What Are The Best Student Car Insurances?

antoine fruchard Antoine Fruchard  updated on August 28, 2020

If there’s one thing that most students are short of, it’s money.

And it gets even worse if you’re a student with a car, because you can end up paying way over £1,000 for even the most basic car insurance. Are you feeling hard done by?

Fortunately if you shop around, you can find a better quote and cut your insurance costs.

In this article, we’re going to talk about why car insurance for students costs so much, what factors might affect your quote, and ways to reduce your car insurance premiums – leaving you more money to spend.

Do students pay more for car insurance?

Yes, they do! The average student premium comes in at just over £1,000 against an average £470 for UK drivers, and you could pay a lot more depending on where you go to uni and what car you drive.

There are several reasons for that. 

First of all, most students are still young, and they don’t have many years of driving behind them. That puts them in a high risk category as far as insurers are concerned. It also means they don’t have years of No Claims Discount to set against the cost of their insurance. (While students gets discounts on lots of stuff – clothes, books, tech, travel – the idea of student discount car insurance has never taken off.)

However, even mature students will find that simply being a student is enough to up your car insurance. ‘Student’ is a job description that automatically brings up a red flag for many insurers.

Secondly, where students live doesn’t help. Students often live in areas where they have to park on the street, and often in postcodes which insurance companies see as high risk. Student households are often attractive to burglars who know there will be plenty of laptop computers lying around – and that perception of higher risk feeds into your car insurance quote too.

If you’re studying in a big city like London, Manchester, or Birmingham, you’re in a high-risk area anyway. London drivers already pay a heavy premium for their car insurance – over £650 on average compared to £200 less for the UK as a whole. Car insurance for university students in these cities will be expensive. (If you’re studying in central London, of course, you may find you don’t need your car at all, in which case leave it at home, keep it off the road and make a SORN declaration to get out of taxing and insuring it.)

By the way, if you’re at Oxford or Cambridge, you’ll get some of the cheapest student car insurance going – a little known advantage of attending these universities! Durham, Exeter and Southampton also have lower bills.

What factors affect my student car insurance quote?

Car insurance for students away at university is complex because it is affected by a number of factors. Your student driver insurance will be priced by the insurance company to reflect:

  • the risk you pose as a driver
  • where you live and where the car is parked
  • the value of the car
  • the car’s acceleration and top speed
  • what level of insurance cover you want
  • who else drives the car.

We’ll explain some of those in more detail later in the article.

What level of cover should I buy?

There are three levels of insurance cover available. To summarise:

  1. Third-Party Only
  2. Third-Party Fire and Theft
  3. Fully Comprehensive.

Third party is the legal minimum cover. You must have insurance and this is the basic minimum – if your car is uninsured you are in big trouble (a fine and points on your licence at the very least):

  • covers damage you cause to other people and their cars, but
  • doesn’t cover any damage to your or your own car.

Third party fire & theft is like third-party only but adds:

  • cover if your car is stolen and can’t be recovered, and
  • cover if your car is damaged by fire.

Fully comprehensive insurance, on the other hand, covers your car fully in the event of any damage:

  • covers third party fire and theft;
  • covers repairs needed to your car; and
  • covers the cost of a replacement car if yours is written off.

Buying the most basic level of cover, third party, used to be a way of getting the cheapest car insurance for students. But because third party cover is so often bought by drivers who are not good insurance risks (for instance, those with points on their licence) it can actually end up being quite expensive. It’s worth checking whether you can get fully comp at the same price – or even for less.

Where should I insure my car – at home or at uni?

The first principle is that you really need to be honest with the insurance company about where you keep your car most of the time.

If you’re at uni more than half the year and keep your car there, you need to say so. 

Dishonesty could invalidate your insurance and at worst, you could find yourself being investigated for insurance fraud, which is a crime and could invalidate any of your claim.

However, if you leave your car at home, and it’s kept off the road, you could apply for a Statutory Off Road Declaration (SORN). That would mean you don’t have to insure it (or pay car tax) while it’s not being used. You’ll need to get it insured and taxed again when you go home and want to drive it, though. You may be able to get temporary car insurance for the vacations.

How can I get the cheapest student car insurance?

You definitely need to shop around and get a number of student car insurance quotes in order to find the cheapest. 

An inquiry for insuring a Fiat 500 in Great London pulled up quotes from just over £2,000 to over £9,000 – a huge variance.

Insurance companiesPremium per yearOur comment
logo endsleigh£7,072
  • NUS recommended
  • No 1 student insurance provider
  • Not always the cheapest quote
logo think insuranceNo quote
  • Experts in young driver cover
  • Black box required
  • No curfew
logo go girl£5,547
  • Female friendly insurance
  • Includes windscreen, handbag and courtesy car cover
logo hastings direct£1,945
  • One of the biggest car insurers
  • Good for student and young drivers (black box policies available)
  • Often highly competitive prices
logo ingenie£2,046
  • Often one of the cheapest quotes for students
  • Black box specialist for younger drivers
logo carrot£1,409
  • Black box based
  • Weekly rewards for good driving
  • Has its own app for rewards
  • Competitive quotes
Student car insurances comparison

Premium are based on the following criteria: 17-20 driver living in South West of England area with eco car and no NCB.

