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Best Car Insurance for College Students

College students can save money and stay protected with the best auto coverage at the best price.

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BYRyan Tronier/ LAST UPDATED ON May 16, 2022
Best Car Insurance for College Students

While you always plan on making it home, to work, to class, or anywhere without incident, there’s always a chance something can go wrong. You might have the best of intentions yet make a small mistake. Other times, someone else damages your car, but due to some unfair circumstances in the universe, you’re stuck with the bill.

Insurance is required by law. It also protects you financially in case of an accident or damage to your car, whether it’s your fault or someone else’s. When shopping for insurance, the cost is a significant factor, but it’s not the only place to look. Here’s a look at the best car insurance for college students to keep you protected on the road.

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Our Top Picks

Best Customer Service: State Farm

Pros

  • High ratings for customer service and support
  • Bundle discounts with other types of coverage
  • A huge, stable insurer with an excellent reputation
  • Young-driver and safe-driving discounts available

Cons

  • Sometimes not the cheapest option
  • Not available in Massachusetts or Rhode Island

Summary

A large insurance company with a good reputation and great discounts for young drivers with a safe record.

State Farm is one of the biggest and most recognizable insurance companies in the United States. Founded in 1922, the company has a long history with auto, home, life, and other types of insurance. It offers a combination of discounts that can make it an affordable option for young drivers who desire excellent coverage.

Young drivers in college may qualify for teen-driver discounts, safe-driving discounts, and good-grade discounts. It could wind up being your cheapest option when you add them all up. But even if it is a little more than others, the excellent customer service and extensive insurance coverage options are a big draw. It also offers rideshare insurance if you’re driving for Uber or Lyft, a must for side hustlers who make a little money driving when not in class.

State Farm ranked as the top insurance company for customer service in several regions in the annual J.D. Power U.S. Auto Insurance Study and above average for claims satisfaction. Overall, excellent customer service and several student discounts make it a top choice for auto coverage in college.

Best Pay Per Mile: Metromile

Pros

  • Only pay a small monthly fee when you don’t drive much
  • Limited daily mileage charge so you don’t pay too much on road trips
  • App features to track and monitor your car

Cons

  • Can be more expensive if you drive a lot
  • Driving monitored at all times

Summary

With a mileage tracking device in your car, Metromile makes insurance cheap for good drivers who don’t put on many miles. 

Metromile is an innovative pay-per-mile insurance company. Insurance coverage at Metromile relies on a fixed monthly fee plus a per-mile charge. This is great for people who don’t drive much, as you’ll likely pay very little when your car is parked. If you drive an average number of miles, you may still find savings over traditional insurance.

While it’s set to be acquired by Lemonade, I hope the pay-per-mile program lives on as is and adds to the offerings at Lemonade. Metromile requires a physical tracker device to be plugged into your vehicle’s computer port, but it only takes a few moments to plug it in yourself. Metromile only uses the mileage for billing purposes but does track your driving to make the system work, including speed, hard braking, rapid acceleration, and location.

It comes with some handy benefits if you’re OK with the tracker. For example, it’s instrumental in finding your car in the event it’s stolen. It also sends a notification to your phone if your vehicle has any engine problems noticed by the car’s computer. For low- to moderate-mileage drivers, Metromile is worth considering.

Best for Military Families: USAA

Pros

  • Opportunity to qualify for low rates
  • Strong reputation for customer service
  • Specialized for military veterans and their families
  • Also good for banking

Cons

  • Not available if you don’t have a connection to the U.S. armed forces

Summary

An excellent insurance company exclusively available to veterans and their families.

USAA is an insurance company that operates in every state in the U.S. It is known for reasonable rates and excellent customer service. The catch is that you have to be a military veteran or the child of a veteran to sign up (being a grandchild of a veteran doesn’t count; I checked for myself once). If you have that connection, you will likely want to pounce on the opportunity to use USAA.

According to one comparison, USAA is about 42 percent cheaper than the national average. However, as with all insurance providers, your rates are likely higher if you’ve had a ticket, been at fault for accidents, or have other big “oops” moments on your driving record. Depending on your situation, there’s never a guarantee that USAA or any other insurer is the cheapest without doing a little shopping around.

The company maintains extremely strong ratings for financial stability and customer satisfaction. There are discounts for safe drivers, taking an approved driver’s education course, maintaining good grades, or bundling with renter’s insurance, among others.

Best Cheap Insurance Coverage: Geico

Pros

  • Strong reputation for offering low-cost insurance coverage
  • Good choice for drivers with low credit scores
  • Strong ratings for customer satisfaction

Cons

  • Some complaints about the claims process
  • No gap or rideshare coverage

Summary

As the commercials say, Geico probably will save you money when switching from another insurance company, but it isn’t perfect for everyone.

If cost is your biggest priority, you’ll want to get a quote from Geico to compare on your list. Geico is a national insurance company that consistently comes in as one of the cheapest options for many applicants. Of course, your driving record and unique situation could lead to higher rates in some cases. In addition to providing laughs from that talking gecko in the commercials, Geico generally offers great customer service and maintains above-average ratings for customer satisfaction from J.D. Power.

Geico is part of Warren Buffett’s mega-conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, which also owns several other insurance companies and maintains high financial stability ratings. When shopping for coverage from Geico and elsewhere, it’s not necessarily wise to pick the cheapest possible policy. Make sure you have extensive enough coverage that you don’t have to worry about money in the event of an accident.

Best for Working With an Agent: Allstate

Pros

  • An extensive network of agents across the country
  • A large set of potential discounts for students
  • Bundle discounts and rideshare insurance coverage offered

Cons

  • Below-average customer satisfaction ratings
  • Can be more expensive than competitors
  • You can’t sign up for a policy entirely online yourself

Summary

Allstate is a good choice if you want to work with a local insurance agent and have someone nearby to reach out to for questions and help with claims.

Allstate is a large, storied insurance company that ranks as one of the largest auto insurers in the U.S. It is best for college students looking to work with a local agent rather than handle their insurance needs themselves online.

When working with Allstate, you are assigned a local insurance agent to help you with questions about your coverage and guide you through the claims process when needed. It can be competitively priced, particularly when you consider good student and safe driver discounts, but it’s often not the cheapest option.

Allstate is a financially stable insurer with 10 percent of the overall insurance market in the U.S. Good drivers with low mileage may be able to save with the Drivewise mileage-based program. If you want to do everything yourself online, Allstate isn’t for you. It’s better for those who want to work with a human for their insurance needs.

Best Online Experience: Lemonade

Pros

  • Online insurance with a technology-driven experience
  • Competitive pricing that’s better when you drive safely
  • Bundle discounts with renters insurance

Cons

  • No in-person customer service is available
  • Few financial stability and customer service ratings from trusted agencies
  • Only available in Illinois and Tennessee

Summary

An easy-to-use online insurance company that’s a good choice but only available in two states.

Lemonade is a newer entrant to the auto insurance market and is only available in Illinois and Tennessee. If you happen to have a permanent address in one of those states (from your parents or your school), you are eligible to sign up. If you can find the right combination of cost and coverage, Lemonade is a great choice.

Lemonade relies on an app on your phone to track your driving and offers lower premiums to safer drivers. Lower mileage drivers also save, which is great if you mostly walk or bike to class. You can also bundle with your renter’s insurance to save on both. Signup and claims are handled entirely online.

As a perk, all plans include free roadside assistance and emergency assistance. There are also some eco-friendly features, including discounts for drivers with a hybrid or EV, and the company has a fun tree-planting program to partially offset the carbon emissions from customers’ cars. It would show up higher on this list if it were available in more locations, but I imagine it’s coming to a state near you sometime soon.

Best for Roadside Assistance: AAA Auto Insurance

Pros

  • Competitive rates and good customer service ratings
  • Includes highly rated AAA roadside assistance services
  • Extensive options for varying coverage needs

Cons

  • AAA membership required
  • Works through a complex network of regional clubs
  • Not all regions earn the same high ratings

Summary

If you’re worried about getting stuck with a broken-down car, flat tire, or lockout, it’s hard to beat AAA. They also offer decent car insurance policies.

AAA could put you at ease if you are going to college far from home and worry about having car trouble without your family nearby for help. AAA Insurance is only available to AAA members who also have access to its excellent roadside assistance program.

The biggest downside to AAA is the membership requirement, making your insurance more expensive. It also operates through a disjointed network of regional auto clubs, and not all provide the same great products, pricing, and service. For example, California’s AAA is highly rated for customer satisfaction, but AAA in the Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin region get the worst scores among competitors.

If you want AAA for roadside assistance, it’s likely worth comparing rates to see if it is also suitable for your vehicle insurance. Your experience will vary, depending on where you live.

Key Features of Car Insurance for College Students

  • Coverage and limits: Coverage explains what type of damages and liabilities are covered by your insurance, such as accidents that are your fault, the fault of another driver without insurance, medical expenses, a rental car while yours is in the shop, and other features. Higher coverage limits lead to higher costs but are often worthwhile.
  • Premiums and deductibles: Premiums are the monthly payment (or another schedule) to have insurance. A deductible is how much you have to pay before insurance coverage kicks in for a claim. For example, if you have a $3,000 repair and $500 deductible, you would pay the first $500 and your insurance would cover the remaining $2,500. You pay a higher premium for a lower deductible.
  • Support if you’re in an accident or file a claim: What happens if you’re in an accident? Who do you call? Does someone come to help, or is everything done on the phone or online? There is no best way here, just what you prefer.
  • Signup process and customer service: If you like an online experience where you figure things out, there are better options than others. The same goes for people who prefer to work with an agent who can help them pick their insurance and deal with claims, and a wide range of options in between.
  • Financial stability and customer ratings: Large, stable insurers are most likely to be able to pay a large claim and stay in business for the long haul. You can look to online sites like TrustPilot, Yelp, or the Better Business Bureau to see what past customers have to say.
  • Available locations: Insurance laws in the United States are complex, and insurance is sold on a state-by-state basis. All insurers don’t work in all states.

Average Cost

The cost of car insurance for college students varies widely based on your driving record, car, location, insurance company, and policy. According to insurance broker The Zebra, drivers between the ages of 16 and 25 pay the highest rates of any age group. In a survey of eight top insurance companies, the average rate for a college student was $363 per month, paid every six months.

How to Save on Insurance

College students might not qualify for a discount for being married, but there are plenty of discounts to consider. Those include:

  • Safe-driver discount
  • Good-student/good-grades discount
  • Low-mileage discount
  • Discount for primary drivers living away from vehicle

Essential Cost Variables for Insurance

Age

Younger drivers typically pay more for car insurance, as they tend to have more accidents. That’s likely due to less experience, among other factors. While you can’t control your age, you can plan on costs going down as you get older.

Gender

According to statistics, men tend to be more dangerous when driving than women do. Even if you’re a safe driver yourself, the young men before you made sure men pay more than women for car insurance.

Credit Score

Your credit score signals financial responsibility, and those with lower credit scores tend to have more accidents. With good credit, you can save on insurance.

Location

Urban areas and locations with more crime and auto claims will have higher insurance rates than safe and boring rural areas. The ZIP code you list for your car’s home address is used for this factor in the calculation.

Vehicle/Model

More expensive cars to repair and replace tend to have higher insurance rates. Also, certain makes and models involved in more accidents tend to draw higher rates. For example, you’ll probably pay more to insure a flashy coupe than a hand-me-down minivan.

Type of Coverage

While certain minimum coverage levels are required by law, savvy insurance buyers don’t just get the minimum. You’ll pay a higher rate for more extensive coverage, but that’s often well worth the cost if you ever have to file a claim.

FAQs

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers. 

Q. Do college students out of state need auto insurance?

A. If you plan to drive a car you or your family owns, it’s essential to have insurance. Even if you’re going to school out of state, you can likely remain on your parents' insurance policy. If you’re lucky, they won’t make you pay them for it.

Q. Is the best auto insurance the cheapest auto insurance?

A. The best coverage is often more costly than the cheapest plan available. Low coverage levels can lead to higher out-of-pocket costs in the event of an accident.

Q. How much does car insurance for college students cost?

A. The cost of car insurance for college students starts at around $200 per month. According to one recent study, the average price is $363 per month.

Q. Is car insurance needed for college students without a car?

A. If you don’t have a car, you may not need auto insurance coverage. However, if you plan to drive other people’s cars, including rental cars or your friends’ cars, you might want to consider getting a special car insurance policy for drivers who don’t own a vehicle.

Our Methodology

To choose the best companies and products for this list, I looked at a large number of financial products from various providers. I focused on cost, product features and options, ease of use, customer service, and past customer ratings as the most important factors in my ratings.

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