This is an exciting but stressful period if someone in your family is heading off to college for the first time in a few weeks. Seems like there are 1001 things to think about and plan for. Make sure insurance is one of them – preferably at or near the top of your list. That's because there are more than 50,000 thefts and other property crimes on US campuses every year – and countless more routine and emergency medical incidents.
In some cases, existing homeowners, health and auto insurance policies provide the coverage you need. In others you may need separate or additional coverage, especially if the student will be away from home. Here are some issues to help you decide:
It's amazing how the value of a student's personal belongings quickly add up, often to a five figure number. You should check whether your homeowners insurance covers this – but remember, event that may require expensive items such as computers or valuables to be separately listed in the policy. Otherwise, consider renter's insurance, which has the advantage of liability protection and may even include certain medical costs.
Most family policies cover dependents who are full-time students to age 23 (or beyond in some states), but definitions of "full time" vary by insurer. Students who marry will likely lose this coverage. Also, if your policy is through a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and the student is outside their area, although they'll probably be covered locally for emergencies, they may have to return home for routine medical visits.
Separate student health insurance plans are available but benefits are usually limited compared with family policies. Premiums are affected by a range of considerations including deductibles and co-pays.
The key issue here is whether the student's existing auto insurance policy imposes any limitations on coverage for extended out-of-state use – or the other way around: does the policy meet the minimum auto insurance requirements of the state in which it is being used. You also have to let the insurer know when the auto is going to be parked or garaged at a new location, especially, again, if it's out-of-state.
The important point is the need always to check the extent of your existing coverage before the student leaves. Of course, we would be happy to work with you on this and provide further assistance.