Some insurers are known for doing a good job of providing university student car insurance so you should definitely consider providers like Endsleigh . However, to find the cheapest and best car insurance for students,  you’ll need to compare as many providers as you can.

Can a black box policy save me money?

Some insurers now offer ‘black box’ telematics policies. These use a telematic device in the car to assess your driving and your insurance premiums could be changed based on the information the insurer gets. If you’re a careful driver you could see your premiums decrease.

The telematics unit also operates as a tracking device, so your car is more likely to be recovered if it’s stolen. Again, that makes your car a lower risk for the insurer and is often reflected in a lower quote.

Black box schemes are often suggested as car insurance for students at university, and for younger, less experienced drivers generally. It makes up for the fact that you don’t have a track record as a driver – insurers can actually see whether you’re a good driver or not. Black box can sometimes be the best insurance for young drivers.

Sometimes black box will also penalise you. If you have to drive at night, because you’re working (eg working in a restaurant, or medical students doing night shifts), you might end up paying more as driving at night is considered higher risk.

Here is a small comparison of companies with fully comp black box insurance for driver aged 17-24 driving a Fiat 500:

Insurance companyAnnual cost, Greater LondonAnnual cost, East of England
logo admiral little box£7,565*£2,142
logo hastings direct smart miles£2,087£1,810
logo rac insurance£2,696£2,045
logo o2 box on board£2,432£2,037
Student black box car insurance comparison depending on area

*third party fire & theft

The cost of Admiral Little Box policy for a student in the area of London gives indication on the number of accidents, damages and claims that may have happen in the past years for this age-range of drivers in this living area.

Can I just drive my parents’ car?

You won’t be able to take your parents’ car with you and keep it insured under their names or at their address. You’ll have to reinsure it with you as the main driver.

You have to tell the insurance company who is the main driver when you insure a car. So if the car is your parents’ but you’re driving it more than they are, it would have to be insured for you as the main driver.

Doing it the other way round is called ‘fronting’ – and insurance companies take a very dim view of it. 

But if you just want to be able to drive while you’re at home, or maybe to move some of your stuff between digs, your parents may be able to make you a named driver on their car insurance. That would cover you for occasional use of the family car.

Pitfalls to avoid when getting cheap student car insurance

Insurance is a tricky area with a lot of detailed regulations. Make sure you avoid the potential traps.

  • Make sure you do actually get insurance! There are a lot of myths about ‘you can borrow someone else’s car’ (you almost certainly can’t), and so on. If you’re driving a car, you need to be insured for that car, either as the main driver or as a named driver.
  • Don’t get involved in ‘fronting’ (when you say someone else is the main driver). It will invalidate your insurance.
  • Don’t insure your car for uni if you’re going to leave it at home. Declare it off-road with SORN (remember, it has to be kept on private property to do this, not on the road) and you’ll save tax and insurance till you decide you need to drive it again. 

Always  look at the proposed policy documentation in detail. Cheap car insurance for students sometimes has exclusions or conditions in the policy that you need to comply with. If you don’t, your cover could be invalidated – and ignorance is no excuse.

What about international student car insurance?

If you are an international student in the UK you can drive on an international driving permit together with your own licence from home (for twelve months). 

Otherwise, you’ll need to either exchange your licence for a UK licence (if you come from some mainly, mainly Commonwealth and EEA – though Brexit may change things), or to pass the UK driving test and get a UK licence.

If you’re driving on an international licence, you may find it’s difficult and expensive to get insurance. But you should still be able to get it, at a price.

How to lower my student car insurance quote?

There are some other ways that you can reduce the cost of your insurance.

  • Getting one of your parents added to your policy as a named driver might bring down the total cost a little. That’s because your parents are probably a better risk than you are, being more experienced drivers. (This won’t work if mum has been caught speeding and has points on her licence, though.)
  • Make sure your car is in a low insurance group. Insurance companies use these groups to decide their premium pricing. Generally speaking, a small car with low value and relatively unassertive performance is going to be cheaper to insure than one with faster acceleration and a more powerful engine, in a higher price bracket. Cheap cars for students might include the Fiat 500 Pop, Renault Clio, or Ford Ka – but out of these the lowest spec Ka comes in a much lower insurance group than the other two. Getting cheap student cars insured is already quite costly – you really don’t want to try taking a high spec Mercedes to university, unless you (or your parents) are made of money.
  • Take Pass Plus if you haven’t already, and you may be able to get better insurance. It’s not certain that you’ll save the entire cost of the course in a single year – but Pass Plus will also make you a much better driver. And that could help you build up a nice No Claims Bonus by the time you’re making enough money to buy a really nice set of wheels.
  • Get a black box policy that charges you for how much, and how well, you drive. A telematics device is fitted to your car, and reports on your driving style and total mileage. That could be cheaper than a standard policy.
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