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Road Rules for College Car Insurance

Bills, budgets, spending temptations, lines of credit -- across the country newly minted co-eds are facing these adult money issues on their own for the very first time. To help kids ace Money 101 -- and avoid graduating with a killer financial hangover (or bankrupting the Bank of Mom and Dad, for that matter) -- here's what they need to know.

Unfortunately, youth works against you when it comes to car insurance. If you're under 25 insurance actuaries assume you've got a lead foot and an "I Drive Like I am Invincible" bumper sticker.

Maintaining a clean driving record (for at least three years), and paying for small claims out-of-pocket are still the best ways to keep insurance costs in check until you age into better rates.

However, there are some ways that college students can still drive a better car insurance bargain.

Let your insurer know if:

•    You're parking or garaging the car in a different location (a low-crime zip code or secure garage, for example)

•    Acing your finals. Good grades may earn you a "good student" discount on your premium

•    Are in the market for renter's insurance (if your stuff isn't covered under your parent's homeowner's policy). Buying coverage from the same insurer can cost less than purchasing separate plans from different companies.

A note for mom and dad: If you're footing the bill for your offspring's auto coverage, make it clear to Junior that you're only will to pay so much for their coverage. If rates go up because of some boneheaded driving stunt you'll expect them to pay the difference.

What if your kid is leaving the car parked at home while off at college? Tell your insurer that Junior is no longer a full-time driver: You may be eligible for a break on your family premium (while still maintaining your child's coverage when they are at home and driving the car).

Fool.com's Dayana Yochim graduated college (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!) with only minor financial bruising thanks to in-state tuition and the lack of plastic in her wallet. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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