College is a serious investment, with the average college student in the school year of 2019-2020 spending approximately $33,000 per year on tuition, fees, and room and board, according to the research website EducationData.org. Add on top of that other costs of living, such as travel, clothing, and cell phone bills, and it’s easy to see why college students struggle to cover additional expenses. And car insurance can be a big additional expense.
In the search for cheap car insurance for college students, we analyzed data from more than 20 notable national brands to find the 6 companies recommended here, comparing average premiums, the availability of student discounts, customer satisfaction, and more.
Below you'll find auto insurance offers available from our advertising partners, followed by our complete in-depth list of the best car insurance companies we've found for college students.
Best Car Insurance for College Students of 2021
Best Overall : Allstate
According to the Insurance Information Institute, Allstate is the 4th largest auto insurance provider in the nation. With nearly 10% of the market share, it’s no surprise that Allstate provides thorough coverage and significant discounts for college students.
Pros and Cons
Coverage and discounts specifically for college students
Great mobile app
Available in all 50 states
Higher than average premiums in some states
Below average ratings for claims satisfaction
As one of the leading car insurance companies in the nation, Allstate offers everything from bare-bones coverage to a full package. Some of Allstate’s perks include a roadside assistance package that includes towing, battery restart, and rental car reimbursement. Allstate also offers rideshare insurance, which is useful for students who drive for a Transportation Network Company (TNC), such as Uber or Lyft, to make some extra money.
We selected Allstate as the “best overall for college students” because of the discounts it offers specifically for them. These include:
- A Smart Student Discount of up to 25% for those who maintain a B average, successfully complete the teenSMART educational program, or attend college at least 100 miles from where their car is garaged;
- The Milewise Program bases premiums on the number of miles you drive per month, which can ultimately save college students who live on campus a lot of money.
As the 4th largest auto insurance company in the nation, with more than 15,000 local agents, Allstate offers car insurance policies in all 50 states. Due to the company’s structuring, though, you can only enroll in insurance through an Allstate agent. If you’d rather have an exclusively online experience, you can still get many of the same benefits of Allstate through Esurance, its partner company.
Allstate maintains an A+ (Superior) rating of financial strength from AM Best. and the company received above-average ratings from J.D. Power's 2020 Auto Claims Satisfaction Study. Allstate does maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and has resolved all of the complaints filed with it in the past three years.
Read the full review: Allstate Car Insurance
Best Cheap Car Insurance : GEICO
For college students looking to snag cheap car insurance, GEICO is hands down the best option out there. With some of the lowest average premiums in the industry, GEICO stands by its claim that 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.
Pros and Cons
Highly competitive rates
High customer satisfaction ratings
Available in all 50 states
Mediocre student discount
Limited access to local agents
GEICO not only offers what each state requires; it also has a plethora of coverage amounts and types. In addition to all of the standard car insurance policies, GEICO offers emergency roadside assistance, mechanical breakdown coverage, rideshare insurance, and gap insurance, not to mention other policies such as renters and homeowners insurance.
Even though GEICO already offers some of the lowest rates in the industry, it has an extensive list of nearly 20 discounts. While the only discount specifically for college students is the 15% Good Student discount, students can still benefit from the regular discounts, including discounts for cars equipped with safety features and discounts for those who bundle GEICO policies or stay with the company for years.
GEICO’s car insurance policies are available in all 50 states. However, students with a troubled driving record, such as a history of speeding tickets, may have trouble obtaining GEICO coverage, so it’s best to obtain an online quote before planning to switch.
GEICO consistently receives high ratings from both its customers and industry experts. The company maintains an A++ rating in financial strength with AM Best. Furthermore, J.D. Power awarded GEICO with the top spot in its 2020 Insurance Shopping Study.
Read the full review: GEICO Car Insurance
Best Discounts for Students : State Farm
State Farm is the number one private passenger auto insurance company in the U.S., with a 16.1% share of the market in 2019. However, college students can especially benefit from the company’s Good Student and Student Away at School discounts, which can net more than 25% savings on annual car insurance rates for students under the age of 25.
Pros and Cons
Specific discounts for college students
Rideshare insurance available
Mediocre claims satisfaction ratings
Required to work through local agents
As you’d expect from the largest insurance company in the nation, State Farm offers the most common types of auto insurance. In addition to all of the main types of car insurance, the company also offers gap insurance, emergency roadside assistance, rental car and travel expense reimbursement, and rideshare insurance for Lyft and Uber drivers.
