Car insurance for international students

Heading down under for study? Learn the steps to get car insurance as an overseas student.

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Australia has long been a popular option for overseas students looking to study abroad. If you are currently living in Australia as a temporary student or planning on visiting, you may have considered purchasing a car for getting around your area or for trips away. Whether you are borrowing a car or purchasing a car of your own for the duration of your stay, you will need to ensure that you have adequate cover in place.

This article will explore what you need to know about getting car insurance in Australia as an international student, licensing requirements and steps to pay less for cover.

Compare car insurance from these Australian brands and apply securely

Name Product Roadside Assistance Accidental Damage Storm Choice of Repairer Agreed or Market Value
Coles Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: With Coles comprehensive car insurance, you could earn double flybuys points at Coles supermarkets and you can get $10 off your Coles grocery bill every time you redeem 2,000 Flybuys points. Also, get up to $200 for damaged or stolen groceries.

⭐ Current offer: Get 10% off your first year's premium when you take out a policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Coles customers and Flybuys collectors.
Australia Post Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Australia Post car insurance offers comprehensive cover for things like theft, fire, new for old replacement and emergency accommodation and transport. Cover also extends to anyone who uses your car, not just you.

⭐ Current offer: Get $75 online discount + $100 gift card when you purchase by 11 July 2021. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: If multiple people use the one car and you don’t want to worry about listing all drivers.
Virgin Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Finalists for the 2019 Finder Awards for Best Value Car Insurance, Virgin Comprehensive provides a good level of cover for a decent price.

⭐ Current offer: Get 15% off on your first year’s premium when you purchase a new eligible comprehensive car insurance online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who'd like to manage their policy online 24/7.
Budget Direct Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Awarded the 2019 Finder Award for the Best Value Car Insurance, this policy offers solid coverage at a low cost. Budget Direct's claims service has received a 4.2/5 based on nearly 5,000 customer reviews.

⭐ Current offer: Get 15% discount on first year's premium when you take out a policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who want a comprehensive policy without breaking the bank.
Bingle Comprehensive
Market
Finder's summary:Bingle consistently comes up as one of the cheaper insurers out there. It only covers the basics. You don't get to choose your own repairer, you're not covered for personal items in the car and unless you add it as an option, you won't get a hire car if your car is stolen. But this keeps its premiums low.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a low-cost option that covers them for the basics.
Qantas Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: You'll be able to choose how comprehensive you want your cover to be with optional extras like choice of repairer and the option of agreed or market value.

⭐ Current offer: Earn Qantas Points for joining and paying your premium. Sign up today and earn up to 20,000 Qantas Points (points awarded will be based on your premium). T&Cs and eligibility apply.

Who it might be good for: People who'd like to earn Qantas Points.
Stella Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Stella’s a female-focused insurer. It'll cover you if your car is damaged as a result of domestic violence. It offers higher cover for baby gear than most, with up to $2,000 cover for prams, strollers and child seats.

⭐ Current offer: Get $50 cash back when you purchase online until 30 June 2021 using the code STELLA50. T&C apply.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a female-centred car insurance policy (it will cover men too).
Poncho Comprehensive
Agreed
Finder's summary: Poncho works like a monthly subscription – you pay monthly and can cancel and leave at any time. You can also list multiple cars and drivers under one policy, making it ideal for families and groups living together under one household.

Who it might be good for: People who want their car insurance month to month.
Huddle Black Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Huddle's black comprehensive is its cover with highest limits and exclusive benefits. It includes roadside assistance. You can also get up to $2,000 for emergency travel and accommodation and up to $30 million legal liability cover.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a 24/7 claims processing.
PD Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed
Finder's summary: PD comprehensive car insurance policy lets you buy, manage, and start your claims process online. It includes cover for emergency repairs up to $500 and free windscreen chip repair. Ability to customise your extras cover.

⭐ Current offer: New policyholders can enjoy 15% off on their first year's premium. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Those with low claims history and the only driver.
Youi Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Youi Comprehensive Car Insurance is one of the few providers to include roadside assistance in its policy. You'll also get access to YouiRewards which gives you discounts on furniture, parking and more. Youi also has a live chat feature on its site to talk through any questions.

Who it might be good for: People over 25 who want comprehensive cover with a focus on customer service.
Real Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Real Comprehensive Car Insurance provides similar coverage to other insurers for the important stuff like looking after your car if it's stolen or you crash. They're also one of the few insurers who offer a Pay As You Drive policy, so you might be able to save big if you don't drive much.

Who it might be good for: Those that don't drive much can take advantage of their Pay As You Drive policy.
ahm Comprehensive
Optional
Both
Finder's summary: ahm comprehensive car insurance lets you choose higher excess to reduce your premiums. Its Fixed Kilometre Plan can save you up to 30% compared to its standard comprehensive cover.

⭐ Current offer: Get up to 15% off when you purchase a new car insurance policy. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who drive less than 15,000 km per year.
QBE Comprehensive
Green Company
QBE Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: QBE is a sustainable insurance company and also Finder's Green Insurer of the Year 2021 award winner. This policy offers the highest level of protection available from QBE including three-year new car replacement.

⭐ Current offer: Save $75 when you purchase a new comprehensive policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Those that are looking for a more environmentally friendly insurance choice.
Woolworths Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Woolworths has some unique perks like a price-beat guarantee where it'll beat any current comparable comprehensive renewal notice if you're over 25. You can also get 10% off your grocery shop once a month and can add roadside assistance onto your policy for just $7.35 per month.

