Hooray! Having your son or daughter home from college for the summer is exciting. Yet, you may find that shine wears off quickly once you notice your garage is always empty. While it can be frustrating to be left without your wheels, it can be expensive too if you haven’t made summer car insurance plans for your student. And if they have their own car, you could be missing out on some serious savings. Here’s what you need to know.

If your student borrows your car:

Keep them on your policy.

Many parents opt to keep their carless college student on the family car insurance since it can be cheaper. In fact, as long as they’re a dependent, they can stay on your insurance indefinitely (but once your kid has their own place, they’ll need to get their own insurance, too).

And it might be tempting to drop them altogether if they pinky-promise to never drive your car. But even if they only drive the car once in a great while, they’ll need to be listed on your insurance. Figure out what works best for you, your kiddo, and your budget.

Or modify your policy.

Check with your insurance company, but in general, if your kid is enrolled in college at least 100 miles away (meaning that they’re unlikely to visit all that often), they can be listed on your policy as an “occasional” driver. The rule of thumb with occasional drivers is they typically drive less than 25 percent of the annual mileage on your car. This will allow your child to drive your car when they’re home on breaks (and it helps them keep up their insurance history too).

If your student has a car:

They might qualify for a good student discount.

Many parents think the “good student discount” only applies to high school drivers, but some insurance companies will reward high-performing college students as well. (In fact, college or university students under 25 years old who maintain at least a 3.0, or “B,” average could save up to 10 percent at Esurance.) Just one more reason to encourage your scholar to keep those grades up.

They could help you score a discount.

Most insurance companies offer a discount for having more than one car on a policy – like the Multi-Car discount. But remember, if you do add your student to your policy, their driving record will affect your premium (which may cause it to increase). However, this option might still be cheaper than buying a separate insurance policy. Make sure you do your research to find the right option for you.

Having your college kid under your roof again can be joyful. And knowing they’re covered on the road can give you ultimate peace of mind. As for always borrowing your car … well, that’s a topic for another time.

Car insurance 101 | Car safety


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.