Going away to university is an exciting period in a young person’s life – but as well as being the first time most will be away from home, it can also be hugely expensive and filled with uncertainty over how various bills are going to be paid.
But how about students with cars? Is it seriously possible to run a vehicle on what will already be a tight budget funded by a combination of a student grant, the generosity of parents and a couple of meagre part-time jobs?
The answer is yes – as long as you approach it in the right way. New and first time drivers might not be able to afford a Ferrari straight away but there are ways of cutting the costs of owning and running a vehicle that will give you the independence you crave without breaking the bank.
Choice of car
Be sensible. There’s little point in buying a hot hatch that’s going to cost you a fortune in insurance and guzzles petrol. Choose a car with a relatively small engine and no modifications as this will result in the lowest possible insurance premiums. In addition, spend some of your student loan on security equipment such as car alarms, immobilisers and tracking devices as this will reassure the insurer. However, check with them that they approve of the product manufacturers you have chosen.
What level of cover do you want?
There are three levels of cover – and which you choose all depends on the budget you have available. At its most basic is third-party only cover which protects you against claims made by other people following an accident, including your liability for injury to others. Next up is third-party, fire and theft, which as well as the same level of cover as third-party only, also protects your vehicle against fire damage and theft. In most cases this is a sensible level of cover for a student to consider as it will guard against most scenarios.
Finally you have fully comprehensive cover. This includes all the elements of protection already discussed as well as accidental damager cover for your own car. Additional benefits can include cover for personal possessions and even medical expenses.
Scour the market to see what’s around. In particular, look at insurance providers that may offer rapid bonus benefits to students that enable them to earn up to a year’s discount on their premiums after approximately nine months.
Cutting the cost
Agreeing to a mileage limit with the insurance company might help to lower the costs, but you must not agree to a limit which is unfeasible, especially if you intend travelling thousands of miles every month back home to your family. As well as installing the aforementioned security devices, other ways to reduce your premium parking your vehicle in a secure location overnight, such as in a locked garage or compound, can also reflect in your favour. However, this will all depend on where you go to university and what the accommodation is like in this area.
You can also consider going on the Pass Plus training course aimed at new drivers which has been designed by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) on the back of statistics indicating they’re more likely to have an accident in the first two years after passing their test. The course builds on a driver’s knowledge and skill set with emphasis on how to anticipate and deal with various hazards. Once you have completed the course successfully you’ll be sent a Pass Plus certificate which may enable you to claim a discount on your student car insurance.
Find out more about car insurance