Supporting a college student raises worries: Are they making friends? Studying enough? Partying too much?
One thing you may not have considered, though, is whether your insurance policy provides them with adequate coverage. When a child leaves home for college, it can impact your coverage in multiple ways. For example, if the student plans to live at a different address for most of the year, you should call your agent within 30 days of the move to make sure there are no gaps in coverage. Bonus: In some cases, you may even pay less! Start by considering the three basic coverages below.
Parents should contact an agent right away when a child on their auto policy starts college. Every state has different rates and risk factors. A representative can weigh in on your individual circumstances and tell you whether you need to make any adjustments. Be sure to share where your child is enrolled, where the car will be parked most of the year, and when the change in location goes into effect. Be prepared to answer the following questions too:
- Is the student full-time or part-time (12 or more hours per semester)?
- Does the student live at home, in a dorm or off campus?
- Does the student have a daily commute to school in the vehicle, and how far is it each way?
- What state does the student primarily reside in?
- Is the school more than 100 miles from home?
- Where will the car be parked most of the time (on or off campus)?
- Will the vehicle be driven or shipped to its college destination?
Another option is having your child get his or her own policy. In most states, GEICO offers a Family Pricing Program, which transitions young drivers from their parents’ policy to their own. This may be worth exploring, particularly if your child is headed to a different state—and may be less expensive.
These days, a student’s first home away from home is just as likely to include expensive laptops, cell phones, tablets and wireless speakers, as their parents’ house. Because so much of this tech is portable, college theft is a big concern. And while many homeowners policies cover digital devices off premises, your child’s choice of college housing, whether it be on or off-campus, could affect that coverage. Call your agent to be certain. There may be a limit to personal property coverage for a student living off campus, so an additional renters policy may be advisable. Regardless of where your student lives, if he or she is bringing several thousands of dollars’ worth of valuables to school—jewelry, athletic equipment, musical instruments—consider looking into extra coverage because often there are cash limits on certain categories under a regular homeowners policy.
It’s to be expected that kids may let loose in college—and you may want extra insurance for peace of mind. Because your child is a dependent, you can be held responsible for their actions, even while they’re away at school—so an umbrella policy may be helpful.
Homeowners and auto insurance policies have limits when a claim occurs. When that limit is exhausted, the umbrella policy kicks in, providing extra protection, from $1 million to $10 million worth of additional coverage, for things like accidental injuries to others or property damage. For example, if parents get sued because of damage their child causes to an apartment, the typical homeowners policy provides about $300,000 in liability coverage, while an umbrella policy offers a higher limit that the customer can select. Should someone file suit against your child, an umbrella policy further protects your assets and, at the extreme end of the spectrum, could keep you from going bankrupt because of a lawsuit.
And while more coverage means a higher premium, it might be better to be overcautious than underprepared.
By Danielle Blundell