Kids Headed Off to College?
We know it seems like just yesterday your kids were headed off to their first day of kindergarten. But amidst the tears and sadness you feel as your children head off to college, there are some more important things to dwell on… like your insurance! Will they have property coverage inside their dorm or apartment? If they don’t take a car with them should you remove them from your auto insurance policy? College is expensive enough without finding out too late that an accident or theft isn’t covered under parents’ current policies.
- Coverage for personal property: Most homeowners policies provide 10% if coverage C (personal property) for property owned by an insured while it is at a residence other than the insured residence. That means if the contents of a policyholder’s home are insured for $100,000, a student’s property up to $10,000 would be covered if living in a dormitory-provided the damage is caused by a covered peril and the student meets the definition of an insured. **Certain items, such as jewelry or expensive electronics, may require special coverage, or a “rider.” For apartments or houses off-campus, the same coverage generally applies. Of course, renters insurance is strongly recommended if a particular policy does not cover a student’s personal property.
- Liability coverage: There usually is an exclusion for damage to property rented to an insured, so generally damage to a dorm room or apartment would not be covered.
- Ensuring adequate coverage: You should speak to your agent and ask specific questions regarding your unique situation. Also, it is recommended to create an inventory of the items your child will be taking to school, as is keeping photos of and receipts for the items.
- Renters Insurance: If a student’s needs can’t be met under your current policy, don’t forget renters insurance! It can be very inexpensive, as little as $10 a month!
- Coverage without a car at school: If your student will continue to drive while at home on school breaks, they should continue to be listed on your auto policy. If they are attending school more than 100 miles from home, and are not taking a vehicle with them, the policy will qualify for a “distant-student” discount.
- Coverage with a car at school: In most instances, a car registered to a parent and listed on their policy will be covered if used by a listed student away at school. But insureds should make sure that their insurance carrier writes coverage in the college’s state and location. It is important to let your agent know if your child is taking a car, because the principal location of the vehicle could result in a change in premium.
- Driving a friend’s car at school: Students generally would be covered while driving a friend’s car if they are listed on their parents’ policy and do not have regular use of the vehicle. The coverage would be secondary in this case, as the carrier for the friend’s vehicle likely would be the primary coverage.
- Coverage discounts: In addition to the possible distant-student discount mentioned above, students may qualify for a good-student discount. To quality, a student must be enrolled in at least four courses per term as a full-time student at an accredited college or university and meet certain academic qualifications. Also, drivers under the age of 21 who complete a driver education course may be eligible for a policy discount.
Hopefully now you will have some peace of mind with your child’s insurance coverage while they are away at school! Although we it will not make up for your sleepless nights and empty nest syndrome…