It's impossible to miss the captivating commercials from auto insurance companies like The General, Allstate, and Progressive that guarantee huge savings, so drivers should just choose any of them, right?

It's just not that simple, as there are a ton of unknown aspects such as whether or not you have had gaps between policies, the crash test ratings of your vehicle, whether you are married or single, and what deductibles you want to use, that all go into determining the rate you pay. We know insurance is not everyone's favorite topic, but in this article we will cover the different scenarios that increase car insurance cost and will hopefully give you a good beginning to your quest for cheaper car insurance for college students.

The car, truck, or SUV needing coverage is a significant factor when consumers are trying to find the best coverage for college students. Vehicles with higher performance characteristics, a lack of advanced safety features, or a history of substantial liability claims will cost much more to insure than safer, lower-performance models.

The information below shows coverage costs for a number of the most budget-friendly vehicles to insure.

Cheapest Vehicles to Insure for College Students in California
Make and Model Estimated Cost for Full Coverage
Honda CR-V LX 2WD $2,988
Hyundai Elantra GLS Touring Station Wagon $2,997
Ford Escape Limited 4WD $3,223
Toyota Prius $3,265
Chevrolet Silverado LS Regular Cab 4WD $3,305
Ford Explorer XLT 2WD $3,350
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4WD 2-Dr $3,356
Ford F-150 FX2 Super Cab 2WD $3,350
Chevrolet Impala LS $3,495
Ford Focus SE 4-Dr Sedan $3,503
Toyota RAV4 Limited 4WD $3,540
Chevrolet Malibu LS $3,549
Dodge Grand Caravan Hero $3,540
Chevrolet Equinox LS 2WD $3,546
Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4WD $3,583
Honda Odyssey EX-L W/Navigation $3,733
Ford Edge Limited AWD $3,741
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Data assumes single female driver age 20, no speeding tickets, no at-fault accidents, $1,000 deductibles, and California minimum liability limits. Discounts applied include claim-free, and safe-driver. Information does not factor in vehicle location which can affect price quotes greatly.

Based on these rates, makes and models like the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Elantra, and Ford Escape will be the most affordable vehicles to insure for students in college. Auto insurance rates will tend to be more expensive just due to the fact that there is a higher risk for college students, but overall those makes and models will have the lowest prices compared to all other vehicles.

For students in college, one of the more important criteria that are used to help calculate the cost of insurance is where you keep your vehicle in California. More densely populated places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento tend to pay slightly more, whereas more rural areas get the luxury of paying less.

The information below rates the highest-priced areas in California for college students in which to buy car insurance.

How much does auto insurance cost in California?
Rank City Average Per Year
1 Los Angeles $2,168
2 Glendale $2,058
3 San Francisco $1,711
4 Oakland $1,704
5 Sacramento $1,652
6 Stockton $1,603
7 San Bernardino $1,596
8 Santa Clarita $1,580
9 Garden Grove $1,570
10 Fontana $1,566
11 Long Beach $1,562
12 Moreno Valley $1,551
13 Modesto $1,547
14 Riverside $1,527
15 Santa Ana $1,483
16 Anaheim $1,474
17 Fresno $1,457
18 Fremont $1,403
19 San Jose $1,381
20 Bakersfield $1,381
21 San Diego $1,368
22 Huntington Beach $1,360
23 Oxnard $1,358
24 Irvine $1,330
25 Chula Vista $1,298
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Rate information is estimated as specific location information can lower or raise coverage rates significantly.

Comparing rates for cheap insurance is hard enough, and finding out which company offers the cheapest insurance rates for college students in California will involve even more work. Insurance rates will probably be a little bit higher than the state average, with the extra cost attributed to the posibility of more claims related to offering coverage for students in college, but reasonable coverage may be achievable with some perseverence. Every auto insurer has a different process to set policy rates, so we need to take a look at the insurance companies that tend to have lower prices in California.

