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Car insurance for college students

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Article Highlights

Not all college students live within walking distance to campus. Some students need a car while they’re away at school. They also need the right insurance policy to protect their vehicle if anything goes wrong. But car insurance can be expensive, and college students are usually on a tight budget. That’s why we put together a list of the best car insurance companies for college students.

What are the best car insurance companies for college students?

If you’re a college student searching for the best car insurance company, you’re in luck. There are a few great providers that offer flexible coverages for a good price.

  • Allstate: Best online and mobile tools
  • State Farm: Best discounts
  • Amica: Best coverages
  • USAA: Best for ROTC 
  • Geico: Best cheap policies
Company18-year-old annual rate19-year-old annual rate20-year-old annual rate21-year-old annual rate
Allstate$6,521$4,590$4,798$3,303
State Farm$5,506$3,858$3,738$3,389
Amica$7,872$5,469$4,992$4,523
USAA$3,516$2,561$2,444$2,044
GEICO$4,521$3,171$3,005$2,406

Allstate 

College students rely on technology for almost everything, and with Allstate, you can use online and mobile tools to easily manage your policy. Allstate’s highly-rated mobile app has a ton of great features. You can make changes to your policy, pay your bill, file a claim, and even request roadside right from your phone. We know that college students are busy, and if you have car insurance from Allstate, you’ll never have to call or meet with an agent.

Allstate’s average annual rate for an 18-year-old student is pricey, coming in at $6,521. That breaks down to a hefty $543.41 per month, which can be a substantial hurdle for college students to overcome. Especially on top of tuition and other living expenses.

ProsCons
Online tools and mobile appAverage customer service
Good discountsSlow claim payout
Safe driver programs

State Farm

If saving money is your biggest objective, we recommend a car insurance policy from State Farm. The company offers a number of discounts aimed at college students which can help lower your premium. One of the best is the good student discount, which can save you up to 25% for getting good grades. If you’re confident in your safe driving skills, you can also enroll in the Steer Clear® program which rewards safe drivers under age 25 with a lower rate.

Those discounts could be very beneficial in reducing State Farm’s average annual premium of $5,506 for an 18-year-old. Paying $458.83 per month is a steep cost for any driver, but particularly for a college student.

ProsCons
Good discount optionsMore expensive rates
Variety of coverages available 
Great customer service

Amica

Amica is one of the best car insurance companies because they offer extensive coverage options. In addition to the basics, Amica also offers roadside assistance, glass coverage, rental car reimbursement, accident forgiveness and identity fraud monitoring. You’ll also find unique coverages, like free lock replacement if you lose your keys, no depreciation if your new car is totaled, and even $1,000 for bail bonds (which hopefully you never have to use).

However, those extensive coverage options can be quite costly for college students, given Amica’s annual premium for an 18-year-old is $7,872 on average. At $656 per month, that’s by far the priciest option in this comparison.

ProsCons
Extensive add-on coveragesExpensive premiums
Variety of discountsNot available everywhere
Good customer service

USAA

USAA is a solid insurance company on all fronts, but coverage is only available to active and retired military members, and their immediate families. Fortunately, pre-commissioned officers, including students in ROTC, qualify for coverage. If you’re in a college military program, you probably won’t find a better car insurance company than USAA. The company offers great coverage, good prices, and amazing customer service. It’s the only company that consistently earns a perfect 5-star rating from J.D. Power in every region.

For college students who qualify for USAA coverage, 18-year-old’s will find it’s the most affordable option at $3,516 for an average annual premium. The $293 monthly payment is by far the most manageable for college students to pay.

ProsCons
Personalized customer serviceOnly available to ROTC/military 
Affordable policies
Comprehensive coverage

Geico

If you’re strapped for cash, consider a car insurance policy from Geico. The company has a reputation for offering some of the cheapest car insurance policies on the market. Even if you have a few violations on your record, or a low credit score, you can probably get a reasonably affordable policy from Geico. The company also offers a long list of discounts that college students can take advantage of, including a 15% discount for good students.

Geico is the least expensive option if you factor out USAA, which is only available to active and former military members, their families, pre-commissioned officers, and ROTC students. Geico’s average annual premium of $4,521 for an 18-year-old breaks down into a $376.75 monthly payment.

ProsCons
Cheap policiesPoor customer service
Variety of discounts
Highly-rated mobile app

Comparing car insurance for college students

Within the U.S., the overall average annual cost of car insurance for all teens and young adults between the ages of 18 and 22 is $3,615. The five providers we evaluated don’t quite approach this price point, but are the best options for college students looking for car insurance. Here are some of the student-specific discounts and other unique features that make these companies a standout from competitors.

