In the back to school bustle, the last thing on your mind is your car insurance. But if you, or your kids, are heading back to college, considering your best next move could save you a good deal of money in coverage costs.

Car insurance expert Ned Breed, President of Farquhar & Black Insurance Agency, Inc., helps us tackle the question of what to do while someone on your insurance policy is away at school, whether or not the car goes with them.

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Taking the Car to College?

If the student is bringing the car to college, the best course of action is often keeping the student on the parent(s)’s policy. Breed notes that although each instance is different, “in pretty much all cases, the student can stay on their parent's policy and there would be no change to the policy.”

Still, it’s important to notify your car insurance company if the student is bringing the car away from home, since car insurance prices differ as a result of geographic area. A change in garaging location may be grounds for a change in your premium price, for better or worse.

There’s a chance that those moving from a low risk area to a high risk area (like a city) could experience a rate increase. On the other hand, Breed notes that “if a student is going to a rural area, it may be worth registering the car in the student’s name and using the college town as the garaging address.” Talk to your insurance company to see if switching is required under the policy and whether it could save money.

College Coverage

While you may need to make some adjustments to the policy depending on where the student goes to school, the coverage itself shouldn’t change. “It really doesn’t matter whether the student is home or away with the car…the coverage needs are the same.  An accident can be just as harmful to his or her financial situation wherever it occurs.”

Whatever coverage the student needs at home—like high liability, comprehensive, or collision—should stay intact while the student is driving at school.

Leaving the Wheels Behind?

Students that leave their car at home when they go to school might be in for some savings. “Removing an inexperienced operator (student) from your policy can be a very smart way to save on your auto insurance,” Breed explains.

Consider the location where the student goes to school, and whether they’ll use the car at all during the semester. Breed warns, “You don’t want to remove the operator if they are close enough to pop home for a weekend or other surprise visit.” He states that coverage is “severely limited” for students who drive uninsured, even if it’s just for a weekend.

“Remember to put the student back on the policy whenever they are home,” Breed advises.

Student Car Insurance Discounts

Some insurance companies ease the expense of having a student driver on a car insurance policy by offering student discounts:

  • Distant Student Discount: “Many companies offer substantial discounts if you have a student that leaves their car behind and goes to school more than 100 miles away,” Breed explains. Tell your auto insurance company if this is applicable to someone on your policy.
  • Good Student Discount: Breed says that many car insurance carriers give a 10% discount to students with a grade point average of B or higher. “The discount will apply regardless of where the student lives and will also apply to a high school student living at home.”

Ask your insurance company if they can apply both discounts to the policy.

When it’s back to college, there’s potential to save money that could be better spent on books. Make sure that your car insurance is in order before you pack up the dorm room supplies and drive to school.