College is expensive enough without finding out too late that an accident or theft isn’t covered under your current policies. So, as you get your children ready to head off to school in the fall, there’s one vital “to-do” to add to your list (other than writing that tuition check): a review of your insurance coverage.
It’s important to keep in mind that policy language varies from state to state, and there are never “one-size-fits-all” situations, but below is a general guide. If you have questions, or want to go over your insurance needs, don’t hesitate to contact us!
A college student’s insurance needs are often overlooked in the last-minute scramble. But relying on existing coverage, or a lack thereof, could end up being a big mistake in the event of a stolen iPad, trip to the ER, or worse. Below is a general guide to follow:
HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE (may vary by state and individual policy)
- Coverage of personal property: Most homeowners policies provide 10 percent of Coverage C (Personal Property) for property owned by an insured that is at a residence other than the insured’s. For example, if the contents of a policyholder’s home are insured for $100,000, a student’s property up to $10,000 would be covered if living in a dormitory – provided the damage is caused by a covered peril and the student meets the definition of an insured.
- For apartments or houses off-campus, the same coverage generally applies. Certain items, such as jewelry or expensive electronics, may require special coverage, or a “rider.” Renters insurance is strongly recommended if a particular policy does not cover a student’s personal property.
- Liability coverage: There usually is an exclusion for damage to property rented to an insured, so generally damage to a dorm room or apartment would not be covered.
- Ensuring adequate coverage: Contact us to get specific answers and information about your coverages. Also, it’s a great idea to create an inventory of the items your student is taking to school, as is keeping photos of and receipts for the items.
- Renters insurance: If your student’s needs can’t be met under your current policy, don’t forget renters insurance. Landlords’ policies generally only cover the structure, not the possessions of renters.
AUTO INSURANCE (may vary by state)
- Coverage without a car at school: If your student will continue to drive while at home on school breaks, they should continue to be listed on your auto policy. If they are attending school more than 100 miles from home, and are not taking a vehicle with them, the policy may qualify for a distant-student discount.
- Coverage with a car at school: In most instances, a car registered to parents and listed on their policy will be covered if used by a listed student away at school. But you should make sure that your insurance carrier writes coverage in the college’s state and location. And note that a change to the principal location of the vehicle could result in a change in premium.
- Driving a friend’s car at school: Students generally would be covered while driving a friend’s car if the students are listed on their parents’ policy and do not have regular use of the vehicle. The coverage would likely be secondary in this case, as the carrier for the friend’s vehicle likely would be the primary coverage.
- Coverage discounts: In addition to the possible distant-student discount mentioned above, students may qualify for a good-student discount. To qualify, most insurance carriers require that a student must be enrolled in at least four courses per term as a full-time student at an accredited college or university and meet certain academic qualifications. Also, drivers under the age of 21 who complete a driver education course may be eligible for a policy discount.
Many colleges and universities require health insurance. Most parents can meet that by keeping their children on their plan, which federal health reform allows until age 26. If your child’s school is far from home, it’s important to check that your plan’s network of preferred providers reaches that area. Otherwise the highest level of coverage may not be available. If your child is in need of their own health insurance, some schools sponsor their own plans. However, they can sometimes be somewhat costly and may limit where your child could be treated. An alternative would be an individual health insurance plan. Contact Gunn-Mowery’s Employee Benefits Specialists for additional information about individual health insurance plans.
Buying life insurance for a college student may not be something you’d want to think about, but it can make sense for parents who co-sign for tens of thousands in private student loans. Without it, they will owe the amount for which they co-signed if the unthinkable does in fact occur.
Travel insurance can help cover costs of a semester abroad gone bad due to illness, accident, theft, or other setbacks. Insurers reimburse for many travel-related emergencies, although exclusions vary widely. Some offer trip cancellation protection for any reason. Check with the college first, and carefully read the fine print of any policy.
Going away to school is an exciting time for both students and their parents. Making sure you’ve got the right insurance coverage can help you protect your assets as you invest in your child’s future. We’re happy to discuss your coverage and options — just give us a call or stop by!