⭐ Current offer: Save up to 15% when you buy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Woolworths shoppers and those that want to take advantage of its price-beat guarantee.
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How to get car insurance

In order to get car insurance in Australia, you will need to provide the following information:

  • An Australian address. Even if you don't have a permanent address, you will need to provide an address. This should be the place where the car spends most of its time e.g. where is it generally parked at night? This can be a hostel, Airbnb or friend's house you are staying in. Just be sure to update the address when you move so that insurers can recalculate your premium.
  • A contact phone number or email address. You will need to provide a mobile number and email address so that your insurer can send you the relevant documentation.
  • The registration details of your vehicle. If you're not sure if your car is registered, you can use the free online tool on the gov website.
  • Compulsory third party (CTP) insurance. This is a legal requirement in Australia. Essentially, CTP covers you for legal liability; that is, if you are found responsible for an accident, it covers you for damages.
  • A 'pink slip' certification. You'll probably be required to provide proof that your vehicle passed a roadworthy test, formerly known as a pink slip.

If you are only here for one semester, take out a monthly policy. That way, you can cancel when you go back home and won't have to pay for the full year.

What you need to know about car insurance

Car insurance requirements are slightly different in each Australian state. When you register a vehicle, get car insurance or do anything else, you need to use the state where you are living or studying.

Compulsory third party (CTP) car insurance is mandatory cover in Australia.

  • This type of insurance only covers medical expenses. It does not pay for any property damage or vehicle damage.
  • The person who was responsible, or at fault, for an accident will pay medical costs with their CTP insurance policy.
  • If there was no one at fault, or no one knows who was responsible, your own CTP insurance policy should cover you.

Because CTP insurance does not include any cover for property damage or damage to your car, you should get additional car insurance too. There are three types of policies to choose from and you should choose the one that’s most suitable for you.

  • Comprehensive car insurance. This is the highest level of cover available and provides cover for a wide range of losses. It provides cover for various kinds of damage, including fire, theft, vandalism, flooding, storms, and hail. There are additional options offered such as accomodation cover and car hire theft cover.
  • Third party property damage. This type of insurance will only cover the cost of damage you cause to another person’s vehicle or property while driving. It generally does not insure your own car against any damage. Sometimes these policies will include extra benefits, such as covering the cost of a tow truck.
  • Third party property damage plus fire and theft. This covers damage to other people’s property or cars and also insures your own vehicle against fire damage or theft. Fire and theft are two of the most common causes of car insurance. It generally does not insure you for any damage to your own car other than fire and theft, but may include some additional benefits, like partially covering emergency repair costs.

About driver’s licenses and car registration

As an overseas student, you are recognised as a temporary resident. This means you’re able to use your current overseas driver’s license with no problems as long as it’s current and valid.

  • You must carry your driver’s license with you at all times while driving.
  • If your license is not in English, you will either need to carry an international driving permit or a certified translation of your license. To get a certified translation of your license, find a translator on the official NAATI website. Alternatively, you can get a license in Australia by passing the required tests.

You also need to register your car.

  • Each registration period is one year, and you need to renew it annually.
  • You get one year of registration included when you buy a new car. If you buy a second hand car, the seller should provide a transfer of registration form, which you need to send to the state motoring authority.

How much does car insurance cost?

How likely you are to make a claim and what risk group an insurer places you in determines the cost of your car insurance.

  • Male or female. Males are statistically at higher risk of accidents and will often pay more for car insurance than females.
  • Your age. If you are under 25 years of age, you will pay more for car insurance. Once you turn 26, you can start getting cheaper insurance with lower premiums.
  • Where you park the car. If your accommodation comes with undercover car parking, you can often pay less for car insurance than someone who has to park on the street.
  • How much your car costs. More expensive cars cost more to insure.
  • How much you drive. If you drive long distances every day, you will usually have to pay more for car insurance than someone who only drives short distances or not very often.
  • Your driving record. Safe drivers, who don’t have a history of car accidents, are often able to pay less for car insurance.
  • Where you are staying. If you live in a safe neighbourhood, you can often get lower prices than someone who lives in an area with a higher crime rate.
  • Your car’s safety rating. All cars in Australia have a safety rating. Insurers will often use these to set prices, and they will give lower premiums for safer cars.

Read the complete guide to car insurance cost

These are just some of the many factors which affect car insurance prices. To find out how much you’ll be paying, get quotes from multiple insurers.

Your car insurance premiums are the regular, ongoing costs of having a policy, but they are not the only expense. It’s also important to consider the excess.

  • The excess is a fee that you need to pay when making a claim.
  • There might be more than one excess on your policy, in which case you will need to pay all of them. For example, if you’re under 25, then you might have an age-related excess as well as the basic excess.
  • You are often able to choose your own basic excess. A higher excess will have lower premiums while a lower excess will have higher premiums. The choice is up to you, and how you want to balance the costs.

Important: There are many large and reputable car insurance providers in Australia. If you only get quotes from one, it’s likely that you will end up paying more than you need to for insurance. By getting a number of quotes, you can find the cheapest car insurance with the cover you need.

How to pay less for car insurance

There are a lot of different ways to reduce the cost of car insurance and make sure you have effective cover.

The only way to find the right cover, at the right price, is to get quotes from a range of different insurers.

Compare car insurance from Australian brands

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