Going off to college is an exciting time in a student’s life. It can also be a time of worry and stress for parents, who often wonder what preparations they must make when college time comes around. One often-overlooked area of concern regarding students away from home at school is insurance coverage. Experienced insurance agents agree that having the right coverage for college students can reassure concerned parents that their college student has the necessary protection again the “what if’s” that can happen to dependent college students living away from home.
Protecting a college student’s possessions when living in a college dorm through the services of a good insurance company is just as important as protecting the family’s belongings at home. Most students are covered under their parent’s homeowners policies up to a designated amount that is usually a small percentage of the entire policy. Insurance agents say it is important to determine if that coverage is enough for the student’s belongings; if not, coverage should be increased. Certain specific items may require additional coverage when living in a dormitory.
When living off campus, insurance companies advise that consideration be given to a separate renter’s policy to cover different needs for college students, as possessions may not be the only concern. Students living off campus on their own, or in a shared residence, may also need liability insurance to protect themselves and their parents, in case that tailgate party gets a little out of hand or in the event someone is hurt at the rented location. Some leasing companies require that proof of proper insurance coverage be given before they will lease the residence to college students. This should be determined ahead of time so a separate renter’s policy can be written, if necessary.
Before assuming a college student is covered under their health insurance policy, parents should check with their insurance agent and confirm coverage if the child is living away from home. Although the student is most likely covered under their parent’s policy, it is always better to confirm ahead of time that the family health plan will provide coverage if the college student is sick or injured. It is particularly important if the coverage elected is an HMO, as coverage away from the primary residence may be much more restrictive.
Most insurance agents advise parents to keep their student on the family auto insurance policy, assuming that the student’s driving record allows for that to take place, as Texas auto policies cover students away from home with one of the covered autos. Rates for a student on their own policy are most likely going to be higher than on a family auto policy that is able to take advantage of various discounts that may be offered.
The most important thing that parents can do for their college student away from home with their own car is to have a real hear-to-heart talk with their student about some important topics: driving after drinking, letting their best friend borrow the car, and their student driving another person’s car. These are commonly faced by students away from home – and can unfortunately have disastrous results. If need be, elicit the help of your insurance agent to go over with your student what could happen in these situations and the harm it could cause to both the student and their parents.
Going to college can be a big undertaking, both for students and their parents, and insurance worries don’t need to be a part of any concerns. By keeping the right policies in effect, and working with experienced insurance agents, parents and their insurance company can work together to keep students safely covered – and let their student concentrate on school and enjoy the college experience!
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