Taking your car to uni? Study your options!

If you’re heading off to university in the next couple of weeks, you’ll no doubt have your hands full finalising the details for your digs, getting your course materials together, and seeing how many kitchen appliances you can sneak out of your parents’ house without them noticing. So sorting out your car insurance probably isn’t too high up on your list of priorities. The thing is, though, a change of address can make a big difference to the cost of cover, and when you’re already living on a tight budget, a hike in the price of your car insurance is probably the last thing you need. And if you’re thinking of just keeping it registered at your folks’ address and taking it to uni with you anyway, you should probably think again – not only could this invalidate your cover, it’s insurance fraud and so could even land you in trouble with the law.
So why does where you live affect the cost of cover, and what can you do about it – given that committing insurance fraud is out of the question? Read on…

Is car insurance a postcode lottery?

To work out premium prices, insurers use a combination of statistics and assumptions based upon factors such as your age, type of vehicle and the place where the car is kept – so it’s not so much a lottery, more of an educated guess. Unfortunately, if you’re a student, you’ll most likely fall into the riskiest demographic of all – young drivers. It may seem unfair that young drivers get charged most for car insurance, at a point in life when they can probably least afford it, but statistics show that 18-year-old drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a car crash than someone in their 40s. To make matters worse, you could also be moving to a higher risk area, be that because you’re moving to a different city or just because you’re moving to a location that insurers consider more likely to generate claims. It’s also more likely that your car will be parked in the street - student gaffs don’t usually come with much land, so it’s unlikely there’ll be off-road parking. This can also increase the cost of cover as the car will be a much easier target for thieves or vandals. And because 90% of all car insurance claims occur within five miles of a driver’s home, be that because of theft, damage or vandalism, the home postcode becomes quite a significant indicator of the premium price. One thing that could count in your favour though, is the type of car you drive. If you drive a modest, relatively low-profile (as far as thieves are concerned) small hatchback, preferably one from a popular make as this can keep repair costs down, then this should help to lower your costs. So what else can you do to keep down the cost of cover?

How can students cut car insurance costs?

The simplest way to cut down the cost of car insurance is to shop around, and the simplest way of shopping around, is to use MoneySuperMarket’s car insurance channel which will instantly compare over 139 car insurance quotes to make sure you get the best deal. If you need some figures to back up that claim, 99% of people save on the cost of cover by using MoneySuperMarket while 40% of customers save over £300. Then there are also a number of tactics you can employ that will drop the price even further. The first thing to do is to put an older, more experienced driver, a parent for instance, as a named driver on the policy. The logic is that the driving is shared with the more experienced driver and so the cost of cover comes down.

No fronting!

However, just as you should never tell your insurers your car is kept at a different address to the one it’s actually kept at, you should never say that someone else – someone likely to get a lower premium than you – is the main driver when this is not the case. Having an older, more experienced driver as the main name on the policy may bring the premium price down, but wrongly nominating someone else as the main driver is ‘fronting’, which is another example of plain old insurance fraud, and could once again land you in hot water with the police and invalidate your cover. Opting for a lower level of cover may also bring your policy price down – there are three levels of cover, third party only, third party fire and theft, and fully comprehensive – but this doesn’t always work and can vary between insurers. If you consider yourself to be a careful driver, you could also give telematics a try; your insurer will fit your car with a tracking device that monitors your driving, meaning that your premium is based on your actual driving style and not just those statistics and assumptions. For more on telematics insurance, watch the short video below: [embed width="560" height="315"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRGLmZ2_2-s[/embed]

Boost your excess

Another tried and trusted technique to lower insurance costs is to increase the policy excess, which is the amount you have to pay up front in the event of a claim. The higher the excess, the lower the premium – but don’t set the excess too high otherwise you’ll find your policy won’t make any contribution to typical, relatively low value claims you have to make. For a comprehensive (insurance pun intended) round up of ways to save on cover and anything else you might want to know about motor insurance (bedtime reading after a heavy Red Bull and study session, perhaps?) check out our car insurance guides. Oh, and if you’re sneaking any kitchen items out of the family home and down to halls, you should probably draw the line at the bulky white goods – it’s amazing how quickly parents spot they’re missing! Do you have any tales of taking a car down to uni? If so, let us know in the boxes below or on Twitter using the hashtag #motoringblog And let us know what your first car was on Twitter using the hashtag #MyFirstCarWasA - you can read about some of our first rides here

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