Cheap Insurance for College Students

If you’ve got a teen driver in the family, you’re probably well versed in the costs that come along with having a newbie behind the wheel. It means your insurance rates go up and this continues well into the college years. Let’s look at who has the best car insurance rates for college students.

Who Has The Cheapest Insurance for College Students?

Your best bet for car insurance to cover a college student is USAA, but this insurance is only available to members of the military and their families. If you don’t fall into that group, then the best choices for families with college kids are Esurance and Nationwide as long as you’re keeping your student on your policy

If your college student is getting her own insurance, then rates are significantly higher. This may be required depending on the state where they’re going to school and how the car is titled so be sure to check local regulations.

We sampled information from a number of sources to determine a range of prices for young drivers, both male and female. It’s important to note we focused only on the least expensive insurance options, a metric which in no way indicates the quality of coverage, customer service, or availability.

Insurance rates can vary wildly from state to state as well, and even more so if your college student has an accident or driving citation on their record. The exact age of your college student also impacts your rates. Those under 18 will pay the most while those over 21 will pay the least.

DISCLAIMER: There are many other factors that can impact the price you’ll pay for a college student’s car insurance.

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Who Has The Best Cheap College Student Car Insurance?

  • Cheapest Large Insurance Carrier: Esurance, an Allstate subsidiary, has the best rates for college students added to an existing policy, both male and female. The national average for a teen driver is $766 for female drivers and $786 for male drivers for six-month policies. If your college student is 18 and has a clean driving record, then you’ll pay less. The only company that offers a better rate is USAA, which is only available to members of the military and their families.
  • Best Overall: Esurance has the best overall rates coming in only slightly higher than USAA. Its rates for male drivers are considerably better than what’s found elsewhere.
  • Best Insurance in All 50 States: If you’re not eligible for USAA insurance, then you’re once again looking at Esurance, no matter where you live.
  • Cheapest Standalone Insurance: If your college student needs standalone insurance, then rates are higher, but they’ll still do best with USAA. Otherwise, State Farm and Nationwide offer the best rates.

How Much Does College Student Car Insurance Cost?

We researched a wide variety of policies and insurance companies from around the country, but some don’t openly advertise their rates for college students without an in-depth quote or an existing policy held by a parent. The rates you see below have been averaged out between male and female teen drivers added to an existing policy.

Rates we found

Who Are The Nation's Best College Student Car Insurers?

  • Nationwide - Nationwide sometimes gets swept aside when compared to giants like Progressive and GEICO, but the company offers some of the best accident forgiveness and pricing plans for teen drivers. Policies include 24/7 roadside assistance, vanishing deductible options, and total loss deductible waivers. The accident forgiveness program is one of the only in the country available for drivers under the age of 18, and save a significant amount of cash for parents if there has been a slip-up behind the wheel.

  • Allstate - As an enormous insurance company, Allstate has some tricks up its sleeve that some smaller insurers might not. The company offers a long list of discount options for college students, has an excellent mobile app, and offers coverage in all 50 states. The downside is that it’s far from the cheapest option for teen drivers.

  • Erie Insurance - You can’t get it everywhere, but if you live in an area that Erie services, the company has great coverage options for teen drivers. They offer discounts geared toward drivers under 21, and include a variety of add-ons that don’t cost more but add a ton in peace of mind. Many Erie policies come with pet insurance for injuries during an auto accident, personal item coverage for lost, stolen or damaged property, glass coverage, roadside assistance, and locksmith services.

  • State Farm - The company with some of the best commercials in the insurance business also happens to offer some of the best coverage in the business as well. State Farm offers a variety of discounts and programs targeted at teen drivers and their families. One of the biggest negatives to going with them is that there’s significant pressure to work with a local agent, which may not be as attractive as an online-only experience for some people.

How Can You Get Car Insurance Discounts for College Students?

Like ordinary car insurance, there are a million discounts that you can apply to drop your insurance cost significantly. When we got quotes, we didn’t select any of these, but they were all questions on the quote engine that would impact the overall insurance rate:

  • Drivers Ed - Many states require it to get a learner’s permit, but even if they don’t, taking a driver’s ed course is one of the best ways for your teen to get a discount on their insurance rates. Take a look at our coverage of the best driver’s ed programs here.

  • Keep up in school - Just like insurers look at adults’ credit scores for an indication of how good they’ll be behind the wheel, they may offer discounts for good grades. If your teen earns a “B” average or higher, it’s an option worth looking into.

  • Newer, safer car - Some people think that college students should get whatever leftover vehicle is sitting in the driveway after the parents are finished with it, but that may not be the best option for a few reasons. Safety is one, and insurance companies realize this, offering discounts and lower rates for drivers of newer vehicles with better safety equipment on board. Take a look at our Buying Guide for Teens and New Drivers.

  • Avoid sports cars - It may be tempting to get your high school graduate a shiny new car for college, and while that’s a fantastic gift, it shouldn’t be a performance car. These are much more expensive to insure in general, and if you give one to your college student, they’ll pay the price with higher insurance rates.

  • A discount for living far from home - If your college student is going to school more than 100 miles away from home, but still needs to be on your insurance, then you may get a discount. Some insurance companies will cut you a break since they know that a long-distance college student isn’t spending as much time behind the wheel of mom or dad’s car. If they won’t be driving at all while at school, you may even be able to remove them from your policy while they’re away.

  • Encourage safe driving - A chat with your college student may not yield an immediate savings on your insurance policy but coaching toward safe driving habits can reduce the risk of a crash. Since crashes make insurance rates skyrocket, encouraging responsible driving while your kid is away at college could save you cash in the long run. Take a look at our Teen Driving Toolkit here.

What Are The Insurance Requirements for a College Student?

Auto insurance is required in all 50 states and though the penalties for not having it vary from place to place, your college student won’t be able to drive legally while they’re at school without being insured. This covers them whether they’re driving a car around campus for a pizza run or home visiting friends and family over break.

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Why is college student car insurance more expensive than standard car insurance?

Besides the fact that young drivers have little to no experience behind the wheel, their brains and ability to process information are not as developed as they are in most adults. Decisions that may take an adult a split second to make can take a young driver longer.

How can I get super cheap teen driver insurance?

You might be able to scrape by with a local insurance policy that undercuts Esurance or even USAA, but do you really want to cheap out on insurance for a kid, who might be operating the family’s most valuable asset alone? Do yourself a favor and shop for the best rates while making sure to find adequate coverage for your vehicle and teen’s abilities.

Can I buy a standalone policy for my college student?

Sure, but it’s awful pricey. It’s almost always cheaper to keep your college student on your policy rather than getting them their own insurance. Note that some states prohibit parents from including their kids on an auto policy that is held primarily out of state. It can also depend on whether you or your kid holds the title to the car. In these cases, you or your teen will have to purchase a standalone policy. Check your local regulations.

When will my college student’s insurance rates go down?

It varies, but in general, you can expect to see your first rate drop when your kid turns 18, so you may see some savings before your kid even starts college depending on the date of their birthday and when your policy renews. Keep in mind that their driving record will have a significant impact on your rates, whether it’s speeding tickets or accidents. There’s also a rate drop when your child turns 21.

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