There are so many details to finalize before you head off to college. Of course, making sure you enroll in classes, buy your books, find a good dorm room and ensuring you have enough meal points are vital, but you also need to make sure your car insurance is taken care of. It may be that while you were still in High School things like your car insurance were taken care of for you by your parents, however as you move into college life you need to learn how to take care of these things yourself.
Choosing the Right Car
Look for a vehicle that is cheap to insure and won’t be too expensive to maintain. Older cars may be cool, but the newer, modern vehicle will be more reliable and need less maintenance. Look for larger cars with a good safety record because this will reduce the amount you pay on your insurance. You just need something that will get you around campus and not let you down. Small cars with larger sized engines will add to the insurance costs and should be avoided. Even if you see the car of your dreams, if it costs a lot to insure or may leave you with large garage bills you are better off waiting until after graduation.
Keep your Grades High
Many insurance companies will offer you a discount if you manage to keep your grade point average over 3.0. This means that studying hard can not only get you a great degree, it can also keep your insurance costs down. Most academic discounts will apply to students under 25 enrolled in full time education. Different companies offer different discounts so do your research. In some cases, getting higher GPAs, eg, 3.5 will bring a further discount your way.
Maintain a Solid Credit Rating
Moving away from home can be a wake-up call when it comes to your credit rating – it is certainly the one thing that will influence your financial options. Make sure bills are paid on time and avoid debt to keep your credit rating high. An insurance company will look at your credit rating when deciding how much to charge you so it will directly affect your car insurance. If you have a good rating your fees are likely to be less. If you find yourself with a less than helpful credit rating get one credit card to use for everything and pay it off in full each month, this will soon increase your score.
Choose to Carry Higher Deductibles
There are always deductibles on a car insurance policy. If you choose to carry the lower deductibles your premiums will be higher but if you do need to make a claim the amount you have to cover yourself will be less. It is a gamble, but if you choose to accept the higher deductibles your premiums will be lower so if you drive safety and are not expecting to have to make a claim it is worth assessing how much you could afford to pay yourself if you were in an accident. Choosing the higher deductible will help to keep premiums low.
Stay Insured on Your Parents’ Policy
For many people it is still the cheaper option to stay on their parents’ policy while attending college. If your parents legally own the vehicle this may be a good way forward even if your college is out-of-state. If you purchase the car yourself, you will need your own policy and they tend to be a lot more expensive when you are aged under 25. This is something to consider before you go out and buy your own vehicle.
Pay off the Policy Annually
If you can afford it then paying one annual premium instead of monthly installments can save you money. This is simply because you avoid the small amount of interest the insurance company will charge to allow you to pay monthly. Paying in one lump will reduce the overall cost and mean you are not worried about having to meet a payment or accidentally missing a bill.
Keep Your Policy Current
It is vital that the policy is not allowed to lapse so be sure to pay the premium on time. In some states even a short delay of a couple of weeks means the policy will be deemed to have lapsed and this can have drastic effects when you go to renew. Many insurance companies charge very high premiums to customers if they allow their insurance to lapse, sometimes as high as twice the normal amount. Avoid this scenario by paying on time, making sure you are aware of your renewal date or paying for the full year up front.
Shop Around – Do Your Research to Get the Best Rates
There is a huge variation on insurance rates and every company has its own set of criteria. Although each company will look at the same basic information, they can weight it differently. For example, one company may focus on age while another places a greater focus on credit score. It is worth going online and doing some proper research. Many websites offer a comprehensive search simply by filling out one form and it could save you a significant amount of money
Do You Really Need a Car?
Most colleges design their campuses for foot traffic and if you really won’t need it to get around why not just leave the car at home? If you store your car you could save around 50% on insurance because you will only be using it for 6 months out of the year. Look out for companies offering low mileage discounts, college student discounts, and so on. These provide favorable rates for students who only use their car during the summer and on holidays.