Auto Insurance for High School & College Students

Parent Q&A

  • Our 22-year-old daughter is now exclusively driving a car that is owned by my husband and insured along with our other car on our policy.  She technically lives with us, but is mostly at her boyfriend's house during Covid times.  We are wondering if it is time to put the car in her name and have her get own insurance, or can we keep her on our insurance so that is cheaper?   Our 18-year-old daughter is living at home with us on a gap year and rarely drives, but will likely drive more once pandemic lifts.  What is best way to handle insurance?

    Talk to your insurance agent. They should be able to advise you. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Teen learning to drive - insurance coverage while learning?

Feb 2013

So now that my teen got her driving permit, I will give her some driving lessons. Do I need to inform my car insurance company of this? Or do I just let her drive in my presence and there is some basic coverage for it assumed somehow? She is good and serious, but things happen. . . What do other parents do? maria

This is easy. Call your insurance agent and let him/her know your daughter has her permit. As long as you or your husband are in your insured car with her she is covered. The time to worry is when she has her license. Then she needs to be added to your insurance. At least this is all what my insurance agent told me! Don't forget the 3 professional driving lessons she needs, and I sure hope you don't let her drive before she has the first lesson and the instructor signs her permit! Her permit isn't legal until the instructor signs it. I would guess the insurance coverage also wouldn't kick in until then as well. Mom of teen with permit

Your child must take a 2 hour driving lesson from an official driving school for the permit to be valid initially and then a few more lessons (i think total of 6 hours). After having the permit for 6 months, the teen can take the driving test to get licensed. I was told by our insurance that once she got her license she needed to be added to our policy. Get ready for sticker shock! Your insurance cost is going to sky rocket! good luck, Shoshana

Insurance Rates for Kids Away At College

April 2012

My son is a freshman at a college back east and so is home only 3 months over the year. Does anyone have experience with how to negotiate car insurance rates when a teen is away so much? My son has good grades and an excellent driving record. Thanks!! Looking to Save a Little

We have CSAA. When daughter goes back east, I simply call the 800 number and they remove her as a driver for one of our cars. She's still technically on the policy, but has no car to drive and my premium goes WAY down. My understanding is that she doesn't need to be listed as a driver unless she's home for more than a month, so I didn't need to reactivate her for Christmas or spring break even, but she could drive one of the cars just like any other guest could.

Please contact your insurance company immediately. If your son does not have access to a car you own while he is away at school, you do not have to pay for him while he is away, but if he occasionally drives a car he is still covered. We have AAA and we do not have to pay until our child is home for over 30 days (ie: ok to come home over winter and spring break and drive and be covered), we just call and have her reinstated over the summer when she is home for more than 30 days. anon

We had to really insist, because the agent hated having to do this, but we took our child off of our car insurance policy except for the times he was home. At first, the agent said it wasn't possible. Then, I had to sit through a lecture about the possibility that he would drive someone else's car at school (without insurance). Finally, she agreed to take him off and put him back on each time we gave her 2 weeks notice. He had to be on a minimum of one month each time. The good grades discount was something she told us about right away. We have SAFECO. College Mom

You need to discuss this with your insurance company. My son goes to school on the east coast, when he is away we call our insurance company and they remove him from our policy. When he is home for more than a few weeks we call and have him reinstated on the policy. There isn't anything to negotiate. Your insurance company will tell you how far away the college has to be for the student to be removed and how long they can be home before they need to be back on the policy. Mother of college student

Call your insurance agent and ask about this. AAA has a discounted rate for kids away at college-I think if they are gone for more than 30 days at a time you don't have to insure them at all or you can do so at a highly discounted rate. mom of daughter at college

Teen contribution to auto insurance expenses

Nov 2011

Wondering how other parents manage finances around their teen drivers, especially car insurance. We have two teens about to go on our (USAA) policy, a moderately expensive 18-year-old daughter and a very expensive 16-year-old son. This could add about $2000 a year to our policy, and we're wondering about asking them to contribute in some reasonable way. And how do other families handle related expenses - gas, upkeep? We think we should pay for school-related mileage but, by and large, have them cover other activities. Thanks for your feedback. Goin' mobile

I'm not sure about USAA, but AAA offers 5% discount for good grades and a ''Teen Smart'' program for new/young drivers where they do an online course and after successful completion AAA reduces the teen's insurance cost by something like 25%. Check if USAA offers something similar. Good luck.

