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February 19, 2020

Car insurance for college students

In a sea of potential changes—changing your address and your friends, changing your diet, changing your schedule, and even changing your mind—financial challenges are one of the biggest changes many students struggle with in college. 

With tuition, room and board, and textbooks, money can disappear quickly. You’re probably not thinking about how car insurance fits into all of that. 

If you’re a student on your parents’ plan or on your own, how do you know if you’re getting the best car insurance rate?

If you’re a parent or responsible for a new college student, can you add some additional responsibility to their college experience by having them get their own car insurance

With some insurance carriers charging young drivers more for insurance because of their age, parents might be wondering if their students can afford coverage on their own or if there are cheap car insurance options even available. 

What should parents and students know about having a car on campus, insuring it, and having car insurance during school and after graduation?

Student and her dad packing items into the car for the drive to college.

Should college students have their own car insurance?

It’s important to note that driving without insurance is illegal, unless you’re in New Hampshire. So college students need to have insurance just like anyone else. 

As a college student, you and your parent(s) will need to decide if you’ll stay on their policy or if you’ll get your own. There are some considerations to keep in mind before buying car insurance for the first time.

Do you own a car?

When you buy a car, you get a title that lists who owns the vehicle. If your parents bought your car, the title might not be under your name. 

When it comes to new drivers younger than 21 (or even 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 to campus. If this is the case, or if you’re a commuter student, you may be able to stay on your parents’ insurance.

But keep in mind that if you’re ever in an accident, you could run into issues when filing a claim. Some insurance companies could deny your claim, if you aren’t accurate about where you’re living. 

Additionally, the location of your vehicle could play a part in your overall insurance 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.

Can you rideshare everywhere, instead of driving?

Whether you’re a college student or the parent of one, you might be wondering about the logistics of having and insuring a car on campus. 

Having a car when you live on campus might make it easier for weekend travel but could be inconvenient when looking for a place to park or 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 rideshare 

  • Ride costs: If you’re riding to local spots, short trips might be pretty inexpensive. 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. This means saving 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 lifts.

Cons of rideshare 

  • Ride costs: 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 might be more difficult than in a major city. With some cities banning ridesharing services to and from the airport—or in some cities altogether—you can’t guarantee ridesharing will always be available to you.

  • Scoring system: You can rate your rideshare driver 1 to 5 stars after a ride. But, they can also rate you. If a driver gives you a low score, other drivers might 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 could have trouble finding an affordable car insurance rate because of your credit score. 

Even if you’re not a new driver, credit scores are 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.

At Root, we base your rate primarily on your driving. In fact, we’re committed to dropping credit score entirely from our rates by 2025. 

Buying car insurance for the first time

If you’re buying car insurance for the first time, our blog breaks down coverage basics and can help you choose the right coverages for your needs (and state requirements).

Maybe you’ve heard the term “full coverage” in regards to car insurance. Although full coverage isn’t actually a coverage you can buy, most people use this term for having Liability, Collision, and Comprehensive coverages.

Check out all of Root’s coverage options.

What is Liability coverage?

All states except New Hampshire legally require Liability coverage as the minimum car insurance you must have on the road. 

This coverage helps you pay for damages, if you’re found at fault for an accident. The amount of Liability you need varies by state, but the Root app makes sure you meet your state’s minimum requirements.

Liability has two parts: Bodily Injury and Property Damage coverages

  • Bodily Injury: helps cover medical expenses, lost wages, and funeral expenses for others involved in an accident where you’re at fault

  • Property Damage: helps cover damage to someone else’s property from an accident where you’re at fault

Learn more about Liability coverage.

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 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 have had to take out a loan to pay for your car.

Learn more about Collision coverage.

What is Comprehensive coverage?

If your car is damaged by anything that’s not an accident, Comprehensive coverage can help repair the damage. Things like hail damage, vandalism, and even a cracked windshield are covered by Comprehensive. However, if you purposely damage your car, it won’t be covered under your insurance. 

If you park your car outside regularly on campus or at home, it might be a good idea to add Comprehensive coverage to your policy.

Learn more about Comprehensive coverage.

Root bases your rate primarily on how you drive, not who you are

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 price. 

  • Download the Root app to your smartphone and make an account—it takes less than a minute.

  • Drive like you normally would. During the test drive, we use sensors in your smartphone to determine your safe driving habits over a period of time.

  • Get a final rate that’s based primarily on how you drive, not just demographics like ZIP code, age, marital status, credit history or gender. You could save hundreds annually. 

Other great Root benefits built in:

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 blog is provided for educational purposes only.

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