Auto insurance for your college student

Crawford Frazer
When your child goes off to college, you’ll likely worry about tuition, housing and other day-to-day expenses. But what about auto insurance? Once your child has moved out, how will your auto insurance policy work?

Principal operator

If your child takes a car that you own with her to school, she probably will need to be listed as the principal operatorof the vehicle in order to be covered. Allstate defines a principal operator as someone who is at least one of the following:

  • The registered owner of the car.
  • The one who drives the car to work or school.
  • The person who uses the vehicle more than anyone else in the household.

Talk with your insurer about its requirements and how changing the principal operator might affect your premium. As a parent, you probably already know that insuring someone age 16 to 25 can be expensive, because insurance companies consider these teen drivers to be a high accident risk. Thus, you may want to raise the deductible on the policy to keep premiums down.
Location matters

Auto insurance requirements differ by state, so if your child crosses state lines for school -- even if it’s just 10 miles from your house -- you may be subject to different laws and different state-minimum liability coverage.
On the other hand, if your child is moving far away for school and not taking the car along, your auto insurance provider might give you a discount (because the risk your teen adds to your policy would be erased while she's at school).
For example, if your student is under age 23, attends a school that is 100 miles or more from home and has no access to the car, she may be eligible for Progressive's distant student discount. Allstate offers a resident student discount for students who are under 21 and live at least 100 miles from home.

Some discounts are nearly automatic. Others may require you and your child to be proactive. Depending on the insurer, you may be eligible for discounts for your college student if:

  • Your child doesn’t have access to a vehicle.
  • Your child is under a certain age.
  • Your child lives away from home.
  • Your child is a registered student.
  • The vehicle your child uses has safety features like airbags, automatic seat belts and anti-lock brakes.
  • Your child is a good student.

Contact your insurer early to discuss costs. If you believe the additional charges are too high, consider getting auto insurance quotes from other insurers so that your college student can be covered affordably.

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