All drivers need car insurance to financially protect themselves against liabilities and damages resulting from an accident. While car insurance for drivers 18 to 25 is typically much more expensive than for other age groups, college students often have an advantage: Many insurers offer student discounts based on grades and driver education. But how do you figure out which car insurance is best for college students? To make the search easier, we reviewed the options for you based on affordability, student-centric discounts, and useful coverages. Here are our picks for the best car insurance for college students.
Best Auto Insurance Companies for Students 2020
|Insurance Company||Why We Picked It|
|State Farm||Best Student Discounts|
|Progressive||Best Cheap Car Insurance|
|Root||Best for Good Drivers|
GEICO: Best Overall
GEICO is one of the best insurers for college students because of its many coverage and discount options, broad availability, and superior digital experience. Based on our quotes, GEICO’s rates for young drivers were well below average, and customers across the nation are highly satisfied with GEICO’s auto insurance, according to J.D. Power surveys.
Types of Coverage
Like the other top car insurers for students, GEICO covers all the basics with its liability, medical, uninsured motorist, and vehicle coverages. But it also offers emergency road service, rental car reimbursement, and mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI) as optional add-ons to your policy. MBI adds coverages similar to an extended warranty for cars below 15,000 miles and 15 months old—potentially a good option if you got a new car as a graduation present. Another perk for phone-call-averse students: You can request roadside assistance directly from the GEICO app, which uses GPS data to pinpoint your location and send help.
In addition to car insurance, GEICO offers coverage for motorcycles and ATVs, so you can insure all your vehicles with one company and enjoy a multi-policy discount. It also offers a hybrid of personal insurance combined with commercial rideshare insurance though a partner company in most states, in case you want to drive for Lyft or Uber when you’re not in class. However, it could take three to six weeks to get a quote, a customer service rep explained by phone, so plan ahead if you’re interested in this type of coverage.
Student-specific GEICO discounts include savings for being a good student (15%), taking a driver’s education or defensive driving course, and being a member of a fraternity, sorority, or honor society. You can qualify for a discount based on membership in a professional organization like the American Medical Student Organization, and once you graduate, you may be able to take advantage of an alumni discount.
GEICO car insurance policies are available in all 50 states.
#1 for service in J.D. Power’s Insurance Digital Experience Study
#1 in three regions in J.D. Power’s Auto Insurance Satisfaction Study
Discounts for membership in hundreds of college-related organizations
Offers rideshare insurance
Rideshare insurance is offered through a partner, not by GEICO itself
Good student discount is smaller than some competitors’
State Farm: Best for Student Discounts
State Farm has some of the lowest premiums for college students on our list (see chart below), in part because of its generous 25% discount for students under 25 who have a “B” average or better. State Farm also rewards young drivers with good driving habits by offering various safe driver discounts.
Types of Coverage
Besides standard car insurance coverages, State Farm offers optional emergency road service coverage in case your car breaks down, and car rental and travel expenses coverage while your vehicle gets repaired. If you work for companies like Uber and Lyft, you can add rideshare coverage for protection not only when you’re waiting for an assignment, but during all phases of rideshare driving.
State Farm’s Steer Clear discount offers up to 15% off for new drivers and those under 25 years of age who haven’t had at-fault accidents or moving violations in the last three years. Getting good grades will net you a great discount (25%), and taking a driver training or defensive driving course could help you save even more.
State Farm car insurance is available in all 50 states.
Great variety of discounts for students
Cheaper premiums for young drivers than many competitors
#1 in two U.S. regions in J.D. Power Auto Insurance Satisfaction Study
Offers rideshare insurance add-on that covers all phases of ridesharing
Online quote system assigns you an agent, but not necessarily a nearby one
May use non-original equipment manufacturer (non-OEM) or recycled parts for claim repairs
Progressive: Best for Cheap Car Insurance
Based on the profile we used to collect quotes for this review, Progressive offered the most affordable car insurance for college students. Its quote was hundreds—sometimes even thousands—of dollars cheaper than its competitors’. And if you’re in a minor accident, Progressive’s Small Accident Forgiveness benefit helps you keep your rates low—and this coverage is automatically included in your policy in most states.
Types of Coverage
Students on a budget can get all the essential coverages with Progressive. Those with a little more wiggle room (and after-market vehicle additions like stereos and rims) might want to consider optional coverages like custom parts and equipment value ($5,000 limit). And if you have collision coverage and your pet is injured in an accident, Progressive will cover your vet bills (up to a limit).
If you finance your car, you may be interested in Progressive’s add-on loan/lease payoff coverage, which pays your car’s remaining balance if it’s totaled. For rideshare drivers, Progressive offers add-on rideshare coverage that extends your personal auto coverages to the times you’re waiting for a match and bridges your deductible gaps during other periods of ridesharing.
Progressive has a good student discount for full-time college students under 23 with at least a “B” average. Students can also enjoy discounts for using online quotes, signing documents online, going paperless, driving safely, and making automatic payments, among others.
Progressive car insurance is available in all 50 states.
