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Getting student car insurance: the basics.

Are you in school and looking for cheap car insurance? It’s no easy task. Whether you’re a high school student or enrolled in college or university, students tend to pay higher car insurance premiums than their parents.

There are two main reasons for this.

First, in the insurance company’s view, you haven’t been driving long enough to earn discounts or build up a good driving record.

Plus, most students are under the age of 25: the demographic that’s statistically at the highest risk for car accidents

Student car insurance rates may also differ due to other individual factors such as your province, territory and neighbourhood, the car you drive, your gender, and whether you’ve incurred any driving convictions.

Your questions about student car insurance, answered.

What type of auto insurance coverage are students required to have?

When it comes to auto insurance, students are required to have the same basic auto insurance as any other driver in Canada. The four mandatory insurance coverages required by law in every province are:

  • Liability coverage or third-party liability insurance, which protects you financially if you’re found responsible for an accident that causes property damage, personal injury or death.
  • Accident benefits coverage which compensates you or others who are injured or killed in an auto accident. It covers medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of income as a result of injuries or disabilities and death benefits.
  • Uninsured auto coverage, which protects you if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.
  • Direct compensation property damage, which kicks in if you’re in an accident with one or more vehicles and it’s determined that you were not at fault (or only partially at fault). This coverage also ensures that you don’t have to pursue the at-fault driver for damages — your own insurance company will compensate you directly.

The requirements vary depending where you live. Here’s a breakdown of the minimum coverage requirements in each province and territory:

ProvinceMinimum insurance required
AlbertaThird-party liability ($200,000), accident benefits
B.C.Third-party liability ($200,000), accident benefits
ManitobaThird-party liability ($200,000), accident benefits, uninsured auto coverage
New BrunswickThird-party liability ($200,000), direct compensation property damage, accident benefits
Newfoundland and LabradorThird-party liability ($200,000), uninsured auto coverage
Northwest TerritoriesThird-party liability ($200,000), accident benefits
Nova ScotiaThird-party liability ($500,000), direct compensation property damage, accident benefits
NunavutThird-party liability ($200,000), direct compensation property damage, accident benefits
OntarioThird-party liability ($200,000), direct compensation property damage, accident benefits
Prince Edward IslandThird-party liability ($200,000), direct compensation property damage, accident benefits
QuebecThird-party liability ($50,000), direct compensation property damage, accident benefits
SaskatchewanThird-party liability ($200,000), accident benefits
YukonThird-party liability ($200,000), accident benefits
Source: Insurance Bureau of Canada

Beyond basic coverage there are also a number of optional insurance options for drivers. These coverages are available Canada-wide. There are several types you can purchase depending on your unique situation but the two most common are collision and comprehensive coverage:

  • Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle as a result of a collision with another object.
  • Comprehensive insurance covers everything that could happen to your car, within reasons. This includes theft and damage from acts of nature, such as debris falling onto your car. It doesn’t cover collisions.

In some provinces, drivers must buy auto insurance from the government, while the insurance market is fully privatized in others.

Provinces and territories where insurance is provided by private companies:

  • Ontario
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Alberta
  • Nova Scotia
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nunavut
  • Yukon

Provinces where insurance is provided by the government:

  • British Columbia
  • Saskatechwan
  • Manitoba

Provinces where there’s a blend of both:

  • Quebec. Bodily injury is covered by public insurers while everything else is provided by private insurance providers.

How much does student car insurance cost?

You may be a defensive driver, but if you’re 25-years-old or under, you fall into the high-risk category and pay more in premiums. But all is not lost. You don’t have to wait until you turn 26 (even though it’s partially a myth) to save on your auto insurance premiums. Having a clean driving record is critical, but there are also other ways to find savings.

  • Some auto insurance providers like Desjardins offer discounts just for being enrolled in an accredited post-secondary institution.
  • If you still live at home, another option is to bundle your insurance with your parents’ policy to get a multi-car discount.
  • You can also be an occasional driver on your parents’ insurance, which can keep costs down and still lets you drive the car (this really only applies if you’re living at home while you’re in school).
  • Some insurance companies offer a ‘good student’ discount. You have to be a full-time high school or postsecondary student, be between the ages of 16 to 24, and have a 3.0 GPA or higher.
  • Try a telematics program. When you sign up for one, you give permission for your insurance company to monitor your driving habits, usually through a mobile app. Good drivers can get discounts for up to 20%.

According to LowestRates.ca data, this is what people between the ages of 14 and 25 (Alberta drivers can get a learner’s permit at age 14) can expect to pay per year, on average, for auto insurance, broken down by province and territory.

Average car insurance rates for drivers under 25 years old by province

Ontario$4,228.92
Alberta$3,250.43
Manitoba*
British Columbia*
Saskatchewan*
Quebec$2,135.87
Newfoundland and Labrador$3,655.75
New Brunswick$1,905.13
Nova Scotia$2,306.35
Prince Edward Island$1,884.13
Northwest Territories*
Yukon*
Nunavut*
Source: LowestRates.ca

* Data for these provinces is unavailable due to an insufficient amount of quotes or because auto insurance is provided by the provincial government (the case in MB, B.C., SK).

Remember to compare auto insurance rates on LowestRates.ca to find the best policy and package for you. You can get quotes from 30+ insurance providers.

Attending school in a different province: how it impacts your car insurance.

