Insurance and Your College-Bound Child: What You Both Need to Know

Saying goodbye to your child as he or she leaves for college can be stressful. Make it easier by ensuring everyone is prepared for any risks that could arise while your child is away at school. Such risks could involve a vehicle, personal property, or even your child’s health. Be ready for your child’s next adventure with these reminders.

HOMEOWNERS’/RENTERS’ INSURANCE

Perhaps the most obvious risk is posed by your child taking many of his/her most valuable possessions with them to school. For the most part, your child’s belongings will be covered under your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy. Talk to your insurance agent about the scope of your current policy. You may need to purchase extra coverage for belongings away from home, depending on the specific language of your policy, or for extra coverage on more expensive items, like the electronics and other gadgets listed above.

If your child is living in off-campus housing, he or she will likely need to purchase renters’ insurance. Talk to your insurance agent about your child’s living situation for the upcoming school year, and clarify whether your liability insurance covers personal injury claims. You may want to add it to your policy if it isn’t included; it would pay for legal defense of your child for lawsuits stemming from your child’s activities on social media, among other things.

AUTO INSURANCE

If it’s your child’s first year at college, some schools may prohibit him/ her from having a car at school or may not offer parking to first-year students. Talk to your insurance agent about what, if any, effect your child taking your vehicle to school may have on your premiums; they may change with the changing use and location of the vehicle.

Even if you and your child decide to leave the car at home this year, you’ll want to keep the vehicle insured, with you and your child listed as drivers, so that the car can be driven by you while your child is away at school and by your child when he/she comes home to visit. You may want to check with your insurance agent about any available away at-school discounts for vehicles owned by a student living away from home for long periods of time. Also, many insurers offer a “good student” driver discount, so be sure to ask your insurance agent about this, too.

HEALTH INSURANCE

To ensure that your child’s health will be adequately covered while he/ she is away at school, first, make sure that there is a sufficient choice of providers in your network in the geographic area of the school. If your child had been on your health insurance plan previously, most likely, he or she can continue to be covered on your plan going forward. In general, dependent children can remain on a parent’s plan until the child’s 26th birthday.

If your child was covered by another source of insurance and will otherwise be uninsured upon his/her departure for college, talk to your insurance agent about other options. Often universities will offer their own insurance coverage for their students, your child may be eligible for government-sponsored health insurance coverage in a federally- or state-run exchange, or your child may be eligible for Medicaid.

LIFE INSURANCE

If you don’t already have life insurance, and your income is necessary for your child to meet his/her tuition obligations, you may want to talk to your insurance agent about purchasing a life insurance policy for yourself and/or your spouse.

Finally, as your child’s educational and residential situation changes, so may your insurance needs. Touch base with your insurance agent annually to make sure that your policies are keeping up with your life.

Reprinted with permission from the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents.