Car Insurance for Students

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What is car insurance for students?

If you’re a student, whether you're in high school, college, or grad school, the last thing you on your mind is car insurance. Between tests, homework and that ever-impending "life plan" your parents keep talking about, who really has time to care about insurance rates? But, actually, being a student can have major implications on your auto insurance. So, let’s get it to — here are your cliff notes of car insurance as a student.

Our agenda for today:

What’s car insurance like for a college student?

Car insurance as a college student is probably the most tricky of the insurance periods you’ll go through. This is because so much can depend on you and what you’re doing. While we will cover which companies are the cheapest, let’s start with the most basic question; do you need your own policy?

Do you need to get off your parent's policy?

Yes No
If you’re living out of your parent’s house and are driving a car full-time, you gotta get your own insurance policy. Bottom line. If your insurance company finds out you’re living outside of your parent's house with a vehicle, especially if you file a claim, you risk having your coverage or claim denied. Unlike things like health insurance, you are never removed from your parent’s car insurance simply because you age. So, if you’re not driving outside of their residence, you can stay on their policy. For example, you’re going to a college within the same city, or if you’re away at college but are not driving, you can stay on their policy. 

If you have your own policy but come home for the holidays, you would still be covered under your parent’s policy under most insurance companies. Because you’re not using your parent’s car regularly and you don’t live at the residence, you should be covered under their insurance through the permissive use clause (as long as they give you permission).

Helpful hint! If you're going to be more than 100 miles away in college and aren't going to be driving, your parent's can receive a “student away from home” discount if they decide to keep you on their policy. This discount, which varies based on the company you are insured by, will require proof that you’re living away from the residence. Proof can be something simple like a utility bill.

What’s the cheapest company for me?

In order to really look at which company was the cheapest for college-aged students, we decided to conduct our own examination outlined here. Below are the company’s results.

Average Premiums for College Students

Location State Farm All State Geico Progressive Liberty Mutual
Scranton, PA $1,402 $987 $578 $574 $1,584
Columbus, OH $1,087 $1,847 $913 $973 $2,190
Fresno, CA $1,608 $775 $813 $994 $2,136
Aurora, CO $1,690 $1,368 $1,194 $966 $2,130
McKinney, TX $1,260 $1,847 $913 $973 $2,190
Average $1,409 $1,279 $875 $855 $1,865

As you can see, with all other metrics constant, Progressive is the cheapest company for auto insurance for your age group. Consider, however, that Progressive (or even Geico, at number 2), might not be the perfect match for you. You should always shop around for as many companies as possible. Consider our information as a reference point when exploring car insurance for a college student.

Car insurance as a high school student

The big things to consider as a high-school student, which your parents will usually worry about, are when you need to be added to the policy and, of course, how much it will cost. If you didn’t already know, adding a teen driver to any policy will most likely double the insurance bill. This is because insurance companies see teenagers as walking claims and thus charge accordingly for them.

When should I be added to my parent's policy?

While this rule can vary by state and by company, most companies require that once you’re licensed and driving, you need to be added to your parent’s (or your own) policy. Some states, while rare, will require that you be covered even if you just have a permit.

Where can I find cheap car insurance?

You may feel like it’s your not prerogative to find cheap car insurance — as most likely your parents will be covering it. But, consider that if your parents cannot afford car insurance for you, you’re probably not going to be driving anywhere. Which, as a high school student, can hinder your social life. So, if you want to help your parents afford car insurance for you, pay attention.

How much does insurance cost with a 17-year-old driver?

Location State Farm All State Geico Progressive Liberty Mutual
Columbus, OH $1,964 $1,355 $544 $858 $1,002
McKinney, TX $4,065 $4,019 $1,082 $1,075 N/A
Fresno, CA $2,533 $1,088 $1,238 $1,272 $2,919
Scranton, PA $3,015 $1,524 $708 $1,280 $846
Aurora, CO $3,419 $3,490 $1,363 $1,673 $1,935
Average $2,999 $2,295 $987 $1,231 $2,999

Our second survey, outlined here, determined that Geico will be the cheapest for a family — again with all other metrics constant. If your parents are terrified of adding you to your policy, which is entirely understandable as adding a teenager to these policies raised them an average of $4,000 — tell them to look at Geico first.

Additional Discounts

In addition to starting with those companies, you should also consider the Defensive Driver Discount as well as the Good Student Discount. Coupled together, these discounts can save your parents on average of $305! And remember, the more money your parent's save, the cooler of a car you can get. Here is some more information on these discounts.

Good Student Discount: If you have above a 3.0 GPA, you can receive this discount. Insurance companies see teen drivers with better grades as less likely to take risks while driving, which they reward you with by a lowering your premium. Your insurance company will usually require proof, such as a transcript, every 6 months in order to qualify.

Savings for Good Student and Good Driver Discount

Age Average
16 $344
17 $303
18 $267

Defensive Driver Discount: This discount requires you actually take an insurance-approved course regarding defensive driving. Make sure you consult with your insurance company prior to taking a course, just to make sure they offer the discount.

Car insurance for graduate students

There are some differences between getting car insurance as a graduate student versus a college student. First, as a graduate student who has completed a bachelor's degree, you see some insurance savings. This is because how an insurance company sees you as a client with a bachelor’s degree pursuing higher education. To an insurance company, a driver with more education is seen as more financially stable and a better driver - all which reduce the amount of risk you present. Any, anytime you appear less risky to an insurance company, you can expect your premium to be lowered.

Avg Annual Premium in 2016 Based on Education

None High-School Bachelors Masters PhD
$1,355 $1,342 $1,323 $1,320 $1,319

Any major changes to your insurance policy generally has to do with your age. While there is no standard age for graduate students, they’re typically older than undergraduate students. And, to an insurance company, an older driver is a more experienced driver and thus a better client.

So, we wanted to give you some more answers as what to car insurance is really like for this point of your life. So, just like we did with college students, we tested a generalized profile against 5 top insurance companies to see which one was the cheapest for graduate-aged students.

Car Insurance Rates for 25-year-olds

Location State Farm All State Geico Progressive Liberty Mutual
Columbus, PA $861 $974 $487 $571 $1,932
McKinney, TX $1,048 $1,631 $874 $896 $2,760
Fresno, CA $1,345 $710 $746 $866 $1,344
Scranton, PA $1,015 $1,150 $719 $550 $1,554
Aurora, CA $1,443 $1,070 $1,594 $1,151 $2,658
Average $1,142 $1,107 $884 $807 $2,050

As you can see, Geico, not Progressive, is the cheapest. However, just like with the previous case study, you should only use our study as a point of reference when it comes to your personal policy. Every company will respond differently to you and your needs so it’s best to shop around as often as possible in order to find what suits you.

Car Insurance: Throughout the Ages

The important thing to consider with car insurance, regardless if you're a student, is its ability to change as you do. Going through a life event, such as graduating from school or having a birthday, presents new ways to save on auto insurance. Because of this and many other reasons, it's important to shop for car insurance every 6 months in order to ensure you're getting the best possible rate. Only with The Zebra can you shop over 200 companies at once. Start now to see how much you could be saving.

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More resources on how to save as a student

If you're looking for more specifics regarding ways to save on car insurance, see our additional articles here


Zip Codes Used

We randomly selected 5 zip codes in 5 different areas across the US by using the 5 most popular companies in the US based on net premiums written. Here are the zip codes we selected:

  • Columbus, OH - 43216
  • McKinney, TX - 75070
  • Fresno, CA - 75070
  • Scranton, PA - 93722
  • Aurora, CO - 80013

Base profile for College Student
  • Joe's DOB: 08/01/1994
  • Vehicle: 2015 Toyota Carmy, owned, 12,000/year
  • Driving Record: no accidents or citation
  • Education: BA
  • Licensed at: 17
  • Occupation: Marketing Representative
  • Insurance History: 6 years with previous company, limits at 100/300/100

Base Profile: High School Student
  • Parent's DOB: 08/01/1960
  • Mother's Vehicle: 2015 Toyota Sienna LE, owned, 12,000/year
  • Father's Vehicle: 2015 Toyota Crewmax, owned, driving 12,000/year
  • Driving Record: no accidents or citation
  • Education: BA
  • Licensed at: 16
  • Occupation: Manager Level - Accounting
  • Insurance History: Max amount selectable of previous years with insurance company, limits at 100/300/100

Next, we needed to create the profile of the teen drivers; one that is female and male. For this, we took the male and female premiums and averaged them together. Here is the information:

  • Teen's DOB: 08/01/2000
  • Teen's: 2015 Toyota Carmy, owned, 12,000/year
  • Driving Record: no accidents or citation
  • Education: Above B Above
  • Licensed at: 17
  • Occupation: None

Base Profile: Graduate Student
  • DOB: 08/01/1992
  • Vehicle: 2015 Toyota Carmy, owned, 12,000/year
  • Driving Record: no accidents or citation
  • Education: BA
  • Licensed at: 17
  • Occupation: Marketing Representative