When your child goes off to college there are a million things to worry about. Will they do well in their classes? Will they get along with their roommates? Will they call to let you know how they're doing?
At the bottom of the list, if at all, is how their insurance needs change now that they are away at school.
Insurance and a College Student's "Stuff"
Here are some common questions you may find yourself asking, followed by my insurance tips:
- Is their "stuff" covered under my home insurance policy? Well, it depends. If the college student is in a temporary location (campus housing), then yes. As long as their main residence is at home with you, Mom and Dad, they are still residents of the household and their "stuff" is covered.
- When do we need to get coverage for "stuff"? They moved out from the nest, got their own apartment, and are living at school year-round. They changed their mailing address, driver's license, etc. Now it's time to buy them a renter's insurance policy to cover their contents and liability.
- Are there any limitations to values on a student's belongings when at school? If they are still insured under your insurance policy, yes. It's called the amount of personal property kept at a temporary second location. The limit is normally 10% of the amount listed on your coverage "C" contents limit. So, if you have a content limit on your home insurance policy of $150,000, there is $15,000 available at that temporary location.
- Are there limits on individual items? Most home insurance policies have some limits, especially on jewelry. Do you have a single item your child is taking to school that is of higher value? If so, your best bet is to insure it separately. Some examples are jewelry, an expensive musical instrument, or a music collection.
Cars and College
If your child will have a vehicle on campus, you may have even more questions and worries. Don't stress, I have more answers for you:
- Do I need to notify my agent/insurance company if my child is taking a car to college? Yes, you should always notify your agent/insurance company if the vehicle is being kept at a different location than what is listed the policy. This is because they want to know where the vehicle is being garaged. However, if your student is NOT taking a car to college (and goes to school over 100 miles away) let the agent know as this may save a few dollars on your auto insurance policy.
- When is it time for my student to get his own auto insurance policy? If your college student is living in a permanent residence outside the home and has their own address (and possibly an out-of-state driver's license) then it's time to re-title the car in their name and obtain a separate auto policy.
Review Automobile Safety with Your College Student
Here are some additional vehicle-related safety tips that you should review with your child before they head off to college:
- Don't leave your car unlocked at school. Lock the car and remove any personal belongings that can be seen through the car windows (portable satellite navigation and wires, CD's, clothing, etc.). Park it near a street lamp or bright parking lot light.
- Don't loan your car to anyone. It's important to remember that in the event of an accident, the owner of the car is responsible for the potential lawsuit from injured parties. Your own assets could be jeopardized (if you are sued beyond the limits on your policy) and your auto insurance rates could be affected as well.
- Don't get in a car as a passenger if your driver has been drinking. Yes, this is my favorite as I speak from experience. We parents have a tendency to worry. If the driver is willing to give the student of yours a ride home and has been drinking, try to convince your child NOT to get in the car. That 2 a.m. phone call will be burned in your memory for a long time.
What About Discounts?
Finally, my last tip is to talk about discounts. Good grades are not just important for getting into college! Good grades in college could also lower your auto insurance premium. If your college student is on the Dean's list and you're not sure if you're getting a discount, call your agent!