It's important to understand that California insurance rates are determined by lots of factors that will increase or decrease your annual premium. Price variation is why it is so important to compare rates to get the cheapest auto insurance rates for college students. Prices can be determined by many risk factors and change dramatically, so the cheapest option two years ago may now be quite expensive.

Find the Best Cheap Insurance for College Students

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Cheapest California car insurance ranked by price
Rank Company Cost Per Year
1 USAA $1,109
2 Wawanesa $1,157
3 CSAA $1,186
4 Century National $1,190
5 Nationwide $1,263
6 21st Century $1,338
7 Grange $1,477
8 Allstate $1,497
9 GEICO $1,513
10 Mercury $1,548
11 Allied $1,556
12 Progressive $1,558
13 The Hartford $1,623
14 MetLife $1,638
15 State Farm $1,682
16 Unitrin $1,682
17 Esurance $1,756
18 Bristol West $1,831
19 Travelers $1,860
20 Farmers $1,966
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USAA quotes some of the cheapest car insurance rates in California at around $1,109 per year. Wawanesa, CSAA, Century National, and Nationwide also qualify as some of the more affordable California car insurance companies.

As the example above demonstrates, if you currently have coverage with Wawanesa and switched to USAA, you could earn annual savings of in the vicinity of $48. Policyholders with CSAA could save as much as $77 a year, and Century National policyholders might reduce rates by $81 a year.

To find cheaper insurance rates for your vehicle, click here to start your free quote or visit any of the companies below.

These premium estimates are averages across all drivers and vehicles in California and are not factoring in a price increase for college students. So the company that fits you best may not even be in the top 24 companies shown above. That helps illustrate why you need to quote rates from many companies using your own personalized driver profile and vehicle information.

Discounts on California car insurance rates

Insurance companies that provide coverage for college students may have discounts that can reduce rates by 25% or more if you qualify for them. Popular insurance companies and their possible discounts include:

The information below illustrates the difference between insurance costs with and without discounts applied. The premiums assume a female driver, no tickets, no at-fault accidents, California state minimum liability limits, full physical damage coverage, and $500 deductibles.

The first bar for each age group shows the price with no discounts. The second shows the rates with vehicle safety, paperless filing, paid-in-full, good student, anti-theft, and passive restraint discounts applied. When discounts are factored in, the average savings per year on insurance for college students is 21% or $420.

Difference between full coverage and liability only rates

Saving on insurance is probably important to most drivers, and one of the quickest ways to buy cheap insurance for college students in California is to not pay for full coverage. The chart below shows the comparison of auto insurance costs when comparing full coverage to liability only. The price estimates are based on a clean driving record, no at-fault accidents, $250 deductibles, single status, and no other discounts are factored in.

Averaged for all ages 20 through 70, full coverage costs an additional $3,147 per year more than buying just liability insurance. At some point, every insured wonders if it's worth it to buy full coverage. There is no set guideline for phasing out physical damage coverage on your policy, but there is a general guideline. If the yearly cost of full coverage is about 10% or more of any settlement you would receive from your insurance company, then it might be time to buy liability only.

For example, let's say your vehicle's book value is $12,000 and you have $1,000 full coverage deductibles. If your vehicle is totaled, the most you would get paid by your company is $11,000 after you pay the deductible. If premium cost is more than $1,100 annually for comprehensive and collision coverage, then it may be the right time to buy liability only.

Careless California drivers pay higher rates

In a perfect world, the ideal way to score cheap insurance premiums for students in college is to be an attentive driver and not receive tickets or have accidents. The illustration below highlights how traffic violations and at-fault collisions can raise car insurance rates for each age group. The data assumes a married female driver, comprehensive and collision coverage, $500 deductibles, and no discounts are taken into consideration.

In the chart above, the average cost of a car insurance policy in California per year with no accidents and a clean driving record is $2,160. Receive one speeding ticket and the average cost swells to $2,520, an increase of $360 each year. Then add two accidents along with the one speeding ticket and the annual cost of insurance for college students in California increases to an average of $5,744. That's an increase of $3,584, or $299 per month, just for a couple of infractions!