A PARENTS GUIDE TO INSURANCE COVERAGE AT COLLEGE
Insurance coverage for college: 101
This is the time of year I often receive questions about the coverages needed to protect students who are away at school. These requests are common for parents sending their children off to college for the first time.
Moving into a dorm or apartment, buying a new computer or furniture, taking a vehicle to school – all of these big events have insurance implications. Make sure your son or daughter is protected before they head off to school with this overview of insurance coverage at college.
Courts have long determined that a dependent child away at school is still legally a resident of their parents’ household. In fact, with the policy contracts used by many insurance companies, there are situations where no additional coverage needs to be purchased.
So what coverages apply to your student while they are away at college?
First and foremost, they are protected by the Personal Liability section of your homeowner’s policy for bodily injury or property damage they cause. However, it’s important to note that intentional acts are not covered. Your son or daughter will be facing new responsibilities and exposures, so it’s a great time to consider purchasing a Personal Umbrella policy to provide an extra layer of liability protection for your family.
As far as all the gear that will be moved into the dorm room, coverage for personal property is available up to an amount that is equal to 10 percent of the personal property coverage limit on the parents’ policy. Personal property includes things like clothing, small furniture and appliances, and electronics. Of course, the policy deductible would apply in the event of a property loss, such as theft of personal property.
Electronics, such as a laptop or tablet, may be one of the greatest concerns. Some insurance carriers allow these items to be listed separately on the homeowners policy so that a deductible would not apply to a loss. However, I often discourage this type of coverage on most of these items as I think it’s prudent for policyholders to self-insure smaller losses. Small losses may be looked upon unfavorably by insurance companies, may increase the premium at renewal time, or could even result in coverage being discontinued when combined with other losses.
In some cases, the student (or parents) may sign a lease for an off-campus apartment. While it’s possible that coverage may still be available by way of the parents’ policy, this is often a good opportunity to equip the student with their own renter’s insurance policy to ensure that there’s no coverage question.
Last, but not least, you may need to add an apartment building owner to a renters policy. Occasionally a landlord will require the renter to carry insurance coverage – particularly liability coverage. In these instances, the landlord can be added to the policy as an Additional Interest. This allows the building owner/landlord to be listed on the policy declarations and to be notified in the event that the renters insurance cancels. The Additional Interest endorsement does not provide any coverage to the landlord.
I hope that this summary is helpful to families that will be heading to campus this fall.
This is a good time to quote your insurance and see what discounts are available from different carriers. Get started now.
Review your coverage options.
With a child heading off to college, saving money never felt so good!