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What types of insurance do college students need?

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

A child is starting college can be an emotional experience. They might be moving away from home and living on their own for the first time. When your child goes to college, preparing them for financial responsibilities is important. As a parent, you might also be considering what type of insurance they might need.

Every student will need different types of insurance depending on their situation. For example, a student who needs a car to commute to campus will need auto insurance. A student who is no longer covered by their parent’s health insurance will need a policy of their own. In this article, we’ll explain what types of insurance are beneficial for college students.

Auto insurance 

Many college kids to bring a car to campus. An average of 46.8 percent of students had a car on their campus during the 2016-2017 school year. Some kids who live off-campus need to drive to class, and others want to have a car as a convenience.

If your child wants to bring a car to college, they’ll need an active auto insurance policy no matter how often they plan to drive. Assuming they already have car insurance, you’ll need to contact the insurance provider and let them know your child is moving. If they are moving out of state, their rate and the amount of coverage they need might change.

Before you allow your child to bring their car to school, have a conversation with them about alternatives. If they live close to campus, they might be able to walk or bike to class. Remind them that having a car on campus is expensive and can be risky. In addition to insurance, they might also have to pay for a parking pass from the school or city.

On the other hand, your child might decide to leave their car at home. In that case, contact their insurance provider and ask if they offer a discount for students who are away at school. Your child will need to keep their policy active, but they might qualify for a lower rate. 

Renters insurance

College students typically live in a dorm or an off-campus apartment. Either way, having insurance is essential to safeguard belongings and protect the student from certain liabilities.

If your child is living in a college dorm and you own a home, your homeowners insurance may automatically cover their belongings for free. Not all insurance providers offer this coverage, so check to see. If your policy covers items outside your home, you may need to increase your coverage limits for things like electronics. You can also purchase liability coverage as an endorsement.

If your homeowners insurance won’t cover your student’s dorm or apartment, they’ll need to purchase renters insurance. Renters insurance covers personal belongings and liabilities. For example, if your student’s apartment caught fire, their renters insurance policy would reimburse them for the cost of their damaged belongings. Renters insurance is typically inexpensive, and getting a policy is fast and easy.

To determine how much renters insurance coverage to get, estimate the value of your student’s personal belongings. Take into consideration any expensive items that might require higher coverage limits. Also, consider the town’s crime rate, and the prevalence of apartment break-ins.

Life insurance

Most college students aren’t thinking about life insurance, but if they have student loans, they should reconsider. Most private student loan companies won’t discharge their remaining debt balance if the student were to unexpectedly pass away. That means you would be financially responsible for repaying their debt.

As a parent, getting a term life insurance policy can also be valuable, even if you already have whole life insurance. A term life insurance policy can help cover your student’s education if your whole life policy doesn’t have enough coverage, and you need the income support. It’s a good idea to have enough life insurance to cover all your kids’ tuition until the youngest child has graduated.

Health Insurance

Most college-aged students are covered by their parent’s health insurance policy, assuming they are 26 or younger. However, check if your health network includes doctors and hospitals where your child goes to school.

If you have a PPO policy, your child would have to pay a higher fee for services if they live outside of the main network. With an HMO policy, your child may not be covered at all outside of the network, with the exception of emergency care.

However, many colleges offer student health insurance plans for this reason. Look into the school’s health plan to see what is covered, what the coverage limits are and what the deductible is. If your child’s school has a health center on campus, the school health plan will likely cover basic medical services and checkups.

If your health insurance plan doesn’t cover your child at school, they will be eligible to purchase coverage from the state. Students can enroll in a government-sponsored health insurance plan at any time. They don’t have to wait until the state’s designated open enrollment period. Depending on the state, your child will also be able to purchase dental and eye insurance through the state marketplace.

The takeaway

  • All college students should have some insurance coverage while they’re at school.
  • Depending on their situation, a student may need auto, renters, life and health insurance policies.
  • As a parent, check with your own insurance company to see if any of your policies will cover your child at school for free.

Before your child starts college, ensure they have proper insurance coverage. For instance, students with a car on campus will need auto insurance, and students living in an off-campus apartment will need renters insurance. Life insurance can also be beneficial, especially if your student has loans. Lastly, check to see if your health insurance plan will cover your child while they’re at school. If not, help them enroll in a state-sponsored health plan, or look into their college’s student health insurance.

Elizabeth Rivelli

Elizabeth is an insurance writer for coverage.com, where she covers insurance providers and reviews policies to help consumers find comprehensive and affordable coverage for every area of their life. She has more than three years of writing experience for top online insurance and finance publications.

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