» Insurance & College: 3 Insurance Coverages Affected By Back to School
October 22, 2019
The heavy slam of the car trunk underscores the close of one chapter in your child’s life; leaving you to cope with the new journey of college she is embarking on without you.
So much has gone in to preparing for this day: endless trips to home goods retailers to select the right bedding that “is so her”, conversations on making good choices, worrying about how she will adjust, and finally, a trip to the bookstore to get your “proud mom or dad” car magnet.
And now it’s finally time to leave. You have prepared as much as possible for this moment.
Or have you?
How Does Your Insurance Coverage Change with a Child in College
One area of college preparation many parents overlook is their insurance coverage. Not reviewing this change in your family’s situation with your personal insurance broker can leave you and your student at significant risk for liability exposures and other related costs.
Here are some important questions to ask when your child goes to college:
- Will my child’s belongings be covered if he or she lives in off-campus housing?
- Do I have to change my auto policy if my child brings the car to school?
- Will my child be covered under my family health plan if he or she is injured or gets sick?
I recently had a client call to add their newly licensed teenage son to their family auto policy. In reviewing their covered drivers, I asked if their oldest daughter was attending college. She is, in fact, attending an out of state university, living on campus in a dorm and not bringing her car.
I advised the client we could move her daughter to a distant student discount status, which would reduce her premium, yet still provide the necessary coverage for her daughter.
I have run across the scenario above many times, especially at this time of the year. There are three areas to consider in regards to you and your college student’s insurance needs:
- Auto insurance
- Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance
- Health insurance
Why you shouldn’t drop your college student from your auto insurance
Initially, parents think if their student doesn’t bring a car to school, they no longer need to be on the auto policy. However, removing him from the policy means when he returns for holiday breaks, weekends or acts as a designated driver for friends, he is driving without coverage.
Your college student will also have medical and liability protection if he drives a friend’s vehicle that does not have adequate insurance coverage. Additionally, he will have coverage if he is a passenger in a car or is hit by a vehicle while walking or biking.
Full-time college students can remain on your policy if the primary address is the parent’s home. However, if your child owns the vehicle and has the title, they are responsible for their own auto policy.
How to protect your college student’s belongings while away at school
If your child moves into a dorm, your homeowners policy will often extend coverage for their belongings, up to 10% of the limit of your personal property coverage. Meaning, if you have a $200,000 limit for personal property, your child’s belongings are covered for up to $20,000. This coverage is typically accompanied by a policy deductible of $500-$1,000.
Check with your personal insurance broker for more details on your property limit and ask them to review your coverage to ensure it matches you and your child’s needs. You may consider more coverage if you or your child has electronics, sports equipment, furniture, jewelry, instruments or other high-value items.
For students who live in off-campus apartments or homes, you may have to set up a separate renter’s policy. This coverage will cover their valuables as well as provide liability coverage in the event someone is hurt in their apartment.
Will your health insurance cover your college student?
Full-time students are typically covered under your health insurance plan until they reach a certain age. However, coverage may vary or be more complicated if your child attends a school in a different state. You should consult your employer or your group benefits broker to verify changes in coverage for your student, especially if they are athletes, for emergency situations.
If you find your child doesn’t have coverage under your plan, you have a few options. Most colleges have their own health plans, but some policies have high deductibles and low coverage maximums. A few don’t offer any coverage for conditions present before entering the school, so be sure to examine plans carefully. Otherwise, you may want to consider an individual policy for your child.
Nothing is worse than having your child call you in the middle of the night with a bad cold, flu symptoms or other urgent health concern. For non-emergency situations, you may consider adding telemedicine coverage to your health insurance policy. Some medical insurance policies have a telemedicine or telehealth product; however, these may charge a copay for each use. These telemedicine services may also count the claims against your health insurance policy.
Teladoc is a unique, stand-alone telemedicine service you can purchase through participating employers or on an individual family basis. Teladoc provides 24/7 access to a certified physician in the state your child is currently located. Your child can speak to them via phone, video conferencing or through an app to receive consultation and medication for a range of common conditions including:
- Cold & flu
- Pink eye
- Upper respiratory infections
- Skin infection
- Skin rash
This health care service ensures your child has access to care quickly, anytime and anywhere they are; a big peace of mind for you since you can’t always get to where they are to care for them.
Once you can see thru the farewell tears, it is important to verify that you and your student have the right protection in place for all the different experiences they may face on their own.
Britton Gallagher’s team of personal risk management advisors can help you evaluate your family’s exposures and discuss solutions that are right for your situation. You may be able to save money on your policies and will ensure you protect your child from expensive incidents while away from home.