If you plan on attending school in another province, will it affect your auto insurance? It may, because different provinces and territories have different insurance rules, so you will have to take a few steps to keep your current rate.

If you are taking a car with you to school, you can remain on your parents’ insurance as long as your permanent address remains the same. You have to let your insurance provider know that you’re planning to move because you’ll have a new garaging address (where your car will be parked). This may affect your rates, depending on where you’re parking your car. For example, your premiums might increase because car thefts in your new neighbourhood or fairly common. On the flip side, your rates might go down because you’re now living in a rural area.

If you own your car and hold the title for it, you’ll have to get your own auto insurance policy.

If you’re not taking a car to school, keeping your insurance, or staying on your parents’ insurance, lets you use the car when you’re back for the holidays. It provides an ongoing history, which will net you better premiums in the future. Even if you don’t have a car at school, simply having auto insurance provides liability coverage. Meaning, if you get hit by a car or are in an accident while driving a friend’s car, you’ll still have insurance to pay for any expenses.

Whatever the situation, you should check your institution for discounts including the good student discount.

What other factors might affect premiums on student car insurance?

Age is just one thing that gets factored into your premium. There are several other factors that are used to calculate how much you’ll pay for auto insurance.

  • Gender: Women often get lower rates than men.
  • Your licencing level: Insurers view drivers with a learner's permit to be at a higher risk for accidents.
  • Where you live: Urban areas tend to lead to higher premiums because higher density can mean more risks such as accidents or theft.
  • The kind of car you drive: If you own a high-performance vehicle or one that is popular with thieves, you could pay more.
  • Driver education courses: Not only can they make you a better, safer driver, you can also get a better rate from your insurance company by taking a course from a recognized driving school.

What can I do to get cheap student car insurance?

It can be challenging to find cheap car insurance as a young driver, but there are things you can do to control your costs.

If you’re planning to live at home: how to get cheaper car insurance.

If it’s not absolutely necessary, consider forgoing buying your own car. If you own a car, your auto insurance policy needs to be in your name. It’s much cheaper to be listed as an occasional or secondary driver on your parents’ car insurance policy.

It’ll raise your parents’ premium by a bit, and they may ask you to pay the difference, but it’ll be a lot cheaper than having your own policy. Being listed as a secondary driver as soon as you get your learners’ permit is a good idea. You’ll start accumulating a driving history and that’ll help you find savings in the future — as long as you don’t get into any accidents or rack up any driving offences.

However, you can only be listed as a secondary driver if you truly only use the family car occasionally. If you’re using it every day as your main mode of transportation, then you’re the primary driver. If you get into an accident while driving, your parents’ insurance company might take a dim view of your status as a secondary driver and deny your claim.

If you’re planning to move away: how to get cheaper auto insurance.

If you plan on moving away for school, and you know you’ll need a car to get around, then you will need to get your own car insurance.

In this scenario, early preparation is key. Here are some things you can do to ensure you pay less:

  • Get your drivers’ licence on time and ask your parents to put you on their insurance as a secondary driver. The sooner you build your driving and insurance history, the better off you’ll be when it’s time to leave home.
  • Keep your grades up. Many auto insurance companies offer discounts to students who maintain a certain GPA.
  • Opt into a telematics program. Telematics refers to the practice of insurance companies monitoring your driving habits and rewarding with discounts of up to 20% for good road behaviour. Most companies offer this service through an app, while some require you to install a sensor in your car. Insurance companies in Canada are not allowed to use the data to penalize you.
  • Work on your credit score. Start building a solid credit history. Insurers reward customers for having good credit scores (showing your credit score to insurers is optional). In Canada, the minimum age to apply for a credit card is 18.
  • Compare auto insurance rates. A lot of young drivers default to the insurance company trusted by their parents. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea — you may be able to bundle your policy with your parents’ existing policy. Insurance companies offer discounts to clients who provide repeat business. At the same time, you may be able to find greater savings with a new insurance company. In general, it’s a good idea to shop around and see what other insurers are willing to offer you before you lock into a policy.

Do mature students qualify for cheaper car insurance?

There’s no definitive answer to this question — it really depends on your driving and insurance histories.

For many post-secondary institutions, students who enroll at age 21 are considered mature students. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t share this view: people 25 and under pay higher car insurance premiums compared to adults with clean driving records.

If you’re under age 25, you’ll still qualify for so-called ‘good student’ discounts for maintaining a high GPA, which can lower your premium by as much as 25%.

However, if you’re over 25, have a full licence, and are going back to school, there are a few things working in your favour:

  • If you’ve held car insurance continuously up until this point, you’ve built a solid insurance history.
  • If you have alumnus status at a post-secondary institution, you may be able to access discounted group insurance rates through your alma mater if you’re searching for a new insurance company.
  • If you already have car insurance, you might qualify for a discount for being a graduate or for belonging to a certain professional group.

Regardless of your age, as a mature student you should try the following strategies to save on auto insurance:

  • Allow your insurer to view your credit score. This is usually optional, but if you have a good credit score, your insurance company might offer you a discount on your premium.
  • Join a telematics program. Policyholders who let their insurance company monitor their driving can get up to 25% off on their car insurance. This is usually done through an app. Insurers, by the way, are not supposed to use that information against you.
  • Shop around for insurance. It’s actually crazy how differently car insurers price insurance — it can vary by hundreds of dollars a month. See for yourself by comparing quotes.

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