Having a car while you’re at college can be incredibly helpful, particularly if you are studying in a small town that doesn’t have much public transportation. However, if you have a car while you’re at college, you’re also going to need reliable car insurance. Car insurance can be expensive when you’re young, and college students don’t typically make a lot of money. However, there are some things you can do to lower the cost of your car insurance while you’re at school. Here’s what to consider when shopping for car insurance as a college student.
Staying on Your Parents’ Policy vs. Buying Your Own
The biggest decision you’ll have to make in this situation is whether you should stay on your parents’ car insurance or get your own policy. Of course, not everyone has the option to stay on their parents’ car insurance policy. But if you do, there are several advantages to this situation. Your parents can get a discount on their policy by adding a second or third car to it, so you’ll pay less overall for your vehicle than you would if it was on its own policy. They may also be able to get a discount for having a student away at school.
However, even if you’re paying for your own policy, there are still plenty of discounts you might qualify for. You can usually get a discount for being a good student if your GPA is above a certain number. If you have been driving for at least three years and have a good record, you may also be able to qualify for a substantial “good driver discount”. This can offset the higher premiums you’ll incur by being a relatively new driver. Other popular discounts include discounts for cars with advanced safety features, discounts for taking defensive driving classes, and discounts for using telematics programs to track your driving habits. When signing up for a car insurance policy, you should always ask to see a full list of potential discounts – you might be shocked by how many you qualify for. Even if you’re on a tight budget as a college student, you can still find a policy that you can afford.
Distance or Usage-Based Car Insurance Programs
As a college student, you may not drive that often when you’re on campus. Especially if you live in the dorms, you may be able to walk to classes and to run errands. However, you still want to have a car so you can drive home or explore the area when you want to. This is an instance where you may want to look into distance-based car insurance programs. These are becoming increasingly popular as many people are moving away from driving and relying on public transit, rideshare services, bikes, and scooters.
If you only drive every so often, it may be worth looking into these usage-based programs. Metromile is one of the most popular usage-based car insurance programs, but Allstate and Nationwide both offer usage-based policies as well. These companies will require you to use a mileage tracker while you’re in the car and will charge you a flat rate per mile based on how far you go. Many car insurance companies also offer low-mileage discounts. A low-mileage program might not save you as much money as a pay-per-mile program, but it can still help you lower your rates dramatically.
Car Insurance Tips for College Students
Buying car insurance for the first time is daunting, whether you’re doing it on your own or have your parents’ help. Here are some tips to help make the process a little less overwhelming and ways to help keep your rates down.
- Always look at several different car insurance companies when doing your shopping. Compare overall quotes as well as the amount they offer for student discounts. It can be tempting to go with the first car insurance company you find, just to get the shopping process over with. However, this approach can lead you to miss out on some of the most affordable car insurance policies for students. Putting in the extra time shopping is vital to help save you money.
- If you’re going to be paying the bills on your own for the first time, see if your car insurance company has an app you can use to do so. The process will seem less daunting if you can do it easily on your cell phone just by clicking a few buttons. Many car insurance apps also allow you to file claims and check claim status through the app, which can make a big difference as well.
- Take safety precautions with your car. Get it checked and repaired regularly, park it somewhere safe, and make sure you have anti-lock brakes and other safety devices installed. This can lower your risk of getting in an accident and save you a significant amount of money later on.