Your back-to-college insurance guide

Summer is coming to an end, which means college students are heading back to campus. The back-to-college checklist is always big, but we want to help to prepare your student for the unexpected.

Your child may be covered by your health insurance plan. Still, it’s important to consider insurance for your college student’s possessions, apartment or dorm room, and the car they take to school.

Here’s what you need to know about insurance if your college student is…

Living in a dorm

Suppose your child is living in on-campus housing. In that case, your homeowner’s insurance policy will likely extend to their belongings at college.

There are some limits. Contents coverage is usually just 10 percent of the amount you have for home possessions. So, if your policy covers $10,000 in losses, only $1,000 worth of your student’s belongings are protected.

Additionally, certain types of items may not be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. Double-check the coverage of things like sporting equipment, electronics, or designer jewelry. If these items aren’t covered, you might consider investing in a floater policy for those possessions specifically.

Some parents spring for a dorm insurance policy to provide financial assistance should their child’s room get robbed. However, this may not be necessary for all students, Consumers Reports pointed out.

The risk of theft varies depending on the college campus. Parents can check out specific statistics for their children’s college campuses on the FBI’s website. According to the latest National Center for Education Statistics data, crime on college campuses decreased slightly between 2017 and 2018. However, about half of all crime was attributed to burglaries. For every 10,000 students, there were about 9 burglaries that year.

If the odds of your child’s dorm room being robbed are too high for your comfort, a dorm room insurance policy may be a good solution.

According to Consumer Reports, deductibles aren’t too expensive – some as low as $25. And, if something does happen, you won’t have to file a claim in your homeowner’s policy.

Living in an apartment

Suppose your child is living on their own in a rented apartment unit. In that case, your homeowner’s insurance policy will probably not extend to property kept here. In this case, your child should consider getting a renters insurance policy to cover theft or damage and any accidents that leave the apartment damaged or a guest injured. In some cases, maintaining a renters insurance policy may even be required.

The Chicago Tribune pointed out that renter’s insurance policies aren’t as expensive as homeowners insurance policies. They typically cost less than $300 per year and provide between $20,000 to $30,000 in content coverage and $100,000 to $300,000 in liability coverage.

If your child has roommates, they all must have their own renter’s insurance policies. These plans only cover the name on the insurance policy. This means if your child’s roommate has their own policy, it won’t cover your kid unless their name is included. Roommates can simplify insurance by purchasing a policy together.

Remember that some insurers will extend your homeowners policy to your child living in off-campus housing. Double-check by contacting your insurance provider before investing or encouraging your child to invest in a renters insurance policy.

Taking the car to college

If you’re sending your child off with a set of car keys, it’s essential to think carefully about auto insurance.

If your child’s primary address is still your home and they are a full-time college student, this may not apply. Additionally, this might not be necessary if your child doesn’t have legal ownership of the car – like if the title doesn’t have their name on it.

If you take your child off your insurance policy, you’ll likely be rewarded with a lower rate for not having a driver under age 25 on your plan. However, your child will most likely be paying a higher rate than you’re saving for paying for their own plan.

If your child gets into an accident or lends the car to a friend who then gets into an accident, be prepared for higher rates.

If your child is not taking the car to college, you might consider taking them off your insurance plan. There are pros and cons to this. You’ll probably get a lower rate, but your child won’t be covered when they come home for summer or winter break and wants to use the car.

If the campus is more than 100 miles away from your home, ask about an occasional driver discount since it’s unlikely your child will borrow the car often. Also, ask about a good student discount if you have a stellar student. You can still realize savings if you keep your child on the policy.

An exciting and important time

Sending your kid to college is an exciting time. Still, making sure you and your student have your financial responsibilities in order is essential. To learn more about what you should do before your child heads back to campus, reach out to an agent at Bank Midwest.

Updated post. Originally published August  2017.


Want to hear more about what should be on the back-to-college checklist for your student? Listen to our episode of Dream, Plan, Live about insurance policies for college students.


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