Headed to college? You probably have an endless list of things to do. Things to buy. Things to worry about. And while car insurance may be among the things you need to buy, it shouldn't be something you have to worry about. Esurance is on a mission to make insurance easy to understand, simple to use, and affordable. So before you pack up the hatchback and hit the road toward independence, here's everything you need to know about car insurance for college students.
How to choose the right coverages for college students
Moving to college is a big step, and you'll want to make sure you have the right car insurance coverage for your situation. While a policy will include the basic coverages you're required to have, it's up to you to choose the additional coverages you need to protect you and your car. Here are a couple to consider:
Unless you have a primo, covered parking spot somewhere, your car may be vulnerable to hail damage, falling branches — even theft. Sure, maybe all that sounds unlikely, but you might be surprised how often these things actually happen. When they do, comprehensive coverage can help you recover.
On the flip side, if you're driving a car that's been handed down over the years and isn't worth a lot at this point, comprehensive may not be worth the investment. You'll have to pay your deductible to use it, so if you'd rather live with a few dents and scratches than scrape together $500 or $1,000, you could save a bit on your monthly premium by skipping comprehensive coverage.
Keep in mind, though, that while comprehensive will cover your car, it won't cover what's inside. So if you leave your backpack, books, laptop, or phone in your car and they're stolen, you'll need renters or homeowners coverage to replace them. Luckily, in some states, you can easily bundle these policies with your car insurance.
Now for collision. This one's kind of obvious. It covers your car for collisions. If you accidentally hit another car or object or another car accidentally runs into you, your car's covered by collision. Of course, if another driver's to blame for the accident and they have insurance, you may be able to file a claim with their insurance if you'd rather not use your own.
Collision's particularly good to have if you just bought a new car for college. But if you're driving an old beater and aren't worried about a busted up bumper, you could consider skipping collision coverage, too. It's really up to you. Unless your car's financed or leased, that is. In that case, your bank may require that you have collision.
Unless you're handy with a jack and know just what to do if your car overheats, think about roadside assistance. If you get stranded on the way to that physics exam, help will be on the way with a few taps of your smartphone. (Sorry, you might still make it on time!)
If you rely on your car to get to class or work every day, rental coverage can make sure you don't miss a lecture or a day of work just because your car's in the shop for a covered accident.
The best advice is to evaluate how your circumstances will change when you're in school and adjust your car insurance policy accordingly.
Staying on your family's car insurance vs. getting your own
You may wonder if you can stay on your family's car insurance policy. Every insurance company has slightly different rules, but the answer is usually yes. Though some insurers may ask that you meet a few requirements:
- You have a valid driver's license
- Your parent's name is on the title and registration of the vehicle
- Your family home is still your primary address
If you're going to school out of state, you'll want to call your car insurance company to make sure you're still covered on your family's policy. Because unlike health insurance, car insurance doesn't require that kids move to their own insurance at a specified age.
Car insurance for students away from home
If you're taking your car with you
If you decide to take your car to campus, you'll need to let your insurer know where it'll be parked and how you'll be using it. Both of these factors can affect your rate. For instance, if you opt to take campus shuttles and leave your car at home every day, your rate could be different (as in lower) than if, say, you commute 20 minutes to campus every day. You'll also want to consider adding renters insurance to your auto policy, if it's available in your state. That way, the stuff you keep in your car, dorm, or apartment is covered.
If you're leaving your car at home
On the other hand, if you decide to leave your car at home in the garage, you may think about canceling your car insurance. But consider this. If your car isn't insured, you won't have coverage if it's damaged in a fire, tornado, hurricane, or anything else that comes its way. Not to mention that leaving your car uninsured will result in a lapse in coverage, which could trigger a rate hike when you decide to get insurance again in the future. Last (but not least), some states require that you keep it insured — even it's parked.