Do College Students Need Insurance?

Whew!  You just got your college student settled into their college dorm or apartment after likely making a number of purchases for towels, sheets, waste baskets, storage boxes, and the list goes on.  Hopefully they have everything they need. But, did you think about insurance?

It’s a good idea for parents with college students away from home to check their homeowners, health, and auto insurance policies to see which situations are covered and which aren’t and if you might need to buy more protection for peace of mind.

Homeowners or Renters Insurance. Most kids leave home with electronic gear, clothes, bicycles, and lots of other stuff.  In many cases, a dependent child’s personal belongs will be covered up to a certain percentage of their parent’s protection plan so long as the student lives in an organized living unit such as a dormitory, sorority or fraternity.  However, there may be a 10 percent limit on possessions coverage because the items are not in the home.  If that is the case, additional coverage for PCs, tablets, and other pricey items may be an option to consider with higher limits and coverage for loss or damage.

Students who study abroad or choose to live in an apartment, rented house, or mobile home may not have coverage under a parents’ homeowners policy.  In that case, a separate basic renter’s policy would be warranted to protect personal belongings.  These plans usually protect students against theft, fire, accidental damage by electricity or water, flood, earthquake, vandalism, and other personal loss that may occur while at school or studying abroad. Personal property items usually covered include computers, laptops, tablets, smart phones, books, clothes, bicycles, and much more.

Health Insurance. Students under 26-years of age and attending school in the same state as their parents generally can stay on their parents’ insurance policy. However, it is important to check to see whether the plan network extends to doctors and hospitals in the area where the student will be.  Many policies provide little or no coverage for out-of-network care, except for emergencies. Students who go out-of-state, are 26-years or older, or are not claimed as a dependent will need to explore health insurance alternatives such as purchasing an individual policy through the local health insurance exchange or directly from an agent or through their college if a health insurance plan is offered.  Student health plans generally offer basic coverage for the campus clinic and a nearby hospital.  These plans may also be a good supplement for those students who find themselves in an out-of-network situation with their family plan.  For any plan option, the student should have an insurance card with them at school in the event that they need medical treatment.

Auto Insurance. Let your insurer know if your child will be taking a car to school; there may be a price adjustment based on the school’s location. Make sure that the student has a current proof of insurance card in their vehicle along with the 24-hr claim number. If a student will be more than 100 miles from home without a vehicle, some companies offer a price break; in this case, you will want to keep the student on your policy so that they can drive at home on breaks. Car or no car, remember the good-student discount; students who maintain a B average or better qualify for a 5% to 15% discount.

College is an exciting time in a child’s life. As you say the last goodbye in the parking lot, you realize more than ever that you can’t protect your student from every risk.  But you can provide an “umbrella” from the unpredictable incidents by making sure that they have the proper insurance coverage and making them aware of the coverage they have.

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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