As a student, one of your priorities is to keep expenses at levels you can handle. Car insurance is not only a legal requirement, but it’s also vital to protect yourself against the risk of major financial losses. Accidents, deer damage, vandalism, weather woes or other causes can quickly send your repair bills into the thousands of dollars in addition to medical costs, rental vehicles and other items. The good news is that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get affordable coverage. Mind these money-saving strategies to stay covered for less.

Keep Your Credit Healthy

This might seem like an obvious point, but keeping your credit in good shape also impacts your auto insurance costs. With a few exceptions, insurance companies use your personal credit as a factor in determining your rates. This is mostly applicable if you’re buying coverage on your own, as opposed to a parent or guardian footing the bill as part of a multi-car discount.

If you’ve been given good advice such as this NerdWallet article about college students and credit cards, you already know to limit yourself to one or two cards, make sure you pay the bill on time and avoid charging more than you can completely pay off in a month. Additionally, it’s wise to maintain credit card balances well under their limits. Credit reporting giant Experian advises reining in your total credit utilization to under 30 percent. Not only will you begin building a sound history earlier on, but you’ll also have sufficient funds to devote to car insurance.

Go for the Discounts

Depending on your situation, you could slash some dollars off your auto premiums with special discounts. As a student, you may qualify for “good student” savings if your GPA meets certain requirements. If you live off-campus and rent your residence, investing in renter’s insurance is another good move to save money. Besides being covered for lost valuables, you may also be eligible for a discounted bundle of renter’s and auto together. Finally, some companies offer low-mileage discounts, so consider parking and walking more if you live in a state where these are available.

Just How Old Is That Car, Anyway?

It’s also important to consider the age of your vehicle when shopping for insurance. If you or someone else is paying to finance your automobile, then collision and comprehensive additions may be mandated by the loan company or in your state’s laws. However, if there are no monthly car payments, you might be able to make do with skipping these options. The Insurance Information Institute suggests doing so if your automobile is worth less than $1,000 or less than 10 times your premiums.

Shop Smart to Buy Smart

Buying car insurance is more than just giving an agent your automobile’s information and forking over some greenbacks each month. If you’re like most students, you’re probably on a budget, so your coverage needs to meet your needs and be budget-friendly. Making sure your credit is as healthy as possible, opting for discounts and avoiding spending more than necessary on older vehicles are all wise moves. You’ll protect against extreme financial losses while saving money.

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