For High School Seniors, February and March are usually crunch time for making decisions on where they will be spending the next four years of their lives. If they are college bound, they will be heading to their new campuses in less than six months.Per the National Center for Education Statistics, 20.7 million students are expected to enroll at universities in the United States, for September 2017, 13.3 million will be living away from home studying and attending at four year colleges. Now is the time for choosing a college, finding a residence hall, looking for compatible roommates, chasing financial aid, and making endless lists of everything you will need to remember before you drop off your child and wave goodbye.

But something to keep in mind and add to that endless list of things to do in the next few months; think about college and how it effects your insurance.

1. AUTO INSURANCE  – Whether your child takes his car to school, or leaves it home, it is always a wise idea to keep your child on your auto policy or maintain his/her auto policy while away at school. The multiple reasons for this, include:

  • He’ll be fully protected if he returns home for a weekend visit and wants to drive.
  • He will have insurance protection when he’s driving a friend’s car while away.
  • He’ll be fully protected if he’s hit by a car while walking or bicycling, or while being a passenger in somebody else’s car.
  • Keeping him on your auto policy maintains continuous insurance coverage, which may beneficial when he gets his own auto insurance policy.
  • As a full-time student, your child may qualify for a Good Student Discount (if he maintains a grade average of 3.0 or higher).
  • You can also apply for the Distant Student Discount if your child attends college 100 miles away from home.

If your student takes a car to school, she or he should remain on your auto policy. In fact, your child should, since it is usually much more expensive for young drivers and students to have their own policy. Not only do insurance companies prefer that, but it may also save you money, particularly if your student attends college in a less populated area of the state.

Full-time college students can usually remain covered on their parents’ auto policy if their primary address is the parents’ house, even if they attend college out of state. Make sure that the policy meets the minimum auto liability requirements for that state.

If your student owns the vehicle and holds the title, they'll need their own auto policy.

2.     HOMEOWNERS OR RENTERS INSURANCE You've bought your son a brand-new computer as a graduation present. Soon will be filling his dorm room with computer equipment, I-Phone docks, and a flat screen TV. What happens if his room gets broken into, or there is a fire? If your child continues to live in your household, his or her belongings are covered under your policy.

  • If your child stays in a dorm room on campus and you, the parents, have renters or homeowner’s insurance for your home, your insurance policy will extend to cover their belongings, up to a 10% limit of your personal property coverage. That means, if your renter’s or homeowner’s policy has a limit of $200,000 for personal property, there will be coverage for up to $20,000 for your child’s belongings. Keep in mind that coverage is subject to your renter’s or homeowner’s policy deductible, usually $500 - $1,000.
  •  Check with us to make sure the personal property limit on your homeowner’s policy is adequate. You might need additional coverage to insure expensive items like jewelry, musical instruments, or certain sports equipment.
  • Please note: Will your child return home or travel abroad for longer periods of time as part of their college experience? If they leave their belongings behind in a dorm or fraternity / sorority house for more than 45 days, your homeowners policy will no longer cover those belongings. In that situation, it's important to either ship the belongings home during extended absences or temporarily store the items in a commercial storage facility.

If your college student lives in his or her own place off-campus, or shares an off-campus house or apartment with friends, things get a little trickier.

  • You might have to set up a separate renter’s policy for your student. That will not only cover his or her "stuff", but also provide liability coverage in case somebody gets hurt in their place. In addition, many landlords have made renter’s insurance a requirement of the lease. Renter’s insurance policies are usually quite affordable, generally less than $15 per month.

I know that all of this is just another item on the endless checklist that is preparing your child to go away to college. But it is the responsible thing to do, in anticipation of what could happen. Your children still need you to protect them, even though they consider themselves all grown up. :) 

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