Cheapest Car Insurance for College Students

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Contributor, Benzinga
November 5, 2021

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When you’re a college student, every penny counts. However, auto insurance can be pricey, especially for younger drivers. But not all insurers charge the same premiums. We’ve listed some of the cheapest car insurance for college students we could find as well as some tips that can save you even more money.

Cheap Car Insurance for College Students:

We collected car insurance quotes for an 18-year-old female. Our fictional female college student lives in scenic Arizona and drives a late-model 2015 Ford Taurus. Because the car is newer, we’ll need full coverage, which includes collision and comprehensive coverage.

CompanyMonthly Premium
Freedom National$215
The General$331
Commonwealth Casualty$329

Monthly rates ranged from $215 to $344 for our 18-year-old female student. However, your rates are likely to differ. Some auto insurers weigh thousands of individual data points to determine your premium. This makes your overall risk profile unique although your rates may still fall in a similar range to other students.

Your age and driving history come into play when setting premiums. Many insurers also consider your credit history. Better credit scores often earn lower rates. However, not all insurers weigh credit history and some give credit less weight than others. 

The type of car you drive also affects rates. Cars with more safety features typically earn lower rates as do cars with lower theft risks. Despite the myths, car color doesn’t matter, however. Go ahead and get the red one if you want.

Also, some insurers are regional while others offer coverage in every state. To get quotes for your state or to learn more about car insurance, be sure to visit our review of the best car insurance options.

Tips For Lowering Car Insurance for College Students

Insurance costs for college student drivers can be steep, but there are several common ways to lower insurance rates. 

  • Compare quotes. Don’t be frustrated if the company your parents use gives you a high quote. Chances are good that you can save money by comparing quotes from other car insurance companies.
  • Check rates before buying your car. The car you drive can have a big impact on your rates. Insurers look at repair costs, safety features and more. If possible, check car insurance rates for the vehicle you’re considering before you make a purchase.
  • Manage premiums with a higher deductible. The deductible is the part of the claim that you pay. By choosing a higher deductible, you can reduce the cost of your policy. However, be sure to choose a deductible that fits your budget. Choosing a deductible that’s too high might mean you won’t have enough money to repair your car if you have a claim.
  • Consider coverage options. Not every car needs full coverage. If you own a late-model car, you’ll want full coverage. But if you’re driving a 20-year old car, the cost of collision coverage might not be a good value. For many older cars, even minor accidents can total the car because it isn’t worth much on paper. Instead, it might make sense to bank the savings in case you need to repair or replace the car.
  • Use credit carefully. Credit can play a big role in auto insurance rates. Not all insurers weigh credit history, but many do, and the difference in costs can be significant if your credit is spotty.
  • Earn good student discounts. Your good grades can save you money with many insurers. Ask about good student discounts and get your transcripts ready. You’ll need to verify your good grades periodically to keep the discount.
  • Ask about low-mileage discounts: If you don’t use your car much, you might be able to save money by documenting your low usage. Fewer miles mean less risk, so you might be able to save money.
  • Consider driving courses. Discounts for driver’s education classes are common but some insurers also offer discounts for defensive driving courses. Ask your insurer before you purchase a course. Most insurers can give you a list of approved courses.
  • Ask about telematics. Technology, combined with good driving habits, can help you save money with many insurers as well. Telematics refers to a device or an app that measures key driving metrics to help you earn a discount for your good driving. Try to avoid swerves, fast starts and hard braking. Also, try to avoid driving late at night.

Parent Policy vs. Own Policy

In some cases, you might be able to save some money on your car insurance by staying on your parents’ insurance policy. However, whether you’re eligible to stay on their policy may depend on whether you own your car or your car is registered in your parents’ names. Most insurers want the registration to match the named insured, which means that if your car is registered to you, you’ll need your own policy.

Staying on your parents’ policy means you may qualify for some extra discounts. For example, many insurers offer a discount for bundling home and auto insurance policies or for insuring multiple vehicles on 1 policy. Also, your parents may have more established credit. All these factors can reduce insurance costs.

Best Car Insurance for College Student Drivers

Some insurers offer coverage in all 50 states while others only sell policies in certain regions. Here are our top picks based on our 18-year-old college student in Arizona. Be sure to check rates for your state to find out how much you can save.

1. Best Overall: The General

There’s a lot to like about The General. Monthly payment options help keep costs affordable and The General even accepts drivers with a less-than-perfect driving record. Low down payments make it easy to get started while no-hassle claims handling ensures that your coverage is there when you need it most. 

The General’s strong financial ratings speak to the company’s staying power. As an affiliate of American Family Insurance, one of the nation’s largest insurers, The General has over 50 years of experience serving the industry.

The General makes managing your policy a breeze with its handy apps for iOS or Android. Pay your premiums, access ID cards, or place a claim anywhere, anytime.

2. Cheapest: Freedom National

Freedom National built its business by creating value for its insurance customers — even those with a slightly speckled driving history. Base coverage is available for older cars but you also have the option of choosing full coverage — or even extras like towing. 

While Freedom National was the cheapest in our comparison, the company doesn’t offer coverage nationwide yet. If you live in California, Georgia, Arizona or Utah, be sure to get a quote to compare. 

Freedom National offers discounts and preferred rates based on location, miles driven, driving history and more.

3. Best for Customer Satisfaction: GAINSCO

If you’re a race fan, you’ve probably seen GAINSCO-sponsored race cars zipping around the track. This Texas-based company has insured drivers for over 40 years and customers rave about their experience with GAINSCO. 

Expect friendly service from experts who can walk you through your coverage options in a way that’s easy to understand. GAINSCO offers customizable coverage in a number of states throughout the South and Southwest. 

Stable financial ratings from AM Best and easy payment plans provide more reasons to add GAINSCO to your shopping list when getting quotes.

Commonwealth Casualty
securely through Commonwealth Casualty's website

4. Best for Combined Coverage: Commonwealth Casualty

Many cheap car insurance companies only offer auto insurance. Sometimes you might need other types of coverage as well, such as renters insurance or roadside assistance. Commonwealth doesn’t offer every type of insurance, but being able to bundle your renters policy and auto policy is a welcome change from some auto-only providers. 

This newer company, founded in 2010, focuses on the key insurance types you might need and also adds some extra coverages that might be especially handy for college students. For example, you can add rideshare coverage if you drive for Uber or Lyft, filling the gap in coverage left by standard auto policies. 

Commonwealth Casualty even offers a vanishing deductible to reduce your out-of-pocket costs if you have a claim.

Dairyland Auto
securely through Dairyland Auto's website

5. Best for Nationwide Coverage: Dairyland

Dairyland’s footprint spans 37 states, which makes it one of the largest insurers in our roundup in terms of geographic coverage. The company focuses on auto and motorcycle insurance, including SR22 coverage if required by your state. 

Whether you just need basic coverage or full coverage, consider Dairyland for your auto policy. Dairyland’s money-saving discounts paired with pay-as-you-go premiums can make insuring your car more affordable.

Choosing the Cheapest Car Insurance for College Students

Cheap car insurance isn’t always the best option, but you don’t want to overpay, either. Consider the big picture when buying car insurance. Research reviews and claims satisfaction. Also, ask questions about other coverages, such as liability coverage or medical coverage. These 2 coverage types can vary from 1 state to the next and you’ll want to be sure your policy covers your needs instead of just the bare minimum.