What I've learned about car insurance: Its cheaper to have your kids on a car that does not have collision coverage - in fact for many companies - even if you buy a beater and park it and no one drives it, they rate the kids to that car. Its why so many of my son's friends had their own cars - it was cheaper to put them on their own car with no collision than to add them to a parent's car that has collision, even if they only have very limited access to it vs full time access to their own car. Crazy. (THis is why we bought the kids a car - the difference in price for one year almost bought the car).

Other ways - if they have good grades, be sure to report it, some companies (AAA for one) has a special program that the kids can complete and you get a discount. If your children are ever out of town for a month (or go to college), tell the insurance company asap. We only had to pay when our kids were home for over 30 days, so once ethey started college we basically only paid for the summers.

How we handled expenses: We bought an inexpensive but safe car for them to use and didn't put collision on it (we did put theft/vandalism on it and windows have been broken and stereos taken so that def. paid for itself) We got an older corolla for $2500 and its stil going strong, we didn't charge them for insurance and since they drove themselves to school, practice, etc. we covered that gas. They covered gas for their own social activities. We pay repairs. We didn't want them taking time and focus away from school and sports to get a job just to pay for gas, expenses. They didn't take the car to college, that insurance was too expensive. My son has now graduated from college and he is now responsible for all his car expenses, we gave him a little grace period until he had regular work and we did help him buy a decent car as part of his graduation gift. WE let him stay on our insurance policy though because it is much cheaper for him, but when he is 25 he will be able to find decent prices and will go off on his own then. Hope this helps.

You should shop around your insurance as well, you may find another carrier will give you better rates. Good Luck Teens are expensive~ once a teen mom

We asked our daughter to pay for 25% of the insurance costs, and to do the AAA computer driving course that lowered the insurance. We give her 1 year to save the insurance money, and will collect on our next renewal. We also ask for a nominal amount for gas ($20/month), to cover the driving to friends etc. It really doesn't cover the cost, but has made her more aware of gas use and costs She doesn't have a steady job yet, so things will change as she does. doing OK

Hi--You'll have to work it out as fits your family. In our house, teen driving is a privilege and not a right. We have high auto insurance coverage (don't ever want to lose the house) so can't afford $2000/year to add each kid to our auto policy. Result: Our oldest was and is specifically excluded from driving our cars, although-- get this-- his friends can drive him around, with our permission. He got a license after he turned 18, when we got him a $400/yr non-owner policy for the minimum California coverage so he'd never be arrested for driving uninsured in a friend's car.

I've heard that another strategy is to have an old car specifically designated as mainly driven by the minor driver. But that didn't help us.

Our younger child pays 2/3 of the additional cost of being on our insurance, from proceeds of a summer job. It's convenient for us that she can drive herself. She uses our gas card and is supposed to pay us 30 cents per mile for non-school related driving but in practice it's too hard to track and keep current. That's my two cents' worth.

Why keep college kid on family car insurance?

Oct 2009

(1) Does anyone else out there take their college student off the family car insurance for most of the year, while the student is living away from home? My 18-year-old son is in So Cal at college with a driver's license but no car. With college expenses we can't really afford $1200 a year to keep him on our family auto insurance policy. (We have an otherwise good insurance deal and DON'T want to change our company. We looked into a ''non-vehicle-owner policy'' for him, and got a quote from Geico: $1100/yr.) (2) Do WE have any liability if we drop our son from our auto ins policy, and then he drives a friend's (insured) car at college and gets in an accident? I don't see why we would be liable, if he's 18 and it's not our car. But someone at the insurance company said we WOULD be liable in that case, since he's a dependent for tax purposes. Is this for real??? wants to know

Once your child is in college and not in the general area you can call your insurance company and let them know. Most companies will ''un rate them'' and they are still listed and covered on your insurance, they can come home and drive and still be covered and then you only have to inform your insurance when your child comes home and is home for more than 30 days. Then they add them back (usually for the summer) and then when they return to school, you call them and let them know. Definetly do not be paying if they aren't at home and if they do not have a car when they are at school. (Also, remember to do this if your child is out of the country for study abroad or traveling for more than a month!) Some companies will tell you they have to be XX miles away before they do this so if your child is at Cal, Davis, SF, Santa Cruz they may not do this. another mom

To insure teen driver or not?

Sept 2008

My nephew is a H.S. senior living at home with my sister in Silicon Valley and he just got his drivers license. My sister was told by an insurance representative that technically teens do not have to have insurance, because it is the car that is insured with its owners. When an insured owner loans the car to another driver, the car is covered for any accident that guest driver may have. My sister insured her older daughter until she was a junior college student even though my niece was living far away. On the advice of my insurance rep, I took my daughter off my policy this month when she went away to college, and plan to put her back on if she comes home next summer. I think the more a person drives, the greater the risk just because there are so many cars and drivers on the road. The DMV says every driver should be insured. Is there anyone in the BPN who is an insurance professional or legal professional dealing in this realm who can explain what the REAL legal requirements and risks are? Thanks! Barbara

Is the teen going to regularly use the car? Then add them. If they are going to borrow it every once in a while, don't worry about it.

