Saturday, June 19, 2010

If Your Child Is Headed Off to College, Don’t Pay for Insurance Twice

[Excerpted from Sending Your Child to College: The Prepared Parent’s Operational Manual by Marie Pinak Carr and her daughters: Katharine Carr, Ann Carr & Elizabeth Carr]

There are three insurance policies that you need to check and verify the coverage on before your child heads off to college.

Health Insurance

It is extremely important that you verify that your insurance will cover medical care away from your home area and in the state that your child will be living as a student. Many out-of-area insurance companies restrict the services they will pay for away from home. It is best to inquire and ask specifically what services are covered by your insurance company prior to your child leaving for school.

Ask for a separate insurance card in the child’s name or letter stating that the child has coverage. Insurance cards should be considered as valuable as a credit card and any loss needs to be reported immediately. Monitor and look over your health insurance statements verifying their accuracy.

Many colleges and universities include a health insurance charge as part of a tuition bill. Opt out or you might be paying for insurance twice.

Car Insurance

If your child is taking a car to campus, you will want to check your auto insurance policy. Since the car will be in a new location for at least eight months of the year, this might make a difference in your premiums.

It is important that the company be notified of the new address where the car will be kept. Also inquire about “Good Student” auto-policy discounts for your child.

Homeowner’s Insurance

Plan to review your homeowner’s insurance policy and its coverage with your insurance agent to ensure that your child will be properly covered while away at college. Inquire if your policy will cover damages and losses due to water, fire, smoke, theft, mold or mechanical breakdown. Make sure there is coverage for your child’s computer, camera or other valuables if it is left somewhere on campus or stolen from a car.

If your child lives in a dorm or commutes, your homeowner’s policy should cover their possessions. Computers, cameras and other expensive items often require an additional personal article rider or floater. If your child has moved off campus, the coverage will cease and you will need to purchase renter’s insurance.

Renter’s Insurance

There are many companies (that you can find on the Internet) that offer insurance to cover your child’s possessions while away from home. Usually the landlord’s insurance will not cover the replacement value of your child’s possessions should the property that your child is renting suffer from smoke, water or fire damage. It is expected that those damages would be protected and covered by a separate policy held by the renter, or in this case your child. These policies are affordable and the rate depends usually on the value of the possessions, the locations and the size of the rental unit.

Personal Property Inventory

If there is a problem, you will need to file an insurance claim. Before you pack those items to go to college, it’s a good idea to take an inventory along with photographs or a video of the higher ticket items. Keep the purchase and warranty receipts and proof of purchases.

As items get added during the year, make sure to keep this inventory list (& your insurance) up-to-date.

[Reprinted with permission from Sending Your Child to College: The Prepared Parent’s Operational Manual.]

About the Author

Marie Carr is a graduate of Syracuse University and has worked with her daughters over the past six years, first on the college admissions process, and then on getting to know the ropes of college and all of the challenges that students and families face during this important life transition.

She is a former Emory University parent council member and is currently a member of parent councils at Texas A& M University and Boston University. Learn more about Marie at


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