Cheaper premiums than competitors, based on our sample quotes
About average scores for claims and insurance satisfaction, according to J.D. Power studies
#2 in the 2019 J.D. Power Independent Agent Satisfaction Study
Name Your Price tool makes it quicker to match coverages to your budget
Exclusive discounts on PODS Storage, health expenses, oil changes, and more
Doesn’t cover drivers deemed high-risk due to prior accidents or claims
Root: Best for Good Drivers
Root differs from traditional car insurance companies in that your premiums are based primarily on how you drive, rather than your demographics. Young drivers often get hit with high premiums because of their age, but those who obey road rules, drive well, and have clean driving records may be offered lower rates with Root. To get a quote from Root, you’ll need to download the company’s app and drive around for a few weeks while it gathers and analyzes data about your driving habits. If Root determines that you fit its criteria, it will send you a quote.
Types of Coverage
Root provides all the standard car insurance coverages. You can also use roadside assistance for three incidents (up to $100 worth of services each) per six-month policy term. And you can add rental car or Lyft reimbursement options to help you get around while your vehicle is being repaired.
Root automatically builds discounts into your quote, and it claims to save its customers up to $900 a year. The only discounts it specifically mentions are:
- Focused driving discount: Save an additional 10% for avoiding cellphone use while driving
- Bundle discount: Save 5% on renters insurance or 10% on homeowners insurance when you already have Root car insurance (not available in all states)
Root car insurance is available in 30 states, with another six and Washington, DC on the horizon.
Rates are based on driving habits, not demographics
All relevant discounts are built into your quote
Roadside assistance is included with every policy (except in California)
Must do a test drive to get a quote (2–3 weeks)
Can’t retake test drive if you’re not offered a quote
Not available for high-risk drivers
App keeps tracking driving habits unless you turn permissions off after test drive
How Much Is the Average Car Insurance for College Students?
Remember that insurers offer unique rates depending on factors like your driving record, location, age, vehicle and how you use it (business, personal only), mileage, credit score, and other factors that can vary between U.S. states. The amount of insurance coverage you want to purchase also impacts your premium.
Based on quotes we obtained from eight of the biggest car insurance companies, college students with no prior accidents can expect to pay an average of $1,725 for a six-month car insurance policy. The table below shows the quotes we received from each company, which include the required state minimum liability limits plus collision and comprehensive coverages (each with a $1,000 deductible). See the Methodology section further down for more information on our driver profile.
|Auto Insurance Company||Average 6-Month Premium for a College Student|
What Does Car Insurance Cover?
Personal car insurance is designed to cover personal driving (commuting, running errands, road trips, etc.) for you and other people listed on your policy. It also covers someone else driving your car with your permission. But using your car for a commercial purpose, like for ridesharing or on-demand deliveries, violates your contract. If you don’t have a rideshare endorsement or a commercial policy, insurers may cancel your insurance.
Mandatory car insurance coverages vary by state, but almost all states require car owners to meet minimum limits for bodily injury liability and property damage liability. Many states may also require you to carry medical payments coverage, also called personal injury protection (PIP), and uninsured motorist coverage.
Whatever coverage isn’t mandated by your state is considered optional, so it’s not included in your policy unless you choose to add it. Most car insurance companies offer vehicle damage coverages like optional collision, comprehensive, and glass coverage. Other optional offerings like roadside assistance, rental reimbursement, and personal belonging replacement vary by insurer.
Do College Students Need Car Insurance?
Yes. First, because you can’t legally drive in any state without showing financial responsibility. College students are notorious for being on tight budgets, so the most financially feasible way of satisfying state requirements is by having car insurance.
Second, car insurance is designed to protect you from paying out of pocket for vehicle damage and liability expenses. A two-car fender bender can cost $9,000, while an accident with a death runs into the millions. Go with the best coverage you can afford, in order to be better financially protected.
Can College Students Stay On Their Parents’ Insurance?
Yes. You can stay on your parents’ policy for however long you all agree, as long as your vehicle stays at their house overnight. If you live at a different address, then you’ll need your own policy. The exception is if you’re going to school out of state. Most states let you stay on your parents’ policy even if your car comes with you while you live on campus, but you’ll want to double-check to be sure.
Car insurance is a must for college students, but finding affordable rates or insurers that meet student needs can be tricky. The insurers on this list offer more affordable rates than average for college students, while also excelling in certain areas such as pricing, discounts, or services.
We compared 18 car insurance companies based on their coverage, discounts, services, and other offerings helpful for students. We also looked at affordability, J.D. Power ratings, and where possible, the NAIC’s National Complaint Index to determine overall value and customer satisfaction.
The six-month premium quotes we pulled used a 19-year-old female college student with a “B” average. Our fictional student had no prior accidents and drove a 2014 Toyota Corolla while living off-campus near Texas A&M University. Toyota Corollas were voted one of the best cars for teens by Consumer Reports, and Texas car insurance rates are also middle of the pack compared to other locations.
Our quotes used Texas’ minimum liability limits of $30,000/$60,000 for bodily injury and $25,000 for property damage, and excluded medical payment, personal injury protection, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages. We used $1,000 deductibles for collision and comprehensive coverages. These premiums are meant to give you an idea of what basic car insurance for college students may cost with that provider, but rates can change based on your unique situation and needs.
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