If you want a stricter approach, its better to be conservative and fair to the insurance company too.

Either pay for insurance...or don't let them drive. That way everyone sleeps a little easier. Do whats right, even if it costs more.

One advantage to insuring him now is that his premiums will decrease sooner. Because teens have so many accidents, their premiums are very high for the first few years. The rates are based on how many years, not on how old they are. If he doesn't get insurance till he's out of college and in a job, he will be paying the same high premiums that he would have paid and gotten past in his teens (assuming no accidents in the teens!) Just a thought.

Car insurance for son in college

Feb 2008

Our oldest son is a sophomore at college and basically only drives for a couple weeks a year when he comes home at winter break. We are paying a fortune in car insurance for this privilege. How do other people handle car insurance for kids who don't drive or have access to a car for most of the year? We like our insurance company (Amica) for many reasons but they say we either cover him or not. I hate spending all this money for just a couple weeks a year. Thanks! Mom

My insurance company is Hartford, and they adjusted my premium since my son only will drive when he's home. It was close to $300 in a credit. Not much, but of course, every little bit helps. Even though you like your insurance company, you might want to shop around. Here's a great broker: John Carroll, PFN Insurance Services, 510-757-4347 (mobile); 510-483- 6667 (office); e-mail: john.carroll [at] He can compare the different rates offered by insurance companies and provide you with the one that will meet your needs. Ronna

We have continued to keep our daughter (also a sophomore in college) on our car insurance since she has been home for the summer and various holidays sprinkled throughout the year. Susan

We have AAA insurance and their deal is that if your child is only driving during holiday breaks and is going to a school more than a certain number of miles (50?75?) away, you take them off your insurance. When they return in the summer, you put them back on. So, when our oldest went to college in SoCal it was perfect. When our second went to UOP (Stockton), nope, we had to keep paying. Jackie

Our daughter is at Humboldt State, which is around 290 miles from our home. Because her school is more than 150 miles from home, we get a break on car insurance because she is an infrequent driver. Ask your agent if distance from home is a factor in their rates. We have insurance with State Farm. Good luck, Nathan

I don't know what your overall rates are, but our insurance (GEICO), and I assumed, others, does not charge us for our teen daughter now that she is away at college. They assured us that ''occasional use'' when visiting home is covered even if she is not named on the policy. It may depend how far away the college is. If you otherwise love your coverage, you could amend it every time your son is home for a while, then re-amend it when he leaves (a pain, but may be worth the savings!). R.K.

We insure our cars and house thru Allstate, and our very obliging agent Tony Salazar (415) 391 9988 simply has us call him when the kids are coming home from college to put them back on our policy, and then call him when they leave again. This involves extra work for him but he has never complained about it and it has never been a problem. Fran

I think you need to change car insurance. Our insurance - CSAA- says we don't pay for our child until they are home for more than 30 days! And he is in school in SF! We emphasized that he does not come home, does not use the car except on breaks and we pay only over the summer. They said he is still covered should he come home and use the car at any time. Most car insurance companies work this way, I have heard that some companies charge if the kids are less than 100 miles away (like at Davis or Santa Cruz) but I would protest/change if ours did. anon

My insurance company (AAA) has advised me that as long as my college kid is not living with me or in the immediate vicinity, I do not need to include him on our policy. If he comes home for the occasional weekend and borrows the car, he will be considered like any other friend or relative and be covered in case of an accident. During the summer if he comes home to live with us, we must add him to our policy for that time period only. liliya

Our insurance company (CSAA) has something called non-exposed driver status. When our older kids are away, but come home for vacation, they are still covered on our policy and can drive for up to 30 days. If we pay anything for this, it is a very small amount. If the kids are around for longer than a month, we have to switch them back to regular status and pay full price. Anon

I have just had conversations with 2 car insurance companies, Aetna and Mercury (through an independent agent). Either of these is willing to remove my college daughter from the insurance while she is away. I will need to remember to add her back for the weeks she is home for breaks. If she does drive someone else's car when she's not insured, my understanding is that the other person's car insurance is in effect, but if there were an accident, we could be financially liable for whatever wasn't covered by the primary insurance. So, she will be given very clear instructions NOT to drive while away. College mom

