5 Tips on College Student Insurance
We call it “college student insurance,” but the following info applies to all high school grads and young adults. Whether your child is living at school, commuting to college, taking a gap year, or starting her career straight away, these tips are useful for any parent with a newly independent child. Please give us a call (508.339.2951) if you have any questions!
Car Insurance for College Students
If your child is taking a car to school this fall, your insurance agent needs to know. Based on the college’s location, your rate may go up or down. If your child opts to leave the car at home (probably a smart move for freshmen), you should also reach out to your insurance agent. You probably want to keep the student on your policy so he has coverage when home on vacations and long weekends. But because he lives someplace else for the majority of the time, your rate will hopefully go down. (The rule of thumb for an “occasional driver” insurance discount is typically 100 miles away or more.)
If you opt to exclude your child from the family policy while he/she is away, remember to call your agent and add him back during the summer months.
Either way, push your student to focus on his GPA. By maintaining a B average or better, he’ll probably qualify for a “good student discount,” which can range from 5 to 15 percent off the total premium.
Renters Insurance for College Students
In 2013, college students reported more than 15,000 burglaries occurring on campus. And between 2009 and 2013, fire departments responded to nearly 4,000 structure fires in dorms, fraternities, and sororities. Yikes, right?
The good news is, if your child has campus housing, her belongings should be covered under your homeowners insurance policy. It’s a good idea to call your agent to confirm the details. Some parents’ policies only cover student property up to a certain percentage of your household’s total coverage. And if she’s toting a laptop, tablet, cell phone, mini fridge, bicycle… not to mention a closet full of overpriced fashions, you may not be adequately insured.
Here’s a good exercise to complete over the summer: create a detailed home inventory (for both of you!), so you have clear records of all your valuable possessions —ideally, combined with recent photos or video.
If your student opts to live off campus, she will need her own renter’s insurance policy to cover the contents of her apartment and any liability for friends who visit. Luckily, renters insurance—even in big cities—is surprisingly affordable. Do your homework on MA renters insurance early, or call our team to get your specific questions answered.
Umbrella Insurance for College Students
No one likes to think about what might go wrong when a child is away at school. Yet the headlines remind us that young adults plus alcohol (or social media, sports hazing, fraternity pranks, etc.) is often a recipe for trouble. Check your home insurance policy to see what/how much it covers in general liability. If any kind of lawsuit were ever filed against your child, you may need the added protection of an umbrella policy, which can provide millions in coverage toward a legal defense or financial settlement.
Health Insurance for College Students
Chances are your child is covered under your health insurance plan until he or she turns 26. But depending on your plan type (e.g. PPO versus HMO), you may run into out-of-network provider issues, high deductibles, or limited coverage for services received outside a certain geographic area. Contact your insurance company (or HR rep) early to understand out-of-town coverage for routine and emergency care. In some cases, it might make sense to purchase student health insurance through your child’s college or university.
Legal and Medical Considerations
Did you know that once a student turns 18, healthcare professionals (including campus health providers and the emergency room staff nearest your child’s school) cannot share any medical information without consent? This means if your college student lands in the ER after a car wreck, for example, the doctors cannot discuss his condition with you. What’s more, without proper authority, you would be powerless to advise doctors on a course of action.
For this reason, we strongly advise families to prepare for a medical emergency in advance. Plan for your child to sign two documents this summer. First, a durable power of attorney. Second, a healthcare proxy. The paperwork and attorney time add up to a few hundred dollars, but may prove invaluable—especially if your child plans to study abroad. (Having a power of attorney makes it easier to contact the U.S. embassy or wire money from a child’s bank account.)
Finally, it’s a good idea to get your student in the habit of owning his/her important information. Your student should carry his insurance card in his wallet, know his primary care provider by name, know his social security number, etc. Because college can teach kids a lot—so long as they come prepared with the right tools and mindset.