Some students leave their cars at home when they go off to college. However, bringing it with you can make your college life a lot easier. You'll be able to work or attend off-campus events without having to negotiate unfamiliar public transportation, and you'll be able to go home when it's convenient for you, even if you didn't plan it ahead of time. However, bringing your car to your campus also means that you have to think about how this affects your car insurance. Take a look at some things you need to know about your car insurance before you take off for your first semester.
You Need to Let Your Insurer Know Where You'll Be
Going off to college may not feel as much like moving as it feels like a very extended trip. After all, you will still have most of your large possessions at your parents' home, and you'll still return there between semesters and on holidays. It may not even occur to you to inform your insurance company about such an impermanent move. However, your insurer really does need to know.
For you, home may be where the heart is, but as far as your insurer is concerned, your home is where your car is most often being stored and driven, and that will be your college campus. Your insurance rates are based in part on your location. Your rates may need to change based on your new location. If you don't inform your insurer about the change, you may find yourself looking at a denial letter when you need to make a car insurance claim. This is true whether you're on your parents' insurance policy or you pay for your own policy in your own name.
You'll Be Liable When You Loan Out Your Car
Not every student brings a car with them to campus, and if you do bring yours, you may find yourself frequently being asked to loan out your keys to dorm mates or sorority sisters or fraternity brothers who don't have wheels of their own. This isn't uncommon, and if you're used to sharing your car with parents or siblings, it may come naturally to hand over the keys.
However, it's important to keep in mind that insurance usually follows the car, not the driver. So, if you loan your car out to your roommate and they get into an accident, your insurance will end up paying for the damages – and your insurance rates will likely go up as a result. What's more, if an uninsured driver borrows your car and gets into an accident, and if your liability coverage doesn't cover all of the damages, you (or your parents, if they own your car) could be sued for any expenses that the insurance doesn't cover.
You May Be Eligible For Discounts
On the bright side of things, as a college student, you may be eligible for discounts on your car insurance policy. College is expensive, so saving money any way you can is always a positive thing. For example, your car insurance company may offer a discount if you're a member of a particular sorority or fraternity, or if you're involved with an academic or social group, like the National Honor Society or the Kiwanis.
Probably the biggest discounts available for college students are the good student discounts. Usually, students under 25 years old who have at least a B average (and can prove it) are eligible for good student discounts. So keeping your grades up can actually save you money. You don't have to wait until your first semester is over either – the discount applies to high school students as well, so if you had good grades in your senior year, you can get started saving money on car insurance before you leave for your college campus in the fall.
Make sure that you're aware of all the requirements and benefits of your insurance policy, and how they apply while you're away at school. While you're packing and planning for your first semester in college, consider talking to a professional like those at the Family Insurance Centers. That's the surest way to make sure that your insurance needs are met.