Although State Farm offers a number of discounts to help make its competitive rates even better, its college students can save the most money, thanks to the company’s impressive 25% Good Student Discount for high school and college students who maintain good grades. State Farm also offers a Student Away Discount that gives families even more savings when they insure a college student who only uses the car when they’re not away at school. Finally, State Farm’s Steer Clear discount can save drivers under 25 who maintain a clean driving record an additional 15%.
State Farm car insurance for college students is available in all 50 states. However, the company doesn’t work like most other corporate insurance providers, who offer insurance through a central headquarters. Instead, State Farm wants to provide its advertised “good neighbor” experience by having all of its insured drivers work through a local agent. This can sometimes be a deal-breaker for college students who end up hundreds of miles from home for their studies.
State Farm maintains a top rating from AM Best for financial health. The J.D. Power 2020 Auto Insurance Study placed the company at the top for the Mid-Atlantic and New York regions, and average or above for most of the other regions.
Read the full review: State Farm Car Insurance
Best for Infrequent Drivers : Metromile
In case you haven’t heard of the company, Metromile is a California-based car insurance provider that specializes in policies for drivers who travel fewer than 10,000 miles per year. While this makes its service a very niche market, Metromile is a viable option for college students who don’t drive frequently while on campus.
Pros and Cons
Premiums based on your actual driving time
Useful smartphone app
Only available in eight states
Not ideal for students who drive back and forth to campus
Metromile offers all of the standard types of car insurance coverage with a slight twist: Your rate is based on your driving time each month. How? The company charges you a base rate and a small fee per mile. All you do is install Metromile’s Pulse device in your car, then use the smartphone app, available from both Apple App Store (4.7 stars, 18,000 ratings) and Google Play (3.9 stars, 800+ ratings), to track your mileage.
In addition to this unusual payment structure, Metromile offers many perks, including roadside assistance, towing coverage, rental car reimbursement, and a $0 deductible on glass repairs. Its smartphone app can help you locate your parked vehicle and gives you updates on your car’s health, which is especially beneficial to college students, who may not know a lot about car maintenance.
As Metromile only charges you based on your actual driving time, the company doesn’t offer a lot of additional discounts. Still, it does cap your per-day max cost at 250 miles (150 miles in New Jersey), so customers never have to worry about excessive fees for occasional road trips.
Unfortunately, Metromile is currently only available in eight states: Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. Further narrowing the field, Metromile’s device requires an ODB-II diagnostic port, so only drivers with a vehicle from model year 1996 or later qualify.
Metromile is not rated by J.D. Power or AM Best. However, the company does maintain an A+ rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau. Metromile also holds a 4.4 out of 5 stars (“excellent”) rating for financial strength from Consumer Advocate.
Best Family Policy : Auto-Owners Insurance
With more than 100 years in the industry, Auto-Owners Insurance is one of the longest-standing car insurance providers in the United States. Although coverage is only available in 26 states, its student discounts provide a useful option for college kids who are still on their parents’ insurance plans.
Pros and Cons
Specific discounts for college students
Long-standing history of customer satisfaction
Good add-on policies
Only available in 26 states
Limited options for tech-savvy customers
As a standard insurance provider, Auto-Owners offers all of the standard car insurance products most drivers are looking for. The company also has a number of coverage perks, such as roadside assistance, towing coverage, rental car reimbursement, gap coverage, and diminished car value coverage.
In particular, Auto-Owners offers an add-on policy called the Personal Automobile Plus Package. It includes coverage for stolen personal items in your vehicle, identity theft, cell phones lost or damaged during a wreck, and more. For families worried about theft or damage to a car sitting on campus, this can be a helpful policy to add.
Like most other car insurance companies on this list, Auto-Owners offers several discounts. What’s more, some of its biggest discounts apply directly to college students. The company’s Good Student Discount saves students with a B average (or better) up to 20%, and the Student Away at School Discount offers additional savings for students who attend school more than 100 miles from home without a vehicle.
Auto-Owners only operates in 26 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Auto-Owners Insurance has pretty good customer satisfaction ratings. J.D. Power places it above the industry average for claims satisfaction in the Insurance Shopping Study for 2020 and above average in 3 regions in which it operates in the 2020 Auto Insurance Study (it was rated below average in the Florida region. And the company is rated A++ by AM Best for financial health.
One area in which Auto-Owners doesn’t shine is its tech options. The company has a decent website with some customer access, but it doesn’t offer a smartphone app.
Best for Military Members : USAA
For college students who served in the military, are enrolled in an ROTC program, or are the children or spouses of military members, current or former, USAA car insurance offers some of the industry’s lowest premiums along with outstanding customer service. Indeed, J.D. Power placed USAA as one of its top-rated carriers nationwide based on claims satisfaction.
