If you have a son or daughter heading off for college, you’re probably thinking about dorm supplies, textbooks and how you’re going to cope with being apart from your ‘baby’. But if you’re like many parents, insurance considerations aren’t top of mind. Unfortunately, that oversight could end up costing you or your child big bucks, something nobody needs on top of the cost of college tuition.
The fact is, you may currently have too little—or too much—coverage, depending on factors such as:
- Whether or not your student is taking a car to school.
- Where your child will be living (on campus or off).
- What’s in your child’s suitcase, such as expensive electronics, furniture, instruments, sporting equipment or jewelry.
- If your child plans to leave belongings at school over summer break.
- If your student is taking out loans to help with tuition.
Before your student hits the books, it’s a good idea to hit your insurance policy manuals. And to talk to your independent insurance agent. Doing so can ensure your child and your family have the protection you need against accidents or losses that happen away from home.
Here are a few tips to help make sure your insurance policies make the grade:
1. Tune up your auto policy.
- Let your agent know if your student is taking a covered car to school. Reporting the new location where the car will be kept is necessary to ensure full coverage in the event of an accident or theft.
- Ask for a discount if your student is leaving his car at home, especially if school is more than 100 miles away. Such discounts could save you, on average, at least 16 percent.
- Check into good student discounts—on average, a good student discount could save you 5 to 15 percent, adding up to hundreds of dollars per year.
- Remind your student to drive safely and discourage lending the car to roommates or friends.
2. Make sure your homeowner’s policy lives up.
- Check if your policy provides protection for your student’s personal possessions at school, and find out your coverage limits. Some home insurance policies only cover possession in a dorm room up to 10 percent of your total personal possession coverage. So if you have $50,000 in coverage, your student’s belongings will only be covered up to $5,000. Your child’s electronics alone may exceed that amount.
- Add up the value of the items your child is taking to school. If the cost is more than your coverage, consider a floater, a replacement cost endorsement or a stand-alone policy for big-ticket items.
- See if your policy extends to off-campus housing. If not, consider a renters policy. Roommates may be able to share the policy, and the costs.
- Update policies as needed to cover new belongings at school, including pets.
- Check on restrictions that could deny coverage for belongings left unattended at school for long periods of times, such as over summer break.
- Remind students to take care of their property. Most insurance policies don’t cover mishaps, like dropping an iPhone in a beer mug.
3. Look into life insurance for you—and your student.
- If you’re paying for your child’s education, consider a term life insurance policy during the time your child is in college. If something happens to you, the policy can help her afford to stay in school.
- If your child has loans to help with tuition, look into a term life insurance policy in his name. Proceeds can pay off the balance of the loan if something happens to your child before it’s paid in full.
4. Don’t forget to check up on health insurance.
- In addition to talking to your independent insurance agent about your auto, homeowner’s and life insurance policies, it’s a good idea to check in with your health insurance company, too.
- Health insurance companies must allow dependents to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26. But some plans might have geographic limits or may not cover certain conditions, such as sports-related injuries for college athletes.