Car insurance for students
* Everything you need to know about car insurance * All types of policies explained * How to get the right policy for you...
Many young people have passed their driving tests by the time they head off to university. Some even have their own cars either bought with their own savings or by their parents.
However, insurers will charge them more for cover, because statistics show that young driver have more accidents. Figures reveal that around 20% of young people have an accident within a year of passing their test.
What's more, student accommodation tends to be in less affluent areas, which also results in higher premiums because of the increased risk of damage and theft.
The cost of insuring a car can prove unaffordable for many of today's cash-strapped students, and the problem is even worse for male scholars. While the average premium for a 17 to 22-year-old female is 1,671, a typical young man in the same age group pays a massive 2,872.
Once again, this inequality is down to statistics, which show young men are more likely to have a serious car accident than female counterparts. The good news for male students is that this premium gap could close later this year. A ruling in the European courts will make it illegal for insurers to offer different premiums to men and women based on their gender from December 2012.
However, female students could suffer as result of this ruling, with some experts predicting that average premiums for young women drivers will jump by 30%.
How can students cut the cost of car insurance?
It's illegal to drive with less than third party insurance cover, so simply deciding not to take out cover is likely to result in a court appearance and driving ban leading to even higher premiums.
However, there are ways to reduce the size of your car insurance premiums without breaking the law.
You might want to consider temporary student car insurance that only provides cover during the holidays. It should work out cheaper than a standard policy because you only pay for the months or weeks that you use the car, instead of insuring the vehicle continuously throughout the year.
One potential difficulty with this kind of cover, though, is that the recently introduced Continuous Insurance Enforcement legislation requires all taxed and registered vehicles to be insured even if they are sitting in a garage.
Should you want to take out temporary cover, you'll need a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN) from the DVLA during the uninsured periods.
Another option is to take out a pay-as-you-go policy. With cover of this kind, the insurer fits a 'black box' to your car, which tracks how many miles you drive - and whether you drive at busy times, at night, or on dangerous roads. This allows the company to reward you with lower premiums if it can see that don't drive many miles or avoid driving in the dark, for example.
Other money-saving tips
Students can also use the same techniques as other drivers to keep costs down. These include choosing a make and model of car that falls into a low-risk insurance group.
Insurers put cars into groups between 1 and 50. The group depends on a number of factors including engine size, and as you can find out which group a particular car is in by visiting www.thatcham.org.
Other ways to cut premiums include fitting an approved alarm, an immobiliser or a tracking device to make your car less attractive to thieves.
It could be worth taking the Driving Standards Agency's Pass Plus course, which is intended to enhance the driving skills of newly qualified motorists. Some car insurance companies will cut premiums by as much 35% if you complete the course which should be more than enough to cover the cost of the Pass Plus course.
Choosing to pay a higher voluntary excess should also reduce premiums. This means you'll pay more towards any claim that's made.
Don't be tempted to go for an excess that's unrealistic for you to pay otherwise you might not be able to pay the bills to get your car back on the road.
Finally, to avoid paying more than you should make sure you use the internet to shop around for the best possible deal.
The MoneySupermarket online comparison service offers a quick and easy way to find the cheapest quotes, with many drivers making savings of between 200 and 300 a year.