Pros and Cons
Highly competitive rates
Great website and mobile app
Coverage limited to current and former military and their families
No local agent network
USAA offers the required minimum car insurance for college students. The company also provides additional coverage, such as 24/7 roadside assistance, towing coverage, and rideshare insurance for Lyft and Uber drivers.
As USAA also offers banking services and health insurance, among other products, it gives preoccupied college students who need to keep everything organized in one place a one-stop shopping opportunity.
USAA offers significant discounts, although it doesn’t have many discounts specifically for students. One that does fill the bill is the Good Student discount, which is for high school and college students (ages 16-25) who maintain a B average. There is also a Family Discount of 10% for insured members who start their own policy after being covered by their parents' USAA auto policy.
Although USAA’s coverage spans all 50 states, enrollment is exclusive for military members and their spouses and children. However, USAA does include ROTC members in its eligibility list, so students who plan to join the armed forces upon graduation can still save with USAA while they go to college.
USAA car insurance consistently receives top marks for its customer service and claims satisfaction. J.D. Power gave USAA one of the highest ratings, 890 out of 1,000 points, on its 2020 Claims Satisfaction Survey, and U.S. News & World Report lists USAA as its number one pick for car insurance in 2020. (Note: GEICO, Allstate, and State Farm were also rated highly by U.S. News.)
Read the full review: USAA Car Insurance
How Much Is The Average Car Insurance for College Students?
Car insurance rates are typically based on several factors, including the driver’s age, driving history, credit score, and geographic location. Insurance rates can change drastically based on the specifics of the vehicle you’re insuring and the coverage amounts you select.
Because of those factors, car insurance costs fluctuate from customer to customer. However, costs can be considerably higher for new drivers and college-age individuals. According to an investing and personal finance blog for millennials, the average 20-year-old paid $3,816 (or $318 per month) for car insurance in 2020 compared with $2,184 for the average 25-yr-old.
Many car insurance companies are offering discounts, refunds, credits, and waiving fees, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reach out to your insurance company, or a prospective company, to find out what options are available to you.
What Does Car Insurance Cover?
While there are always some exceptions to the rule, most car insurance policies will cover the following:
- Damage to your car and other vehicles involved in an accident with you, which falls under property liability and collision coverage
- Injuries to yourself or others involved in an accident with you, which falls under bodily injury liability and personal injury protection
- Theft and other damages to your vehicle that happen when parked or not moving, which falls under comprehensive coverage
- The current value of your vehicle in the event of a total loss
Some of the above-listed coverages are optional in some states, so it’s important to have a thorough knowledge of your coverage selections when enrolling in an auto insurance policy. Furthermore, it’s important to know that car insurance does not cover repairs, vehicle maintenance, vehicle interiors, and after-market and nonstandard parts (unless specified in the policy).
Do College Students Need Car Insurance?
Pretty much anyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle at any time is required to carry car insurance, as all but two states require some form of it. Even if a student only plans to drive a family vehicle when home from college on break, that student needs to be on a car insurance policy.
Some colleges and universities do not permit freshman students to park a car in campus parking lots. Check your school's policy ahead of time.
Do College Students Get Discounts on Car Insurance?
Although exact discounts vary among car insurance providers, many companies do offer discounts that specifically apply to college students. A popular one is a discount for being a good student, which provides a rate reduction for students who maintain a certain grade point average. Furthermore, some car insurance companies offer discounts for college students who attend college away from home and only drive a family vehicle occasionally.
Can College Students Stay on Their Parents' Insurance?
In some cases, college students can remain on a car insurance policy with their parents. This can save significant amounts of money, but families need to make sure that their situation meets the eligibility requirements.
If a student is living at home and driving a car that’s titled to a parent, then they can typically stay on their parents' car insurance policy. This oftentimes even applies to students who stay in a dorm during the school year or attend school out of state. However, if the name on the vehicle’s title is that of the student and their primary address is not the same as their parents’ primary residence, many car insurance companies will not allow students to remain on a family policy. Always check with the company you use before assuming anything about your policy and what is or is not allowed.
Although car insurance for college students can cost a pretty penny, there are ways to save money on it. While we highly recommend the 6 insurance providers on this list, drivers should always compare rates before selecting a car insurance provider.
How We Chose the Best Car Insurance for College Students
When selecting the best car insurance for college students, we compared average premiums and student discount rates for nearly 20 different car insurance companies. We also evaluated each company’s standing with 4 rating agencies: Better Business Bureau, AM Best, J.D. Power, and Consumer Advocate.