Labor Day is over, your pencils are sharpened, and lying poolside is just a memory: That’s right, it’s officially back-to-school season. Many student drivers, especially in college, may not know much about the process that is car insurance, because—let’s be honest—lots of students are lucky enough to have their parents take care of that nonsense. However, understanding car insurance is crucial for many reasons—plus, no one wants Mom and Dad to take care of them forever, right? So consider class in session.
First Things First: Which Car Do You Need?
Let’s start with the basics: car buying. When perusing the car lots, keep in mind that the type of car you decide on has a huge impact on how much your car insurance will cost. Need proof? Forbes just named the Jeep Wrangler Sport the cheapest car to insure in 2014, while the most expensive was the Nissan GT-R Track Edition, clocking in at a staggering premium of $3,169. As a bonus, U.S. News and World Report‘s Jamie Page Deaton reports that companies like Honda that make cars that are affordable to insure also “offer new grads or students that are four months away from graduating and who have employment offers flexible lease and financing terms on new and certified pre-owned Hondas.” Toyota and Acura offer similar financing options. Besides the make and model you choose, other things that will keep your car insurance rates low include buying used and selecting safety features like anti-theft systems and anti-lock brakes. This handy chart details which insurance gives discounts for which safety features.
The Single Easiest Way to Save as a Student
So now that we have our car, let’s talk insurance. Unfortunately, the statistics show that for drivers under the age of 25, there’s a significantly higher risk for accidents. As a result, the age group of 16 – 25 year-olds will face the highest insurance rates in the country. The only other age group that comes close is 85+! Perhaps the easiest way to save a ton on your insurance is to hop on your parent’s policy, as many insurance companies offer multiple-policy discounts that Mom and Pop may be utilizing. If that’s not an option for you, consider checking out pay-as-you-go insurance, like Metromile.
Other Insurance Savings
So whether you’re on your parents’ policy or you’re doing it for yourself—how can you save some bucks? The great news is that many car insurance companies offer discounts for students: Generally speaking, the “good student” discount ensures discounts up to 20 percent with a B average. And if you complete driver’s education – there’s another discount! Another factor you may not have considered? An average of 13.7 percent of students go out of state for college. Dave Carpenter of USA Today says that for those leaving the nest, the resident student discount is a great way to save: “Premiums may be reduced by 10 percent to 20 percent if the student attends a college more than 100 miles away and doesn’t take a car.” Remember, lots of discounts doesn’t necessarily mean having the lowest premium – so shop around and make sure you’re finding a good deal that won’t break the bank. One final thing to keep in mind? Where your school is located also affects your insurance rates! The National Association of Insurance Commissioners found Washington D.C. as the most expensive, and North Dakota as the least expensive. Rurals schools will also have more inexpensive rates than urban campuses. (The insurance companies know more traffic means more possibility for pricey accidents.)
Bonus Saving Hacks
So you’ve got our car; your insurance is locked and loaded. But let’s be honest: You’re still a cash-strapped college student. What are some other ways to save on campus-related transportation costs? First off, remember that many campuses are built with walking in mind. (To those of you moaning a little bit: You’ve heard the statistics about how bad sitting is for you in large doses, right?) Design your course schedule with walking in mind, and reap health and pocketbook benefits alike. Got a ton of new friends from a sorority or dorm? Consider carpooling whenever possible. And don’t forget to look into your city’s public transportation options. Chances are they’re more robust than you assume. Finally, consider moving as close as possible to campus: University parking permits can cause a serious dent in your wallet.
As you settle into your semester, make sure that all things insurance are taken care of so you can set your eyes on the full-time job that is school. It can be tricky to navigate the world of insurance as a young person. Ask questions, shop around, and find what works for you. Any tips we forgot to include? We’re handing out extra credit for comments below.