Tips for Parents
Chances are your student is starting to focus on the things he will need at college this coming semester. Extra long sheets for many residence hall mattresses, lamps, towels, computer equipment, a stereo system ... all the homey touches and technological trappings quickly add up.
That's why it's important to consider insurance coverage for college students. If your student is a dependent and will be living on campus, your homeowner's policy will likely cover his personal property. Dependents are typically covered, on average, for up to 10 percent of their parent's policy, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). There are always exceptions so check with your insurance agent to determine the specific provisions of your personal policy.
If your student is moving into an off-campus apartment this year, however, he may not be covered under your policy. If that's the case, renters insurance is a good idea. Premiums average around $20 a month, according to the Texas Department of Insurance. A Broad Form policy is the most common, covering personal belongings from events such as fire, utilities-related water damage, smoke, vandalism, theft and more. A Comprehensive Form policy provides coverage for a variety of events so premiums may be higher. Again, check with your agent to ensure that you're getting the necessary coverage.
Another thing to keep in mind when purchasing renters insurance is whether there is liability coverage, suggests the Kansas Insurance Department. This offers coverage against a claim or lawsuit when someone is injured or has their property damaged on the renters' property.
Take Stock of Belongings
Before your student heads to college in the fall, it's a good idea to have them take stock of their belongings, says the Missouri Department of Insurance. Have them estimate and itemize the dollar value of what they'll have with them at college. Then, encourage them to update this list annually and keep it in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box or at your house.
And when your student gets to school in the fall, he can ask about an "Operation ID"-type program, often run by the campus public safety department in conjunction with residence life. They provide an engraver so students can engrave an ID number (NOT their social security number!) on the back of major items and then keep a list on file with public safety. This allows public safety to help students even more effectively should any of their engraved items be stolen.
Thinking ahead to those "what if" scenarios where students' belongings can be compromised may not feel great, yet it can help you and your student be proactive. Adequate insurance coverage not only protects property, it also adds to your peace of mind. And that can be priceless!
Sources: Missouri Department of Insurance, http://insurance.mo.gov; Texas Department of Insurance, www.tdi.state.tx.us; Kansas Insurance Department, www.ksinsurance.org; National Association of Insurance Commissioners, www.naic.org
- Proof of Loss—Hang on to receipts, especially for major purchases, so that you have proof of ownership. You'll need to produce these when making a claim.
- Deductible—The amount you pay on a claim before your insurance company pays.
- Actual Cash Value (ACV) Policy—Reimburses you for the depreciated cost of your property at the time of your claim, minus the deductible. That digital camera worth $300 when you bought it three years ago may only net an ACV of $75 now.
- Replacement Cost (RC) Policy—Reimburses you for the full cost of your property after you buy a replacement and submit the receipt.
Sources: Missouri Department of Insurance Renter Insurance Lesson Plan, http://insurance.mo.gov; Consumer Alert from National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC): Renter's Insurance, www.naic.org
Other Insurance Considerations
- Some schools offer student health policies so ask about this during orientation or call the campus health center directly.
- A family health plan that is a traditional major medical policy typically covers students when they go away to college. If it's through an HMO, though, coverage may be limited to a certain geographical area. That may mean they'll only pay for your student's emergency care while at college. Check into the specifics.
- HMO coverage that is purchased as part of a divorce settlement may provide for your student, no matter where he lives. Again, check out the details.
- A family auto policy that covers your student now will likely provide similar coverage when he is away at school in Canada, the United States or Puerto Rico.
- Auto liability insurance policies may cover accidents that involve your student driving someone else's car—a common, yet not necessarily recommended, practice among college students. Check into the specifics of your policy.
- Some insurance companies offer "Student away at school" premium discounts for students who don't have a car on campus. And some companies also offer 10 percent discounts to "youthful drivers" who maintain at least a 3.0 or B average. See what your provider offers.
Source: "Saving Money on Your Insurance: Insurance Coverage for College Students," Texas Department of Insurance, www.tdi.state.tx.us/commish/columns/cc0801.html
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