Car insurance for students

Leaving home for the first time, starting a new university course, paying fees and balancing a budget – students have enough to worry about without getting concerned about high student car insurance premiums.

Luckily, many car insurance companies view students as an attractive market, a long-term customer with a low annual mileage, a basic car and potential for high earnings in the future.

You’ll want to keep costs to a minimum in your student car insurance package and the same tips that apply to any 18 to 25 year old drivers also apply here.

Basic cover

Many students opt for third party only (TPO) car insurance. It is a legal requirement for student drivers to have at least TPO car insurance to drive on UK roads, to safeguard any drivers involved in an incident. For instance were you to crash into another vehicle and the accident was deemed to be your fault, then despite not being able to claim for damage to your own vehicle, you would at least be covered for any damage or personal injury incurred by the other driver. You would also be covered for legal costs in the event of such proceedings, excluding fines.

However, before opting for TPO simply because it is a cheap quote, consider what it could cost in the long term. Few drivers take out third party only car insurance, as it does not cover the policyholder in the event that their vehicle is stolen and/or set ablaze. Could you afford to replace your car on a meagre student budget if this were to happen?

Protect against theft

A far greater proportion of drivers will take out third party, fire and theft (TPFT) cover. This makes sense when you are a student if you consider that regardless of advances in anti-theft technology, it is not possible to be absolutely certain that your vehicle will not be stolen – or at least damaged in the attempt. As a lot of student accommodation is in busy, urban town centres, it makes sense to not only protect your car with an alarm and immobilizer, but also ensure you have adequate car insurance cover should the worst come to the worst.

TPFT cover will allow you to pursue claims for damage to your car resultant from an attempted theft. This can include, for example, the theft of your car stereo or sat nav equipment.

Comprehensive cover

TPFT cover tends to bring about cheaper premiums than comprehensive cover for all motorists, not just student drivers. However, before making a decision solely on this price, it’s an idea to consider what extra you can get from a comprehensive policy. The chief difference is that a comprehensive policy will cover a student driver for damage to their own car.

In addition, where a window is smashed in an attempted theft, and yet nothing is taken, your TPFT policy may not cover you. This is because it may be viewed as a windscreen/window claim rather than a theft by insurers. In such a case, student drivers will certainly be covered by a comprehensive policy.

Build up a bonus

Insurers will cut the cost of cover to students who have a record of not making claims, and who have built up a few years’ no-claims bonus.

One way for young or new drivers to build up this experience – and get their no-claims bonus more quickly – is by signing up to a policy with a bonus accelerator. These policies typically run for slightly less than a year – usually 10 months – but give the policyholder a full year’s no-claims bonus at the end.

So student drivers would be able to build up three years’ no-claim bonus in just two-and-a-half years. This kind of policy is also suitable for anyone who has recently had to make a claim, and needs to start building up their no-claims bonus from scratch again.

Take extra training

Passing an extra driving qualification such as the Pass Plus shows insurers you are less of a risk, and many will cut your premiums accordingly. Some local authorities (including every council in Wales) may help students meet the cost of a Pass Plus course – check your local council website for details.

Buy a low-risk car

Buying your first car? Check out this list of cheap cars to insure. Steering away from the stereotype of the boy racer is a good way of reducing car insurance costs. Opting for a vehicle with a smaller engine will save you money on your car insurance policy AND your fuel.

Avoid modifications to your car

Any modifications from the ‘factory fresh’ version of your car will cost you extra. Is it really worth it? Alloy wheels or performance enhancements, fat exhaust pipes and so on. Basically, if you are a student driver and want cheaper insurance, avoid modified cars.

Up the voluntary excess

Voluntary excess is what you agree to pay in the event of a car insurance claim, on top of the compulsory excess. Raising the excess will reduce your premiums, but it does mean you will have to pay more of the costs if you have to make a claim.

Pay for car cover in one go

Paying for car insurance in monthly installments may feel easier on your bank balance but you’ll likely pay more over the course of a year. This is because many insurance providers will give you a discount if you can stump the entire year’s premium in one advanced payment. Consider applying for a low-interest student credit card or using your student bank account overdraft to pay off a year’s car insurance premiums in one go.

Top tip

In the time it’s taken you to read these feature, you could have completed the easy-to-use form and have a list of quotes at your fingertips. Got another five minutes? Compare car insurance quotes now or bookmark the page for later.

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Editor in chief Suzi Dixon studied at Bournemouth university, went away for a while to work at The Daily Telegraph, then moved back to the sunny South coast for a quiet (er) life. Bournemouth News & Info is her website and she is assisted by the fabulous Fred From France in all things geeky and technical. Hire us to make your website, too, if you like.

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