Your guide to comparing student car insurance
Student life is busy. It’s also a time when you’ll want to save as much money as possible. If you’re taking your car with you to university, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of car insurance, so you can find a policy to suit your needs and your budget.
Do I need car insurance as a student?
Everyone who owns and drives a car is required by law to have car insurance, and this also applies to students who take their car to university. If you already have car insurance before you head off to study away from home, you should update your policy with your new term-time address, and list your occupation as a student.
If you’re caught driving a vehicle you’re not insured to drive, you could face a fixed penalty of £300 and six points on your licence, as well as your car being clamped, seized or even destroyed. If the matter is referred to the courts, you could be given an unlimited fine and disqualified from driving.
Why is car insurance for students so expensive?
Whether you’re already a uni student, or a 17-year-old driver, running a car is going to be expensive.
The reasons for this include:
Age. Insurance providers know that young drivers, the group that students are most likely to belong to, are more likely to have accidents, so the cost of premiums in the first few years is going to reflect that risk.
Lack of no-claims discount. As a young driver, you won’t have had the time to build up a no-claims discount. Once you do, it can help reduce your car insurance premiums.
Where you live can also affect your insurance premiums. If you live in a big town or city, if you leave your car parked overnight on the street, or you live in an area where car crime rates are high, the risk of something happening to your car is higher, so your premium probably will be.
Do students get a discount on car insurance?
Car insurance providers don’t typically offer discounted car insurance for students. But there are several ways students could save on their car insurance. These include paying the yearly premium in one lump sum, installing a telematics device and comparing car insurance quotes with us, to find a good deal.
How can I reduce the cost of student car insurance?
Car insurance is often costly, but the good news is that there are ways you can make it more affordable.
- Choose a practical car
A smaller car with a smaller engine will most likely fall into a lower insurance group. Not only will it be cheaper to insure, but probably cheaper to run as well.
- Pay your premium in one go
It’s typically cheaper to pay your yearly insurance in one lump sum. A monthly payment plan will most probably have interest charges on top of the instalments.
- Shop around
Simply comparing a number of quotes with our comparison service could save you money.
- Check different levels of cover
Most of us assume that third party insurance is the cheapest cover and comprehensive the most expensive, but that’s not always the case. If price is a priority, check a range of cover types to see if a cheaper premium could suit your needs.
- Increase your voluntary excess
Car insurance excess is the amount you’ll have to pay when you make a claim, before your insurance kicks in. If you’re under 25, some insurance providers may also require you to pay an additional young driver excess, as they consider you high risk. Increasing your voluntary excess could mean a cheaper monthly premium. Just make sure you can afford the compulsory excess set by your insurance provider, as well as your voluntary excess and any young driver excess, if you need to make a claim.
- Improve security
Fitting additional security, like an industry approved alarm or immobiliser to your car, could help reduce your premiums (if your car doesn’t already have either of these). You need to assess the one-off costs against any insurance savings you might make, so check with your insurance provider first about any possible discount.
- Add an experienced driver
If you can add an experienced driver who also uses the car (for example, a parent or older sibling) to your policy, it could save you money. Even someone who drives the car occasionally could make a difference, as long as they’re an experienced driver with a good driving record. Just remember, they should actually drive the car every now and again. But don’t put them forward as the main driver if this isn’t the case. Doing so is known as car insurance fronting and it’s illegal.
- Limit your mileage
Your insurance provider will need to know how many miles you think you’ll drive in a year. If you’re likely to use your car only during holidays or at the weekends, then declaring a low annual mileage estimation could cut the cost of your premium.
- Take out telematics cover
A black box, or telematics policy refers to a small device placed in your car, or an app you can download to your phone. It monitors how you’re driving, then sends the information to your insurance provider. If you drive well, they may reward you with a lower premium. It’s an incentive for motorists to drive more safely.
- Pay as you go
Pay-per-mile car insurance charges you for the number of miles you drive, plus a flat fee that covers your car against damage or theft while it’s parked. If you’re not a frequent driver, this could be a cheaper option for you.
- Avoid modifications
Cars altered from their factory settings are considered high risk by insurance providers because they’re often more appealing to thieves.
- Take a Pass Plus course
If you’ve just passed your test, you could consider taking a Pass Plus qualification in the first year. It’s a bit more advanced than standard driving lessons and should give you practical experience of dealing with different situations. Some insurance providers will take this into consideration and may offer a discount on your car insurance.
What are the different types of car insurance?
There are three types of cover to choose from:
- Third party insurance is the most basic cover you need to drive legally. It covers you for damage you may cause to another vehicle, or if someone is injured and it’s your fault (including passengers in your car).
- Third party, fire and theft insurance offers the same cover as third party, but you could also be covered if your car is stolen or damaged by fire.
- Fully comprehensive insurance offers the same cover as above, but it can also pay out for damage to your car. It may cover injury to you too, although this isn’t always the case, so you should check your policy’s t’s and c’s.
