insurance as a result, regardless of whether you were driving or your friend was driving.
Unless you’re prepared to take these risks, limit how often you let friends use your vehicle (if at all).