Q: My child is heading off to college this fall. What insurance issues does this raise?
As you send your children off to college, you probably have a lot of things on your mind - whether they'll eat right and get enough sleep, how to pay the tuition bills, what to do with that empty bedroom, etc. For most people, insurance concerns are pretty low on the priority list. But there are some important issues you should consider.
Issue #1: Health insurance - make sure your child is covered.
Your medical plan probably covers your children until they're somewhere between 20 and 24 years of age, regardless of whether or not they live at home. But if the plan is an HMO and your child's college is far from home, accessing an approved provider may prove difficult. As an alternative, consider purchasing health insurance coverage through your child's college. Many colleges and universities offer low-cost health insurance for students. Cost and level of coverage vary greatly from one school to the next, but school-subsidized health insurance is often less expensive than continuing coverage through your existing health plan. And since health care is typically provided on-campus, it may be easier for the student to access.
Issue #2: Homeowner's/Renters insurance - make sure your child's possessions are covered.
If your child lives in a dorm or other university housing, their personal property is typically covered under your homeowners insurance policy. Check your policy for coverage limitations on computers and stereos, if your child can't live without these. Once a student moves out of the dorms and into an apartment, they are usually no longer covered under your policy. Off-campus students should purchase a renters insurance policy to cover their possessions.
Issue #3: Auto insurance - make sure the car is covered.
If your child will be taking a car to school, make sure the car is properly insured. If the child owns the car, then the insurance policy must be in the child's name as well. If the child is "borrowing" a car from Mom and Dad, the child must be listed on the insurance policy. Some insurance companies may require the child to be listed as the primary operator, since the car is in the child's possession and not the parents'.