TRENTON, N.J.—As college students and their families begin the school year, insurance considerations should be at the top of their college checklist, says the Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey. The trade association that represents agents across the state reminds students and their parents to contact their insurance agent to verify the specifics of their policies and educate themselves about any coverage limitations.
“Check your homeowners policy to see if the items your child is taking to college are covered in case they are damaged or stolen,” says Donald J. LaPenna, Jr., president of PIANJ. “You may need to purchase additional coverage for your child’s possessions, depending on where your child will live at college. Prepare and maintain a list of possessions such as computers, televisions, stereos, cameras and jewelry, including the original cost and their purchase date. If the value of these items exceeds the off-premises coverage limit of your homeowners policy, you may want to purchase additional coverage.”
Students living on campus may be protected by their parents’ homeowners policy, as long as the student maintains residency in the parents’ household. Some insurers expressly define what “residency” means in their policy, but many insurers leave room for interpretation. Before a claim occurs, parents should find out what criteria their insurer uses to determine whether their student is still a resident of your household.
College students renting an off-campus apartment or house while away at school should consider purchasing a renters policy. In order to get the best protection, choosing a scheduled coverage option often makes sense for high-value possessions, such as computers, musical instruments and jewelry.
Auto insurance is another consideration for college-bound kids. If a student is attending school more than 100 miles from home without custody of a household vehicle, policyholders may be eligible for a reduction in your auto insurance premiums. If they have custody of a vehicle at school, then the insurer may want to rate the insurance based upon where the vehicle is garaged. And, don’t forget to instruct students on what to do in case of an accident and make sure they know where the important documents (i.e., insurance card and vehicle registration) can be found, suggests PIANJ.
Finally, if your child is already on your health plan, he or she can remain on it. The Affordable Care Act allows young people to stay on their parents' health insurance. This Act requires insurers to offer coverage to children on their parents plan and make the coverage available till they reach 26 years old. Parents no longer need to worry if their children will have health insurance once they graduate from college or move away from home. If not, your student’s school may offer coverage.
“It’s a good idea to contact your professional, independent insurance agent whenever a major life change occurs,” says LaPenna. “College is one of them. Parents and students should be fully aware of the options available to them.”
PIANJ is a trade association representing professional, independent insurance agencies, brokerages and their employees throughout the state.