For many college students, access to a car creates a sense of freedom, security and flexibility.
It's the ultimate security blanket.
There are ways parents can reduce insurance costs while their kids are at school. Planning and research are the keys, says Rich Goebel, senior vice president of Answer Financial, an independent insurance agent that represents several top carriers in Florida and nationwide.
Begin with a four-question quiz:
1. Is a car really necessary on campus?
If the campus is more than 100 miles away from your home, and the student won't be driving while away, you may be able to save between 10 percent to 50 percent on your policy by removing your dependent driver from the policy. Other factors such as the age of the car, the region of the country, and driving records also impact price. Policies sharply differ from company to company. Shop around, Goebel said.
2. What's the campus zip code?
If your dependent child is taking a car to campus, parents may qualify for a rate reduction based on the location -- the college's zip code. ''Typically, metro urban areas have higher rates,'' Goebel said.
3. How will the car be parked?
A secure, guarded lot or a campus garage may earn lower rates. The presence of anti-theft devices can also yield discounts.
4. How's the report card?
College kids still qualify for ''good student discounts.'' A full-time student with at least a ''B'' average can bring an additional 10 percent to 25 percent price cut in the family's insurance rates. College grades are often reported directly to insurance companies, Goebel said.
OTHER TIPS: CAMERAS & ACCIDENTS
Meanwhile, Goebel recommends keeping a tip sheet in the glove compartment in case the student is in an accident. The checklist should include procedures and instructions for emergencies. Make sure the student knows how to request the names and numbers of witnesses at an accident and the name and number of the other driver's insurance policy.
Another handy item for the glove compartment is a disposable camera. Students should use it to document an accident from various angles. Record street signs. Documentation will make it harder for other motorists to simply blame the student.