At the end of every summer, many parents are packing up their recent high school graduate and sending them to college. This is the start of many big life changes for everyone, which can also bring a lot of stress and questions.
As a parent, you’re probably not thinking about insurance in that moment. It’s important to consider what coverage your kid will have when they go off to college.
Are they covered under your homeowners policy?
Many homeowners policies provide coverage for your college student while they are away at school. If they’re living in a dorm, your home policy might cover their personal liability and personal property.
Carriers can vary in how much personal property extends while away at school or away from home. The average for property covered away from the home is 10% of the personal property limit.
If your child decides to rent an off-campus apartment, they might need a renters policy. Even if their personal property isn’t worth much, they still need renters insurance for the liability coverage.
College students don’t always make good choices. If your kid throws a party, they are at risk of a lawsuit. Someone could get hurt and sue. Or a guest could drive drunk and injure someone, leaving your child responsible because they served the alcohol.
Liability coverage offers legal protection from those types of situations. A renters policy can help protect the future your child is building.
What about their auto insurance?
Auto insurance is pretty specific about who can and cannot be a driver on a policy. Most insurance carriers only allow “household members” to be drivers on a policy. While your child may not be living in your home daily, most insurance carriers consider college students a “household member.”
As long as your child is in school, you should be able to insure them on your auto policy with most insurance providers. Once they have graduated and have their own permanent residence, they’ll need to get their own auto policy.
While they’re still on your policy they may be able to qualify for a few discounts, like Good Student and Distant Student.
Most insurance carriers offer the Good Student discount if your student maintains a B average (3.0 GPA) or higher. You may need to provide a report card showing their grades each policy term to keep that discount.
The Distant Student discount can vary, it’s usually available for a student that is attending college more than 100 miles away from home. Most carriers specify that they can’t have a vehicle at school with them. Some insurance companies will provide the discount if they have a vehicle, but it’s more common to see the “without a vehicle” stipulation.
Dorm Do’s and Don’ts for your college student
Over the next few weeks, your child may be getting a taste for living on their own for the first time. That can be scary to think about as a parent. Below are some safety tips to share with college students to help keep them and their belongings safe during the school year.
DO keep your dorm room door locked at all times.
Many kids will keep their doors unlocked when visiting a friend a few rooms away, thinking that no one will enter their room if they’re only gone for a few minutes. This can’t be further from the truth.
Many electronics are small and portable and can be stolen in 30 seconds if left unattended. Whether you’re making a quick trip to the restroom or hanging out in the room next door, keep your door locked.
DON’T leave candles/incense unattended.
Candles and incense are big on college campuses. Small rooms crammed with at least two people can smell a little funky, so many students use these items to help freshen up the air.
Leaving these unattended while lit can be a huge fire hazard. The flame is not the only issue with candles and incense. The heat from the candle and the ash from the incense are enough to start a fire.
DO remove dryer lint from lint trap before running dryer.
Many students are used to Mom and Dad doing their laundry. Living at college is their first real experience with washing and drying their clothes regularly.
Dryer fires are common on college campuses because many students don’t clean the lint trap in the dryer and dispose of the lint properly. Dryer lint is like kindling and can catch fire from the heat put off by the dryer. Be sure to clean the lint trap before turning on the dryer every time you use it.
DO plug electronics into surge protectors and frequently save all work.
There is nothing worse than being up until 2:00 a.m. finishing a 20-page paper only to have your computer shut down or short out before you’ve saved your work. Surge protectors will help keep your electronics from being fried due to an overload from your neighbor’s hair dryer. Saving your work frequently will help prevent a late-night meltdown if you encounter computer issues.
DON’T post when you will be away on Facebook or other social media sites.
In today’s social media-crazed society, many people think nothing of posting their plans, even when it means they will be away from their home for a weekend or longer. If you post that you’re going home for the weekend, this may give someone who sees that post an opportunity to break into your room and rob you blind.
Posting on social media is not like telling your friends your plans. It’s more akin to posting your plans in the newspaper.
Some of these tips may seem like common sense, but they are all derived from actual incidents. Many people have that old “it won’t happen to me” mentality. But these situations can and do happen, so it doesn’t hurt to have a quick conversation with your college student.