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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- Get discounts for buying online.
- If you won’t be driving much, consider pay as you drive car insurance.
- Don’t make claims if you can avoid it in order to grow a no-claims bonus discount.
- Consider the limits and know how to compare policies.
- Know your policy exclusions and what your car insurance doesn’t cover.
The only way to find the right cover, at the right price, is to get quotes from a range of different insurers.
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