We are in the same situation re car insurance: our son is a junior in college in Pennsylvania, and only home a few weeks a year. Our insurer (State Farm) has been great about this - they do not require us to include him in our coverage so our rates haven't changed, and we are not paying the huge premiums for a young driver. We notified our agent of the situation when our son got his license (only days before he left for college) and they said that as he only drives our cars occasionally when he is home on vacation they consider it the same as any casual user: he's covered, but we don't pay for him. (Of course that also means if he drives someone else's car, he's covered only by their insurance, and not ours.) optimom

We have auto ins. with AAA. They do pro-rate your ins. if you have a college-age child who drives but the child must live 100-150 miles from home in order to get the discount. They figure that if they live any closer than that, they can come home on weekends pretty frequently. Our child lives 80 miles from home, so we don't see any change in our premium, unfortunately. But, AAA also gives a 5-10% discount (can't remember exactly) for good students, i.e., they must maintain 3.0 GPA. Any little bit helps. college mom

Re car insurance for kids in college- we had good luck with 21st Century Insurance. They allow you to remove your kid from the policy while they are away in college, and then put them back on when they are home. You are not charged for the times when they are off your policy. There are a specified number of times you can do the ''on and off'' thing over a year, but it always worked out fine for our family. We did learn that your child has to be more than 80 miles away from home in order for this provision to be implemented. Our daughter in Minnesota was covered without question; our daughter at UC Davis had to remain on our policy year round. Kathy

Best rates for young drivers?

August 2006

With our son turning 15.5 soon and wanting to start driver training I am looking for people's experience with which insurance companies offer the best rates for young drivers as well as their service Brad

get a quote from your auto ins. if you have one, then start getting quotes from other ins. such as csaa, progressive, ensurance, state farm , etc. at 16, boys tends to be a bit higher than girls... it ranges from $1000.-$1200. i managed to cover 4 kids under my policy, csaa until they purchased their own ins. they went from various companies, then they went to csaa because they were reasonably priced. having them on my policy in the past helped tremendously. its best to check other ins. from time to time. quotes do change. just to give you an idea, its $1000. for a 16 yr. old girl and that only liability on a '97 jetta almost done

Check out Amica. Their rate was the best and they were great to deal with. Highly rated by Consumer Report too. 1-800-752-6422 mom with new driver

Insurance premiums doubling for new teen driver

January 2003

Soon we will need to provide car for our teen new driver. In anticipation of this I would like to know what insurance suggestions you might have. A call to my auto insurance company (Geico) led me to believe that our car insurance costs would more than double, to over $4,000 per year, once we add a 16 year old female new driver. For those with sons it is even more I am told. Is this doubling (or more) in cost of an auto insurance premium typical? Is it time to bid farewell to Geico and go elsewhere? Your experiences and suggestions are appreciated. A dad

We had a very positive experience, and greatly lowered rates, by switching our car insurance, with my 16 yo daughter, to State Farm where I already had my renter's insurance. My daughter's portion, which she is paying from her part time job, is only (?? ) $1000 per year and that's for her own car. I had previously switched to 21 st Century (fronm CSAA) when it was just me and saved a little. Upon adding my daughter they weren't very competitive. State Farm was a very pleasant surprise.
Good luck

Read your current poicy carefully to make sure that you are obligated to tell your insurer you are adding a driver. Not all policies currently require you to do so, although people assume they must. If the policy does not require it, your teen may be covered as a permissive driver. But, be careful, since some policies do not afford the same coverage for unnamed permissive drivers. And, if you're adding a car to the policy, you may be required to identify the primary driver (and not telling the truth about that would be a bed idea). Hope I haven't just given you more questions.
Not a driver's dad yet

I think you might find that rate at any insurance company you go to. We found that our car insurance doubled when we added our son at age 18. We learned that the rates are based on ''# of years driving'' rather than ''age'' so there was no advantage to waiting two years. We have State Farm. What they told me was that a family member with a learner's permit does not need to be on the policy, but once they get their license, you have to add them. However the good news is that you can probably knock off as much as 25% of that if your child can qualify for the good student discount. The rules are not that strict - as I recall it's something like a B average or better. We actually required that our son be able to qualify for that before we'd let him get his license. (Thus, he didn't get it till age 18!) A lot of his friends who have cars are required to pay for the insurance themselves, which basically takes all the earnings for the summer.

