When sending your kid off to college for the first time, your insurance coverage most likely isn’t on your radar. It probably isn’t even in the same hemisphere as you. There are far more important thoughts to process… Your baby is leaving you for the first time. Did you choose the right school? Will they be safe? Are they ever going to choose a major? And of course, how in the world are we going to pay for all of this?
College is way too expensive, am I right? Expensive isn’t even the right word for it. Before I go down the rabbit hole of asking “Why in the world does it have to cost so dang much?”, I’ll stop myself and just say this: College is way too expensive to let a gap in your insurance cause you more financial woes. Here are some (hopefully) helpful tips for you, parents, in the hopes of calming at least some of those nerves…
- Your kid’s possessions – how are they covered? Most homeowners’ insurance policies provide 10% of Personal Property coverage of an insured who is away from home. So, if you have $100,000 of coverage, then your son or daughter has coverage up to $10,000 if living in a dorm, an apartment, etc, while at school.
- Ensuring adequate coverage – We ask our clients to do this for their own possessions, and the same applies here…take an inventory of what your college student is taking with them to school. This makes for smooth sailing at claim-time, should something happen, and also helps you to figure out if you have enough coverage extending to their things.
- Liability coverage – What if your son or daughter causes damage to the room or building in which they are staying? There may or may not be coverage for this under your home policy, so check with your agent to be sure.
- Renter’s policy – If you are at all uneasy about using your own homeowner’s insurance to extend to your college-bound kid, buy a renter’s policy for them. These are very inexpensive and provide peace of mind that they have the coverage they need.
- Coverage without a car at school – Even if your kid isn’t taking a vehicle with them to school, they still need to continue to be listed on your policy as a driver, this way they are covered when they come home for spring break or over the holidays. (No, we can’t take them off, then put them back on, then take them off….you see where I’m going with this….. Keep reading to find out why) Also, check with your agent to see if they qualify for an “Away-at-school” discount for attending a school that is a certain distance away from home.
- Coverage with a car at school – In most cases, a car registered to parents and listed on their policy will be covered if used by a listed student away at school. But you should make sure that your insurance company writes coverage in the college’s state and location. Be aware that a change to the garaging location of the vehicle could result in a change in premium.
- Driving a friend’s car at school – When in doubt, remember this….Insurance follows the vehicle. This applies whether your kid is driving a friend’s car or the friend is driving yours (yikes!). When you lend your vehicle to someone, you are also lending your insurance. So your kid drives Friend’s car. Your kid wrecks Friend’s car. Friend’s car insurance will be the first to respond for coverage. Here’s why we cannot take your son or daughter off of your auto insurance policy when they are away at school. Because your policy could be the second policy to respond for coverage in the event of a claim. AND, depending on your state (ahem, this goes for you, PA residents), your policy may be the first policy to respond if, God forbid, your kid was hurt in the accident.
Please remember, coverages and policies differ depending on your insurance company or the state in which you reside. As always, call your agent to discuss any specific concerns you have.
And parents, good luck to you as you start this new chapter in your life. May it be as painless and as free from stress as possible. I know, I know, I’m dreaming, right? But at least you can feel better about the insurance now!