This can be an exciting, yet very stressful time of year if someone in your family is preparing to head off to college. Seems like there are 1,001 things to think about and plan for… make sure insurance is one of them – preferably at or near the top of your list! Why? Because there are more than 50,000 thefts and other property crimes on US campuses every year.
How do you make sure your college-bound loved ones are protected? In some cases, existing homeowners, health and auto insurance policies provide the coverage they need. In others you may need separate or additional coverage, especially if the student will be away from home. Here are some of the issues to help you decide:
Property Insurance: It's amazing how the value of a student's personal belongings quickly adds up, often to a five figure number. You should check whether your homeowners insurance covers this – but remember, even your homeowners policy may require expensive items such as computers or valuables to be separately listed on the policy. Otherwise, consider renter's insurance, which has the advantage of liability protection and may even include certain medical costs.
Health Insurance: Most family policies cover dependents who are full-time students to age 28, but definitions of "full time" vary by insurer. Students who marry will likely lose this coverage. Also, if your policy is through a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and the student is outside their area, although they'll probably be covered locally for emergencies, they may have to return home for routine medical visits. Separate student health insurance plans are available but benefits are usually limited compared with family policies. Premiums are affected by a range of considerations including deductibles and co-pays.
Auto Insurance: The key issue here is whether the student's existing auto insurance policy imposes any limitations on coverage for extended out-of-state use – or the other way around: does the policy meet the minimum auto insurance requirements of the state in which it is being used. You also have to let the insurer know when the auto is going to be parked or garaged at a new location, especially, again, if it's out of state.
The important point is the need to always check the extent of your existing coverage before the student leaves. Of course, we would be happy to work with you on this and provide further information and advice.
College can be a wonderful experience. We want to make sure an unfortunate event does not ruin this time for your student.