The insurers' regulations are baroque. For example, when our son left to go to college out of state, we wanted him to be covered in case he drove a friend's car, and also when he came home for breaks. Oddly, it was much, much cheaper for him to be covered on a car designated as ''his'' that stays parked in our driveway while he is away (with coverage suspended), than on the family car. So it was cheaper for us to buy him a beater, park it in the driveway, and get coverage reactivated every time he came home for the summer and on breaks. You should ask your insurance agent about different scenarios like that.

You really do want to make sure they are covered on your policy though, because it seems like all new drivers have some sort of accident within the first year. This summer our very responsible, mature 19-year-old had a fender bender in the used car we had just him bought 2 weeks earlier. Even though he was listed as a driver on our insurance, we had not yet told State Farm about the additional car. Plus, we had put the car in his name instead of ours, for no particular reason, and this really created problems for State Farm. It took nearly 2 months to get the insurance sorted out, because State Farm thought that our 30-day grace period for reporting the new car might not apply in this case. Eventually they had to admit that it did apply, and they paid for the $5000 worth of repairs. But in the meantime, the car sat in the body shop and our son had to leave for college without it, and fly back later to pick it up.

So, I can't say I highly recommend State Farm, but I do highly recommend doing a little research into the various options. Paying for a teen's car insurance is costly, but the alternatives are worse.

Mom of new driver

$2000 for adding a teenage girl driver does seem out of line. We just received our policy renewal notice and our daughter's cost for the year is a bit over $1000. We have insurance with AAA.

I'd advise you to ask a few questions of any insurer you go with: first off, most have a ''good student'' discount for kids with a 3.0 or better--a good incentive for your child to keep their grades up if you insist that if she/he doesn't, the difference in insurance cost can be their responsibility.

Also, AAA has what they called a ''new driver'' discount, which required that we buy a $20 (I think) video, have the new driver watch it and have both parent and child sign that they did. It was pretty much a review of driver's ed material.

I don't know what our insurance costs would have been without signing up for these two discounts.

I'd also check with your insurer about whether they care which car or what kind of car the student drives. I remember that when we originally put our daughter on our policy and discussed this, it did make a difference.

Good luck!

When I added my daughter to my insurance the cost went up by $1,200 or so. After she had been driving for about 8 months we got tired of her always needing our cars and got her, her own (very used) car for her birthday/x-mas. I thought the insurance would be even higher, but remarkably it went down. The reason was that when I added her car, she came off as a primary driver on my car (she can still drive it, but she isn't a primary driver). My car is better insured and more valuable than hers, so it cost more to have a teen driver driving it.

We have always made her pay for her own insurance. So she had to get a job before she could get her license. It put off driving for a few months while she found herself a job, and it has improved her sense of responsibility. Good luck.

When my son got his license I called around about insurance and discovered that my insurance was going to go up by thousands, just as the writer (dad) found out about insuring his daughter. The best solution I found was to insure the car my son drives on a new, separate policy, with myself as primary and he as an occasional driver. This was cheaper -- by a couple thousand dollars -- but still expensive (around $1000/year or so for liability only.) I also had to exclude him from the policy covering the other cars since the insurance company charges you a premium just because they live in your house unless you exclude them. The problem with my solution is that you must have a car that isn't on your current policy, i.e. an ''extra'' car, which I happened to have because my grandfather could no longer drive. I use Rogers Insurance in Castro Valley. They search their insurers to find the best deals, and I've been happy with their service. Heather

Car insurance for teen in 2-house family

April 2003

When I went to add my son to my auto insurance policy, I was told by my insurance agent that my policy would only not cover my son when he was driving a car from his mother's (my ex-wife) house. My agent said that in order for him to be covered at the other house, my ex-wife would also have to add him to her policy. Has anyone else encountered this problem, and if so, how did you deal with it? Patrick

Regarding auto insurance, the usual principle is that the insurance is for the auto, not for the person. So if your son drives your car, your insurance covers; if he drives his mother's car, her insurance covers. If he is going to be driving his mother's car occasionally, then he does need to be covered there as well. I did once hear that there was a way to get a separate policy for a teenager that would cover his use for more than one vehicle; however, I never looked into it. The cost may be much higher. Whatever is easier or least costly (adding him to both policies or getting his own), you definitely need insurance. It is unfortunate that the accident rate is high for teenagers, especially young teenagers (age 16, 17), but given that it is, coverage is necessary and worth it. But because teenagers have a high accident rate, the premium is high. The higher the price of the car he's driving, the higher the price of the insurance. So having him drive an older, less expensive car would be another way to bring down the cost.

When I approached my insurance agent about auto insurance for my teen, who lives half time with me and half with my ex, he said that she could be under either parent's policy, and it would cover her in all our cars. Makes sense, since I'm covered if I drive someone else's car. Liana