Car insurance for college students can be pretty dang expensive — well over $2,500 a year on average.
But if you find the right provider and snag the best student discounts, you can easily save thousands by the time you graduate.
So let’s do that right now!
Compare the best auto insurance quotes
Best auto insurance for college students
- Best overall: GEICO
- Best for military/ROTC: USAA
- Best for good drivers: State Farm
- Best for full coverage: Allstate
- Best for staying on your parents’ policy: Progressive
- Best for students who barely drive: Metromile
GEICO: Best overall
Why we’re fans: GEICO combines rock-bottom rates, excellent customer service, a solid mobile app, and a litany of student discounts for an overall easy-to-recommend package for college drivers.
- Some of the lowest rates you’ll find for students
- Litany of student discounts, including for members of Greek Life
- Easy-to-use mobile app
- Excellent customer service
- No leave-your-car-at-home discount
Even if you never watch cable, you’ve probably heard GEICO’s catchphrase coming from a gecko or caveman: “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.”
I’m here to tell you it’s true, and on top of that, GEICO offers a nice array of further discounts just for students. You’ll get discounts for maintaining a B average, being a part of a student organization (fraternity or sorority, honor society, etc.), and even a good driver discount if you haven’t had an accident in the last five years.
GEICO may lack one of the newer “leave your car at home” discounts that some competitors offer, but all things considered, rock-bottom rates and good service can’t be beat.
USAA: Best for military/ROTC
Why we’re fans: USAA provides great rates and legendary customer service to students who are actively enlisted, in military families, and/or in ROTC.
- Industry-leading customer service
- Super-low rates
- Military-only (including ROTC)
- Just one student discount (good student)
Put simply, if you qualify for USAA membership while you’re in school, getting an auto insurance quote from them is a no-brainer. There’s a high likelihood they’ll offer you the best rate, too.
That’s because USAA was conceived from the ground up to make life easier for military members and their families. In addition to affordable auto insurance, USAA offers full-fledged banking and investing services plus financial guidance.
Oddly, USAA’s list of student discounts is super short — they offer a good student discount for maintaining a B average (or ranking in the upper 20% of your class) and that’s it. No discount for leaving your car at home, driving safely, nada.
But even still, the rates are so low and the quality of service is so high that USAA is an obvious choice for students in the military.
State Farm: Best for good drivers
Why we’re fans: From Drive Safe & SaveTM to Steer Clear, State Farm offers a ton of discounts and programs to help students who are safe drivers keep their rates down.
- The most good driver/good student discounts out of any on this list
- Save up to 30% on Drive Safe & SaveTM alone
- Good customer service
- Must purchase policy via phone or in-person
- Steer Clear takes more time and effort than a standard defensive driving course
If you’re willing to put in the effort to get the lowest possible rate on auto insurance, State Farm is the provider for you. For starters, they have four passive discounts you might already qualify for:
- Good student
- Student away from home
- Good driver (no at-fault accidents or moving violations)
- Accident-free and good driving (no accidents at all)
On top of those, State Farm also offers two driver safety programs to slash rates further:
- Their telematics program Drive Safe & SaveTM offers an enrollment discount and up to 30% off if you drive safely for six months.
- Steer Clear is like State Farm’s own defensive driving course for students, with lessons, quizzes, and five hours of driving required.
Heck, you’ll even get a discount for taking a regular defensive driving course (which you can knock out in one hour online).
Overall, good drivers who don’t mind taking a couple of classes can score a super low rate with State Farm.
Allstate: Best for full coverage
Why we’re fans: Allstate is a solid “old school” insurance provider for students. You may have to purchase your policy via phone, but you’ll get plenty of student discounts and great rates on full coverage if you’re leasing/financing or need extra protection.
- Great rates on full coverage
- Pay-per-mile option
- Resident student discount for leaving your car at home
- Good grade discount applies up to age 25 (versus the typical 23)
- Must purchase policy via phone or in-person
- No student organization discount
If you’re leasing or financing your car, chances are that the titleholder will require you to have full coverage auto insurance (liability + collision + comprehensive).
That much coverage for folks under 25 can get expensive, so it’s important to shop around for providers that specifically offer good deals on full coverage for students. Allstate is an excellent choice since they offer great rates and a variety of discounts on top of them.
