scc offers insurance tips for parents with students heading to college
Local

SCC offers insurance tips for parents with students heading to college

college student
(© Viktoriia – stock.adobe.com)

August is the time many students head to college, some for the first time. In addition to new classes, instructors, friends and living quarters, this time can also bring new insurance needs.

The State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance encourages Virginia families with college students to make sure their college prep checklist includes a thorough review of both their own insurance needs as well as those of their students.

“Protect yourself and your family financially by ensuring your student has the insurance coverage they need before they leave for college,” said Virginia insurance commissioner Scott A. White. “Review insurance coverage for their health, auto, living space and belongings and make sure they understand their coverage.”

The Bureau encourages parents and students to shop around for insurance coverage and compare premiums and policy provisions. Read any insurance policy carefully and make sure you understand exactly what is covered, as well as exclusions, deductibles and limits. If you have questions or concerns, contact your insurance agent or company. Additionally, the bureau offers the following insurance considerations for parents and college students:

Health

College students have several options for getting health insurance. Under federal law, students may be able to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26 years old. If your student remains on your health insurance policy, make sure they have a copy of any insurance cards and understand what services are covered, as well as know how to obtain referrals, if necessary, before seeking treatment.

Under some health insurance policies, your student would need to find a physician or hospital that is within your insurance carrier’s provider network – except for emergency care – or pay more out of pocket if a provider is outside your carrier’s network.

Students who do not have health insurance through a parent’s policy, or who have limited coverage due to provider networks or service areas, may opt to purchase a student health insurance plan through their college or university. Students also may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period that would allow them to apply for a private health insurance plan through the federally-facilitated health insurance marketplace at HealthCare.gov.

Personal property and housing

College students often take many valuable items with them to school, such as laptops, printers, mobile phones, televisions, gaming devices and bicycles. When reviewing your insurance needs, consider how much it would cost to replace everything in your student’s dorm room or apartment if a theft or disaster occurred.

For students who live in on-campus student housing, their parents’ homeowners or renters policy may cover their belongings if they are stolen or damaged. Some policies, however, may limit the amount of coverage provided. Certain items – such as jewelry or expensive electronics – may require special coverage. In the event of a loss, policy deductibles may also apply.

Students living off campus should consider renters insurance, which generally covers a tenant’s personal property as well as insures the tenant in case someone is injured on their leased premises. Landlords’ policies generally only cover the structure, not a renter’s possessions. Renters insurance premiums vary depending on the location and size of the rental unit and the value of the tenant’s possessions.

No matter where your student lives, they should have a list of their belongings. An inventory of personal property will help you and your student determine how much insurance is needed. If a loss occurs, the inventory can facilitate the claims process. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers a free smartphone app that makes creating an inventory easy.

Auto

For college students planning to take a car to school, parents should ask their insurance agent or company about coverage availability – as well as rates for the city and state where the college is located – before deciding whether to keep the student’s car on the family policy. If your student is attending college in another state, make sure you know that state’s minimum requirements for auto insurance coverage. Additionally, check with your agent or insurance company about good-student discounts on the vehicle’s insurance premiums for students who maintain good grades and any eligibility requirements.

Students whose names are on the title for a car must purchase their own auto insurance policy. However, they may be able to stay on their parents’ policy if their parents own the vehicle they will use at school. Tell your insurance agent where the vehicle will be stored if the address is different from what is on the policy.

For more information, call (877) 310-6560 or visit its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Insurance.

News Desk

Have a story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected] Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.