Insurance considerations for your College Bound student
If your student is about to leave for college, here are some considerations when it comes to protecting your student’s safety, insuring their belongings and protecting your assets in case there’s an accident.
Property and Liability Insurance
There are several ways to insure your student’s belongings away from home at college and protect yourself in case he or she has an accident and becomes part of a lawsuit. Even though your student may not be a minor, anyone like a parent can be brought into a lawsuit so here are considerations on liability insurance as well.
· Renters insurance - Obtaining a separate renters insurance policy has many benefits.
1. Renters insurance typically has more coverage because these policies can have lower deductibles like 250 or 500 which is most likely lower than your home insurance deductible. Since most college students possess mostly cell phones, computers and electronics, bikes, clothing, small appliances, you can get a lot more coverage on a renters insurance policy because you can obtain a low deductible and certain items may not have a deductible depending on how your build your policy.
2. If there is a claim, you are keeping the claim off your home insurance policy. That keeps a claims surcharge off your home insurance policy which would stay on for 3 – 5 years depending on the carrier.
3. You are adding more liability coverage because renters insurance includes a base of 100,000 of third party liability coverage. I recommend 300,000 at a minimum and a personal umbrella policy for parents. This liability coverage is coverage in addition to what you may already have on your home insurance. If you do not have home insurance then you will want to be sure to purchase renters insurance so you have this coverage.
4. Parents can still be listed as a named insured or additional insured for coverage related to any incidents at this premise. There should be no charge for this. This is highly recommend especially if you have a housing contract that states the parent is responsible.
5. Home insurance policies limit off premise coverage so obtaining a separate renters policy allows you to control the amount of coverage at college.
6. Renters insurance run about $10/month but you can build a policy that fits your budget.
· Most home insurance policies do extend coverage to your students away at college.
1. Always check with your insurance agent to be sure what the coverage is.
§ Ask about the following: deductible, coverage limit by category (computers, bikes, electronics, jewelry) , restrictions,
2. Some policies may need to be endorsed showing your student’s new location before coverage extends.
3. If you are out of state ask if there is coverage in Texas and how the claims would be serviced here in Texas. If you have an out of state insurance carrier, ask if there are local claims representatives in Texas to help your student?
Identity theft protection
Some carriers offer Identity theft protection on your home or renters insurance for $3/month. Some credit card companies offer it too at no charge. This is coverage to pay expenses after a ID theft has occurred. Policies vary but most of them pay up to 25,000 for legal expenses, credit monitoring charges, etc.
· First line of defense of id theft is knowing the best practices to avoid it. Talk to your student about how to store checkbooks, credit cards, passports and IDs in the dorm or apartment. There are small safes with metal ropes that you can secure to prevent the safe from being stolen. There are credit card wallet cases that you see in travel stores that prevent your card number from being skimmed.
· Talk to your student about using the ATM machines. First of all there are a lot of scams at ATMs so if you have to use one, use one at the bank, not a random one on the side of a street. Use safety precautions to avoid being robbed at the ATM machine.
· The three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion) offer credit freeze services for $10/year. It blocks anyone from running your student’s social security number. It prevents anyone from opening credit or extracting credit history. It can be unfrozen for a small fee as well for the times you need to apply for credit.
· If your student is away at college without a car, please let your insurance agent know so you can get a discount on your auto insurance. The discount applies if they are 100 miles or more away from home without a car.
· Do not remove your student from the auto insurance policy. Most parents are eager to lower their auto insurance premiums and remove the student from the policy. If the student is removed from the policy and ends up driving someone’s vehicle at college, they will not be covered. That includes if they rent a car or borrow a car.
· If your student has a vehicle at college, make sure the policy reflects the new garaging address so the carrier knows where the vehicle is.
1. Updating the policy is important with the new garaging address.
2. You’ll want to be sure the student knows where proof of auto insurance is located in vehicle or online.
3. Program roadside assistance numbers in your student’s cell phone.
4. Be sure your student knows what to do if there is have an accident (who to call, get witnesses, take pictures), etc.
· Find in advance health providers, pharmacies and emergency services convenient to your child’s dorm or apartment who takes your health insurance if you are using your own insurance. You will want to choose providers who are in your network to take advantage of the in-network benefits, copays and deductibles. You will want to do this before there’s an emergency just to be prepared. Be sure your student knows where to go if they need healthcare. Pack this information with your child in multiple places so they can have it if they have an emergency. Cell phones are fine but have it in a second place in case the cell phone goes missing. If they have prescription allergies that should be included in case a second party is using the information.
· Have your student take a picture of their health insurance card and store in their cell phone so they have a backup in case they need it but did not carry it with them.
Good luck to your college student this year. What an exciting time with so many new experiences.