A Lesson in Insurance for College Students

The most important insurance needs to consider for college students
Girl going for lecture in college. A Lesson in Insurance for College Students.

College is an exciting time for high school graduates but could be a little nerve-wracking for the parents. Students are likely living away from home for the first time and taking on increased responsibilities. 

There are many ways for college students to be safe while attending school, one of which is having the proper insurance to protect you and your college student from losses. But what type of insurance does a college student need? An independent insurance agent can answer this question and help you and your family get the right coverage for all family members.

Why Do College Students Need Insurance?

Insurance may not be the first thing on your mind when your child leaves for college, but moving into their own space means that students will acquire their own things. From laptops and iPads to sports equipment, bikes, music, televisions, and furniture, all of these personal belongings need protection. 

In addition, your student needs protection. College is a fun time, but sometimes the best times result in injuries or other accidents. There are a few strange crossovers where a student may still be included under a parent's coverage, but some cases where they will not be. An agent can discuss the entire situation with you, so they can know how to help you best.

What Kind of Property Coverage Do College Students Need in the Dorms?

Students who plan on living in the dorm or somewhere else on campus will receive coverage from the parent's homeowners insurance for “offsite personal property.” Typically this is sufficient enough coverage for all of the student's belongings. The protection level typically offered is based on a percentage of your contents coverage. It looks something like this:

Your contents coverage will typically be around 50% of your total coverage, up to your limits. The percentage of offsite coverage can vary but is usually around 10% of your contents coverage amount, up to a maximum of $1,000.

Also, the student has the benefit of being covered under the liability portion of the parents’ homeowners policy. This protection covers your family member from damage if a friend or visitor to your child’s apartment has a slip and fall accident while they are away at college.

There is one caveat with homeowners insurance in these situations. The student must reside at the parents’ home primarily. In other words, they must be residing away from home temporarily (during the school terms) and live with you for the rest of the year. So students who have already moved out of the family home will need to secure their own coverage.

What Kind of Property Coverage Do College Students Need in a Rental Property?

For students who plan on renting property away from home, a renters insurance policy can help protect their personal belongings. 

Renters insurance covers possessions from theft, fire, vandalism, tornadoes, and other types of damage. Most policies also will cover belongings when they aren’t in a house or apartment, such as items stolen from a car or a hotel room.

Liability coverage is also typically included in a renters policy. This covers legal bills if the student is involved in causing accidental injuries to someone or damage to someone else's property.

Renters insurance could likely be purchased through your current homeowners insurance company, which may offer a discount when purchasing multiple policies. 

What Kind of Car Coverage Do College Students Need?

Teen drivers remain the riskiest group of drivers on the road. The risk of motor vehicle accidents is higher among teens aged 16-19 than any other age group. For this reason, auto insurance is worth keeping in mind when your teen goes to college. 

If your child plans on taking their car to school, you'll want to let your insurance company know. Your rate may change depending on where the car will be located. Even if they don't plan on taking a vehicle to college, you don't want to remove them from your auto policy as they may still drive a car when they're home visiting.

It'll be more cost-effective to have your teen on your auto policy, but whether you keep them on your policy or move them to their own policy, you'll want the standard auto insurance coverages. 

  • Liability coverage: To protect against third-party injuries and damage to someone else's property in an at-fault accident. 
  • Collision coverage: To repair or replace the vehicle if it is damaged or totaled in a collision, regardless of fault. 
  • Comprehensive coverage: To repair or replace the vehicle if it is damaged or totaled by a non-collision event such as a hailstorm or theft. 

This is the primary auto coverage that benefits most drivers. Additional coverages are available that you can consider for your teen based on how often they'll be driving and the conditions they'll be driving in.

  • Rental reimbursement coverage
  • Roadside assistance coverage
  • Medical payments coverage or personal injury protection
  • Uninsured motorist coverage

College students are still relatively inexperienced drivers. It's wise to sit down with your insurance agent to discuss your policy limits, whether any coverages should have an increased limit, and if you should add any coverages to your policy. You might be eligible for a “student away at school” car insurance discount if your child is not taking a car and will be 100 miles or more away from home. 

What Kind of Liability Coverage Do College Students Need?

Liability coverage protects you and your student in auto accidents. Every state mandates this coverage. However, in most cases, the state minimum requirement is insufficient coverage. Increasing your limits to the maximum you can afford can help ensure you are covered if your college student does cause an accident. 

  • Bodily injury and property damage liability coverage: This coverage provides bodily injury liability or the cost of medical expenses or lost wages of those involved in the accident. It also includes property damage liability, which pays for repairing the other party’s vehicle or for additional property damage.
  • Umbrella liability insurance: This adds an extra layer of cushioning for your family. Umbrella coverage extends your liability if an accident maxes out your basic liability coverage.

What Is Tuition Insurance?

A unique type of insurance coverage for parents sending their children to college is tuition insurance. If you're shelling out a significant amount of money for college tuition and fees, you might consider tuition insurance.

This insurance provides tuition, fees, room, and board reimbursement if a student withdraws because of an injury or illness, such as a severe or chronic illness, mental health condition, or substance abuse.

You can check with the school or university for their refund policy and to see if they offer tuition insurance for situations like these. Most schools only provide a partial refund of tuition for the weeks of school, and virtually none give a refund for housing or academic fees. 

How Can an Independent Insurance Agent Help?

College is an exciting yet overwhelming time for everyone involved. You've done a great job of protecting your child thus far in life, and want to continue to protect them as they venture off into the world. An independent insurance agent is a great place to start.

Agents will talk with you, free of charge, to go through your existing policies and make recommendations on where you should add coverage based on your changing needs. If something occurs at school, an agent can help you file a claim and ensure you're getting the coverage you've been paying for. 

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TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Jeffrey Green

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