Going to college can be full of changes, especially if you’re moving out of your parents’ house to live on campus. One of the biggest changes for many students is financial. With tuition, room and board, and textbooks, money can disappear quickly. And you’re probably not thinking about how car insurance fits into your budget. If you’re on your parents’ plan, do you know if you’re getting the best car insurance rate as a college student?
If you’re a parent or responsible for a new college student, you may want them to add some additional responsibility to their college experience—by having them find their own car insurance. But with some insurance carriers charging young drivers more for insurance based on their age, parents may be wondering if their student can afford coverage on their own or if there are cheap car insurance options available.
Here’s what parents and new college students need to know about having a car on campus, insuring it, and how Root can help with your car insurance needs during school and after graduation.
Should a college student have their own car insurance?
First of all, you should always have car insurance if you drive a car—period. Driving without insurance is illegal (unless you’re in New Hampshire).
As a college student, you and your parent(s) need to decide if you’ll stay on their policy or if you’ll get your own. Here are some things to think about before you buy car insurance for the first time.
Do you own a car?
When you purchase a car, you get a title that says who owns the vehicle. If your parents bought you a car, that doesn’t automatically mean the title is under your name. When it comes to new drivers under 21, or even under 25, you’re most likely under one of these categories:
- The title is under a parent’s name
- The title is under a parent’s name and the student’s name
- The title is under the student’s name
For the first two scenarios, you may be able to stay on your parents’ insurance. But, if you own the car, you’ll probably need your own car insurance.
What’s your address?
Some students keep their permanent address as their parents’ house, even if they are moving on campus. If this is the case for you, or you’re a commuter student, you may be able to stay on your parents’ insurance.
But consider this—if you’re ever in an accident, you could run into issues when you file a claim. Some insurance companies could deny your claim if you aren’t honest about where you’re living. Additionally, the location of your vehicle could play a part in your overall rate when you buy insurance. If you plan to stay on your parents’ insurance, you’ll need to make sure your insurance company knows you’re temporarily living on campus.
Could you just rideshare everywhere?
Whether you’re a college student or a parent of one, you may be wondering about the logistics of having and insuring a car on campus. There are many questions to ask yourself before making a decision.
Having a car when you live on campus may make it easier to travel on the weekends, but may be inconvenient when finding a place to park and paying for a parking pass. Every situation is different, but here are some things to consider before you bring a car to college with you.
Pros of using rideshare services
- Cost of rides: If you’re riding to local spots, short trips may not be expensive. Many ridesharing services offer estimates on their websites if you know your destination ahead of time.
- No car hassles: If you’re going to use a rideshare app whenever you need to travel, you don’t need to bring a car to campus. That means you could save money on gas, maintenance, and school or city parking passes. You also don’t need to worry about finding a parking spot or giving people rides.
Cons of using rideshare services
- Cost of rides: On the flip side, if you’re using Uber or Lyft late at night or on weekends, you could see surcharges in your rate. These extra rideshare fees can add up quickly.
- Unpredictable service: Your experience using ridesharing services could vary based on the location of your college. Getting a rideshare in a rural or smaller town may be more difficult than a major city. With some cities banning ridesharing services to and from the airport, or in cities altogether, you can’t guarantee that service will always be available.
- The scoring system: You can rate your rideshare driver between 1-5 stars (with 5 being the best) after a ride. But they can also rate you. If a driver gives you a low score, other drivers may not want to pick you up in the future, which could leave you stranded.
Car insurance for college students without credit
If you haven’t bought a car, paid for car insurance, or opened a credit card, you may have trouble finding an affordable car insurance rate because of your credit score. Even if you’re not a new driver, credit scores can be used by insurance carriers to help determine what you’ll pay for your car insurance. Without a credit history, some carriers may label you as a higher risk, resulting in a higher rate. Learn how your credit score could impact your car insurance rate.
Buying car insurance for the first time
If you’re taking the first step to buying car insurance, you’ve come to the right place. Our insurance blog goes over coverage basics and can help you choose the right coverage for your needs (and state requirements).
Maybe you’ve heard the term “full coverage” when it comes to car insurance. Well, “full coverage” isn’t actually a coverage you can buy, but most people use this term for Liability, Collision, and Comprehensive coverage.
What is Liability coverage?
All states (except New Hampshire) legally require Liability coverage as the minimum car insurance you can have on the road. This coverage helps you pay for damages if you’re found at fault for an accident. The amount of Liability coverage you need varies by state, but the Root app will make sure you have the minimum required by your state.
Liability has two parts: Bodily Injury and Property Damage.
- Bodily Injury: Helps cover medical expenses, lost wages, and funeral expenses for others involved in an accident you caused.
- Property Damage: Helps cover damage to someone else’s property from an accident you caused.
What is Collision coverage?
If you cause an accident, Collision will help you pay for repairs to your car. It also helps if your car is damaged in a hit-and-run or if your car is hit by someone driving without insurance. Collision is not required in any state, but you may need to purchase it if you lease your car or had to take out a loan to pay for your car.
What is Comprehensive coverage?
If your car is damaged by anything that’s not an accident, Comprehensive coverage can help repair the damage. Think of hail damage, vandalism, and even a cracked windshield. (But don’t purposely damage your car—it won’t be covered under your insurance, anyway.) If you park your car outside regularly, this may be good coverage for you.
How Root works
At Root, we’re not fans of using stereotypes to rate drivers. We believe that better drivers deserve better rates, and we’ve made it easy for drivers like you to get a better rate. Here’s how it works:
- Download the Root app to your smartphone and make an account—it takes less than a minute.
- Drive like you normally would. We use sensors in your smartphone to determine your safe driving habits over a short period of time.
- Get your final rate that’s based primarily on how you drive, not only demographics like ZIP code, age, marital status, or gender. Some of our customers have reported savings of up to 52%.
Plus, we offer some great benefits to our customers:
- Roadside Assistance included with every policy
- Easy management of your policy through the app
- Lyft credits on select holidays
- Bonus offers for referring friends
Coverages not available in all states. Lyft credits not available in North Dakota. Root does not endorse any third-party content. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. The information contained in this Root blog is provided for educational purposes only.