Do I need car insurance as a student?
Whether you’re a student, office worker or pensioner, if you own and drive a car you are required by law to buy a car insurance policy.
If you are discovered using a vehicle without insurance, you’ll first be sent a warning letter. Failure to act on this could lead to:
- A fixed penalty of £100
- Your car being clamped, seized or destroyed
- Court prosecution, which in turn could come with a minimum fine of £1,000 and a maximum fine of £5,000
Do I need to insure my car even if I don’t use it?
If you don’t use your car and have no intention of using it, the only way to get around the continuous insurance enforcement rule is to declare your vehicle as off-road. You can do this with a valid statutory off road notification (SORN).
Can I get car insurance for a short time?
If you’re hitting the road with a group of friends, you might consider short-term or temporary car insurance so you can all share the load of driving. You can take out cover for any length of time from one to 28 days.
Keep in mind some insurers might be unwilling to provide temporary cover to drivers under 21, as well as people with points on their licence, driving convictions or a history of making motor insurance claims. This is because these groups of drivers are generally seen as high risk.
What will car insurance cover me for?
The cover you get from your car insurance policy will depend on both the level of insurance you take out and any extras you add.
What levels of car insurance can I get?
Car insurance policies come in three levels:
- Third-party only: Third-party insurance is the minimum legal requirement for vehicle owners. It’ll cover you for damage you do to a third party, their vehicle or their property as a result of your driving
- Third-party, fire and theft: Third-party, fire and theft insurance adds cover for your own vehicle if you fall victim to theft or your car is damaged by fire or an explosion
- Fully comprehensive: Fully comprehensive car insurance covers you for all of the above, as well as protection against any other kind of damage done to your vehicle – the most comprehensive of all policies available
What extras can I get with car insurance?
As well as choosing from the above levels of cover, you’ll also have the option of adding extras to your car insurance policy – most insurers will offer the following:
- Breakdown cover: A breakdown cover policy insurers you for the cost of getting roadside assistance if your car breaks down
- Courtesy car cover: Sometimes included as part of a breakdown policy, courtesy car cover gives you access to a temporary replacement vehicle while yours is being repaired
- Legal cover: Also known as motor legal protection, this policy pays out for legal costs associated with a car insurance claim, whether it’s by or against you
- Personal accident cover: Personal accident cover guarantees a payout if you’re injured or killed in a road incident – the exact amount generally depends on the severity of the incident
- Driving abroad cover: If you’ll be taking your car abroad you’ll need to take out an additional policy to cover you. If you’re driving in the EU ordinarily your standard policy should be ok – but no-one is yet sure how things will be after the transition period now Britain has left the EU
- Windscreen cover: Windscreen cover insures you for repair costs resulting from a chipped or broken windscreen
- Lost keys cover: A lost keys policy pays out for replacing your keys if you accidentally lose them
- Wrong fuel cover: Wrong fuel cover lets you claim for costs resulting from you accidentally topping your car up with the wrong fuel
- Multi-car cover: Multi-car cover insures you to drive other cars – for example, if you were to go on a road trip with your mates and wanted to share the driving load
- Car contents cover: If you’ve got valuables in your car, a car contents insurance policy insures you for the cost of replacing them if they’re stolen – usually up to a certain value, and only if those belongings weren’t openly displayed with your doors unlocked and windows open
While extra policies can bolster your cover, they’ll also increase your premiums – so it’s best to avoid adding things you don’t really need.
How much does car insurance cost for students?
If you’re a student under 24, it’s pretty much nailed on that you’ll pay more for car insurance than someone 25 or older. In fact, between January 2018 and January 2020 the average annual price of a comprehensive car insurance policy for people aged 17 to 19 was £1,091. That is:
- Over £100 more expensive than cover for people aged 20-24 (£986)
- Over £350 more expensive than cover for people aged 25-29 (£739)
- Over £500 more expensive than cover for people aged 30-39 (£555)
However comprehensive car insurance is the cheapest option not only for students but all age groups. The average cost of a third-party policy, on the other hand, is £1,887 for people aged 20 to 24 and £2,558 for people aged 17 to 19.*
This might be counter-intuitive, as you’d expect the more comprehensive level of cover to be more expensive, but there is a good reason. Comprehensive cover used to be the most expensive, and as such high-risk drivers would generally take out third-party policies instead, as they were the cheapest available at the time.
Insurers then noticed that claims were being made more frequently on third-party policies, so reversed the pricing and made third-party policies the priciest.
*According to MoneySuperMarket data collected between January 2018 and January 2020, accurate as of February 2020
Why is car insurance for young drivers so expensive?
We mentioned high-risk drivers above, and in insurers’ eyes young and inexperienced drivers fall directly into this category. This is because drivers aged 17 to 24 are more likely to claim on their car insurance policy – as they are statistically more likely to be involved in a road accident.
How can I reduce the cost of car insurance?
As students will generally have to pay more for cover, it’s even more worthwhile to take steps to reduce your premiums.
- Take out comprehensive cover: As shown above, comprehensive car insurance policies are the cheapest available and offer the most thorough level of cover
- Pay annually: It might be more difficult on a student’s budget, but paying an annual lump sum often earns you a discount. This is because spreading the cost out means you get cover without having paid the full yearly amount – almost akin to taking out insurance on credit
- Buy a sensible car: Cars are sorted into insurance groups, and those in lower groups are cheaper to insure – generally because they’re smaller, less powerful and less expensive, and therefore safer to drive
- Pay a higher voluntary excess: Volunteering a higher excess payment will indicate to insurers that you won’t bother making small or frivolous claims, so they’ll reward you with lower premiums
- Enhance your car’s security: While this might be difficult if you’re living in student accommodation, keeping your vehicle in a locked garage reduces the chances it will be vandalised or stolen. The same applies to improved security features like immobilisers
- Drive only when you need to: If you can give a low estimated mileage when giving us your details, you’re likely to get cheaper quotes. This is because the less time you spend on the road, the lower your chances of getting into an accident
- Add a named driver: If you add an experienced named driver to your policy, such as a parent or relative, it indicates that you won’t be doing all the driving
- Take out telematics cover: Telematics cover involves your insurer monitoring your driving habits using either a black box, a plug-and-drive device or an app on your smart phone. They analyse the collected data, and if you show sensible driving habits you’ll be able to earn a discount on future premiums
- Try paying-per-mile: Pay-per-mile car insurance lets you pay a certain rate for the number of miles you drive and a flat fee while the car is stationary – for cover against accidental damage or vandalism. If you don’t drive often this can work out the cheaper option
Compare cheap car insurance quotes for students
Comparing car insurance quotes with MoneySuperMarket is a quick and easy way for students to find affordable cover. All you need to do is tell us a little about yourself, the car you’re insuring and your driving history, and we’ll put together a list of quotes tailored to your needs.
You’ll be able to compare policies by the overall monthly and annual cost, the coverage you’ll get and the excess you’ll need to pay to make a claim. Once you’ve found the deal you want, just click through to the provider to finalise your purchase.
It’s important to remember the cheapest policy available isn’t always the best suited to you. We recommend aiming for a balance between the cost and the cover you’ll get, so you don’t end up over-insured and paying for cover you don’t need, or under-insured and without cover when you do need it.