For example, if you barely drive your car at school you can greatly reduce your premiums by opting for Allstate’s pay-per-mile option. And if you need full coverage but you leave your car at home 100+ miles away, you can take advantage of their Resident Student discount.
All things considered, Allstate takes the sticker shock out of full coverage for students.
Progressive: Best for staying on your parents’ policy
Why we’re fans: Progressive may require you to stay on your parents’ policy for student discounts, but if your folks have Progressive, you’re in for some seriously low premiums.
- Good student discount of ~10%
- Distant student discount
- Telematics program Snapshot rewards good drivers
- Student discounts only apply if you join your parents’ existing Progressive policy.
Caveats upfront: Progressive only offers student discounts if you join an existing policy. It doesn’t have to be your parents’ policy, but you can’t be the primary on the account. If you get coverage on your own, you won’t qualify.
Even still, Progressive’s rates are usually so low across the board that even solo shoppers should at least get a quote.
And if you’re lucky enough to join an existing policy, you can slash your premiums down even further with a good student discount, distant student discount (car parked 100+ miles away), and possibly even the teen driver discount (18 or younger) your freshman year.
Plus, if you join Snapshot and drive like a driving instructor for six months, you’ll save an average $156.
Metromile: Best for students who barely drive
Why we’re fans: By only charging you on a per-mile basis, Metromile can help students who barely drive their cars save over $500 on their annual premiums.
- Offers pay-per-mile plans that could help students save $500+
- Excellent site and mobile app
- No surcharge for road trips (meter stops at 250 miles per day)
- Only available in eight states (AZ, CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, VA, and WA)
- Zero student discounts
- No longer the only provider offering pay-per-mile plans
If you’re a student attending school in one of the eight states covered by Metromile, you may be in for some serious savings on auto insurance.
That’s because Metromile offers pay-per-mile (aka usage-based/UBI) auto insurance. So instead of paying $2,500 for the year like you might for a traditional policy, you’d pay Metromile just $29 per month base plus $0.06 per mile. Then, if you only drive 5,000 miles per year to go home for break and run errands, you’d pay just $648 for coverage.
Metromile doesn’t offer any student discounts, but it’s pretty clear that their model highly benefits students nonetheless.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that Metromile isn’t the only provider offering pay-per-mile/UBI anymore. Nationwide, Allstate, and Liberty Mutual have all begun offering a similar plan, so you might still want to get multiple quotes!
How to choose the best auto insurance for you
Determine how much auto insurance you need
Even though getting quotes is fast and easy these days, you’ll still need to know how much and what kind of coverage you need.
Should you raise your liability limits? Get collision coverage? What should your deductible be? And what the heck are PIP and Gap coverage?
To come up with a “shopping list” of exactly how much of each type of coverage you need, check out What type of car insurance do you need?
Get at least 5 quotes to find the best rate
Once you know how much coverage you need, getting quotes online can take as little as five minutes per provider. That’s why I strongly encourage you to keep shopping around.
Case in point, the first four quotes I got for insuring my Miata for six months were as follows:
Then, the fifth quote was:
Auto insurance providers treat every car/driver combo totally differently, which is why you’ll see such a wide spread on quotes. So keep shopping until you get that quote that makes you say, “Whoa, that’s it??”
Take an online defensive driving course
Most auto insurance providers will give you a ~10% discount for taking a defensive driving course. The one-hour course I took online cost $25 and has so far saved me $100+. It was also pretty interesting and helpful, too.
You can read about my experience and which class I took in my article, Defensive driving class discount: Save money on auto insurance.
Participate in a telematics program (e.g., Snapshot)
Telematics programs like Progressive’s Snapshot and Allstate’s Drivewise will monitor your driving behavior for six months and reward you for safe, low-risk driving behaviors. Drive like a saint and you can save up to 40% on premiums.
Consider staying on your parents’ policy
You can typically stay on your parents’ auto insurance policy as long as their home is still your primary residence. And unless they have a poor driving record, it’s almost always cheaper to do this. So talk to them about it and grab a quote from their provider before going out on your own!
Even with every possible discount applied, you might find that owning a car in college is just too dang expensive — especially when you factor in all six costs of ownership.
For that reason, you might consider selling your car while you’re in school, to free up funds for courses and general living expenses. To help you save more money while still enjoying college life, check out 10 money-saving hacks for college students.