College is expensive enough as it is; can you imagine finding out too late that an accident or theft isn’t covered under your current insurance policies? In order to prevent this from happening, there’s one vital “to-do” to add to your list (other than writing that dreaded tuition check) as you prepare to send your child/children off to school this fall: a review of your insurance coverage.

Although policy language varies from one state to the next and there are never “one-size-fits-all” situations, use the following general guide to understand how your child’s move back to school may affect your insurance coverage:

Homeowners Insurance Considerations

  • back to school insurance tipsPersonal property coverage: Most homeowners policies provide 10 percent of personal property coverage for property owned by an insured that is at a residence other than the insured’s.  For instance, if you have $100,000 worth of personal property coverage, your homeowners insurance policy will typically provide up to $10,000 worth of coverage for your student’s property if he/she is living in a dormitory – provided that the damage is caused by a covered peril and the student meets the definition of an insured. Certain items like jewelry or expensive electronics may require special coverage, or a “rider.”
  • Liability coverage: Homeowners insurance policies typically exclude damage to property rented to an insured, so in most cases, damage to a dorm room or apartment would not be covered.
  • Renters insurance: If your student rents an off-campus home, your policy may not provide coverage for his/her property, so don’t forget about renters insurance. It’s important to understand that landlords’ policies generally only cover the structure, not the renters’ possessions.
  • Ensuring adequate coverage:  It’s a great idea to keep an inventory of the items your student is taking to school, along with photos and receipts when possible, to ensure that you have sufficient coverage for all of his/her belongings.

Auto Insurance Implications

  • Coverage without a car at school: If your student will continue to drive while at home on school breaks, you should keep him/her listed on your auto policy. Fortunately, if your child is attending school far away from your home, such as 100 miles away, you may qualify for a distant student discount.
  • Coverage with a car at school: Typically, a car registered to parents and listed on their policy will be covered if used by a listed student away at school. However, you should make sure that your insurance carrier writes coverage where the college is located, and understand that a change in the vehicle’s principal location could result in a change in premium.
  • Driving a friend’s car at school: Students will generally be covered while driving a friend’s car if the students are listed on their parents’ auto policy and do not have regular use of the vehicle.
  • Coverage discounts: In addition to the aforementioned distant student discount, your student may qualify for a good student discount. To qualify for this discount, most insurance carriers require that the student be enrolled in at least four courses per term as a full-time student at an accredited college or university, and meet certain academic qualifications. Drivers under the age of 21 who complete a driver education course may be eligible for an auto insurance discount as well.

Going away to school is an exciting time for both students and their parents, and ensuring that you’ve got the right insurance coverage can help you protect your assets as you invest in your child’s future. At Knapton, Reade & Woods Insurance Agency, we understand that everyone’s situation is different, and as independent agents, we’ll take the time to review your coverage and discuss the specific options available to you — give us a call today at 800-779-4084 or click here to contact us online!

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