CompanyStudent discounts offeredUnique featuresAM Best RatingBBB RatingAverage rate (18-year-olds)
AllstateSmart student, student away at schoolDrivewise program for safe drivers, Milewise program for infrequent driversA+A+$6,521
State FarmGood student, student away at schoolSteer Clear program, top-rated mobile app, online resourcesA++A$5,506
AmicaGood student, student away at schoolCredit-based scores, dividend policies, great customer serviceA+A+$7,872
USAAGood studentWide range of discounts, payment plans, accident forgivenessA++B+$3,516
GeicoGood studentMobile app, great discounts, Mexico insuranceA++A+$4,521

Average cost of car insurance for college students

Car insurance companies look at a number of personalized factors when evaluating the risk of a driver to determine how much their car insurance rates will be. These factors include where you live, driving history and type of vehicle you drive, among others. 

Car insurance companies also take your gender into account when evaluating risk. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute, more men than women die in motor vehicle accidents each year. Men also often engage in risky driving practices far more than women, including speeding, failing to wear a safety belt and driving while impaired by alcohol. This increases the risk for car insurance companies to insure male drivers, resulting in higher car insurance rates.

Annual premiums by gender

FemaleMale% difference
$5,009$5,66113%
$3,725$4,26615%
$3,370$3,81413%
$2,451$2,79214%

For college students, age equates to a lack of experience behind the wheel — meaning they are more likely to have an accident, which makes them a more risky driver to insure. 

AgeAverage premium
18$5,335
19$3,996
20$3,592
21$2,622

How to save money on car insurance for college students

Car insurance for college students can be expensive because young drivers are often placed in the high-risk category. In addition, the state where you live can affect car insurance rates for college students. However, there are ways that you can save money on your car insurance.

In most cases, the average savings with a good student discount is between 8% and 9% for college students. However, even this small percentage discount can be helpful. In the case of Allstate’s average annual premium of $6,521 for an 18-year-old, that could mean annual savings of $521.

Savings with good student discount

AgeAverage savings
188%
199%
209%
218%

Improve your grades

Most car insurance providers offer a discount for students who maintain good grades. Sometimes, that discount can be significant—up to 25% or even more, and most companies don’t require a 4.0 GPA or straight A’s. For instance, Allstate considers you a good driver if your grades are B- or above, or you have at least a 2.7 GPA. If your grades are in the C or below range, improving them can save some money on your insurance.

Take advantage of low mileage discounts

If you live within walking distance of your campus, you probably only use your car on the weekends or for errands. Some car insurance companies offer discounts for infrequent drivers. You can even look for pay-per-mile insurance, which charges you based on the distance you drive in a certain period of time. Oftentimes, this type of insurance is cheaper than a regular car insurance policy.

Stay on your parents’ policy

Compare the cost of having your own policy to the cost of being added to or staying on your parents’ policy and see if it’s cheaper to stay on their policy. While this isn’t always a savings opportunity, it might just be simpler and the extra costs can be mitigated with discounts. For instance, taking a defensive driving course, getting good grades, and enrolling in a safe driver program can all help keep your parents’ rate low if you stay on their insurance policy.

Leave your car at home

The last option is one that most college students don’t want to hear, but it’s worth mentioning—just leave your car at home. Your car will be much safer there, and there’s virtually no risk of anything happening to it. Although it’s never a good idea to cancel your car insurance, you can take advantage of a student away at school discount if your college is more than 100 miles away from your house.

The takeaway

  • College students who bring their car to school need a car insurance policy.
  • Although insurance isn’t always cheap for young adults, there are ways to save money.
  • Most insurance companies offer discounts for smart students and students who leave their car at home.

Based on our research, Allstate, State Farm, Amica, USAA and Geico stand out as the best car insurance companies for college students. But before you choose a company, it’s a good idea to shop around and get quotes from a few providers. Make sure you take advantage of student-specific discounts which can lower your premium and put money back into your pocket.

Methodology 

Coverage utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze quoted rates from thousands of zip codes across all 50 states including Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on the profiles of 19- to 21-year-old male and females, each with a clean record driving a 2016 Honda Civic. The drivers had the following coverage details:

  • $50k bodily injury liability per person
  • $100k bodily injury liability coverage per crash
  • $50k property damage liability coverage per crash
  • $500 collision coverage deductible
  • $500 comprehensive coverage deductible 

To look at the effect of a Good Driver discount, we analyzed rates for the profile both with and without the discount applied.

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