These days, comprehensive cover typically works out as the cheapest car insurance for students. That’s because traditionally, the highest-risk drivers tend to only take out third-party policies.
Frequently asked questions
What is ‘fronting’ and how should I avoid it?
Fronting is when someone claims to be the main driver of a car, but another person who is also named on the policy drives it more.
Say your mum is named as the main driver on the car insurance policy. She adds you as an additional driver and lets you take the car to university, to drive while you’re studying there. But failing to name you as the main driver, even though you’re using the car the most, is insurance fraud and it’s against the law.
To avoid fronting, be 100% honest with your insurance provider. You don’t necessarily have to be the principle policyholder, but if you use the car more than your parents, you must be named as the main driver so that the cost of the premium will reflect your ‘high risk driver’ status.
If you’re a student who lives at home, and you and the more experienced driver share the use of the car 50/50, let your insurance provider know.
It’s best to be honest, even if you end up paying more for your premium, rather than taking the risk of being prosecuted for car insurance fraud.
Can I get car insurance for a short time?
As a student, you might not need to drive all year round, so temporary car insurance on a parent or friend’s car might be the best option. Perhaps you’re planning a road trip over the summer holidays or taking a group of friends to a festival. With temporary insurance, you can take out cover for a short period of time. You could get cover from one hour, up to 84 days, depending on the provider. It’s worth noting that some insurance providers might refuse to provide temporary cover to drivers under 18, as well as those with driving convictions or points on their licence.
What extras can I get with car insurance?
Optional extras you can add to your car insurance policy usually include:
- Breakdown cover – get roadside assistance if your car breaks down.
- Courtesy car cover – you’ll be provided with a temporary replacement vehicle if your own car is written off or is undergoing repairs.
- Legal expenses – this pays for legal fees resulting from a car insurance claim.
- Lost keys cover – be covered for the cost of replacing your keys if they’re stolen or lost.
- Windscreen cover – this pays for repairs to your windscreen if it’s chipped, cracked or needs replacing.
What should I say my address is for my car insurance?
For insurance purposes, your address should be the place where your car is kept for most of the year. For example, if you take your car to university, and you spend more time there than at home, then your university accommodation must be stated as your new address. Failing to tell your insurance provider of your student address may invalidate your policy, should you need to make a claim.
What if I decide to leave my car at home?
If you decide not to take your car with you to university, there are a few options when it comes to your car insurance:
- Maintain your insurance
Keep your policy running, and your car taxed, and let your insurance provider know that you won’t be using the car very much. Let them know the annual mileage. You may benefit from a lower premium and the lack of driving could help you build up your no-claims discount.
- Register your car as SORN
Even if your car is sitting on your parents’ drive unused, you’ll still have to tax and insure it, unless you make a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). Your tax will automatically be cancelled, and you’ll receive a refund for any remaining months. Remember to cancel your insurance as well.
Once you’ve successfully made a SORN, you can’t drive or park your car on a public road until you tax and insure it again. The only exception is if you’re driving your car to or from a pre-booked MOT. If you drive or park it on a public road for any other reason, you could face prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500.
You’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of taking your car with you, or leaving it at home. Bear in mind, many universities actively discourage students from bringing their cars, and in large cities it may make more sense to use public transport. If you’re unsure, our handy guide to taking your car to university provides more information to help you decide what to do.
How do modifications impact my insurance price?
You need to be very careful with any modifications you do to your car, even if it’s just a new stereo system or spoiler. A car modification is any kind of alteration made to your vehicle that changes it from the manufacturer’s standard settings. It could be a performance change like upgrading your exhaust, or a cosmetic tweak - tinted windows or new speakers for example. Insurance providers consider modified cars a target for thieves, so they may increase your premiums. Some insurance providers may even refuse to insure a car that’s been modified.
What happens when I leave university?
Once you graduate, or if you drop out of uni, you’ll need to contact your insurance provider so they can update your policy. You’ll need to let them know about your change in occupation and if your address has changed.
I’m a mature student – does this mean I’ll pay more for my car insurance?
Even if you’re a mature student, you may find your car insurance is more expensive than you’d expect. This is because your occupation will be listed as ‘student’ which is typically considered to be a high-risk category.
Where can I find cheaper student car insurance?
With our price comparison service, you can compare trusted insurance providers and get an overview of the deals available on the market. Remember, we’re here to help you get the right cover at a price you can afford.
What do I need to get a quote?
Getting a quote with Compare the Market is easy. You’ll just need to give us a few details about you and your car, including:
- Your car registration
- What you use your car for
- Where you keep your car
- Your annual mileage
- Where you live
- Your driving history
Once you’ve filled in our online form, we’ll show you a list of quotes to choose from.Start a quote
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From the Motor team
What our expert says...
“Being a student probably means you’ll pay more for your car insurance than most older, more experienced drivers. Even so, you should never try to cut corners by misleading your insurance provider about where your car is kept most of the time, or who the main driver is. Not being completely truthful could invalidate your policy.”