My son or daughter is a college student away at school. What kind of insurance will cover them?
Updated: Apr 8
Congratulations! Your kid is moving out to go to college or is already away at school. You may be nervous about your child’s welfare. Are they eating well? Getting enough sleep? Keeping their grades up? Staying safe?
You’ve taught your child lessons over the years about staying safe and you trust them to make good decisions, but bad things can still happen. One way to limit the damage from that call in the night is to make sure your child has the right insurance.
INSURANCE FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS
Here are some of the most common types of insurance that may help protect college students:
You should have options here. If your child is on your health insurance policy, you can usually keep them on it until they turn 26. That’s true even if they don’t live at home when they aren’t at school. Their college likely offers a student health plan as well. It makes sense to compare the two in terms of cost and services covered. You should also check in network vs out of network services, especially if you child is at school out of state.
Does your homeowners policy cover your student away at school? You’ll have to read your policy to be sure. Insurance companies’ policies vary a bit. Overall, though, the answer is “sort of.”
Homeowners policies include several coverages. Coverage for belongings and for personal liability are usually most important for college students.
Personal liability covers damage or injuries your child is responsible for, except for car crashes. For example, this could include damaging college property by accident. Your homeowners policy probably covers your son or daughter if:
They are a full-time student
Live in on campus, and
Are under a certain age
However, your policy probably offers limited coverage for your college kid’s stuff in their dorm room or apartment. In fact, the limits may be as little as $1000. So, if their laptop is stolen, they may be out of luck. And if they live off campus or withdraw from a class and fall below full-time student status, they may have no coverage at all.
A renters policy in your student’s name is the fix for this. It’ll cost about $10 a month. It should cover your son or daughter’s stuff anywhere in the world, including in off campus housing. Student status has no impact on the coverage.
If your student has a car and takes it to school, check with your insurance agent to update the address where the car is parked. Your agent will also be able to tell you if your child needs their own policy.
Be cautious about removing your child from your policy. First, if they ever drive your car when they are home, they will likely not be covered. Second, if they ever drive a borrowed or rented car, they’ll have no coverage. Do you want to count on their college friend having enough insurance when your kid borrows their car? Insurance does follow the vehicle, but if there’s no insurance, or not enough, the driver who is responsible for a crash can be sued for injuries or damage. Consider a non-owned auto policy for your own peace of mind.
If your child travels with friends, or chooses to study abroad, you’ll want a travel policy for them. Travel policies usually offer several coverages. Trip cancellation covers your child if something prevents them from going on the trip. Make sure you understand exactly what is covered, though. Are there specific covered reasons (like hospitalization)? And is COVID-19 covered? Trip delay is also important. If a connecting flight is cancelled, for example, this coverage pays for accommodations or rerouting. Finally, a travel policy should cover medical treatment and evacuation. Offerings vary, and you’ll want to check what your student’s health insurance covers too inside the US and abroad. And, depending on where in the world your student is going, you may want to make sure they have medical evacuation coverage.
Colleges may give a partial refund if a student withdraws early in the semester. However, few will refund your money as the semester goes on. Tuition insurance pays if your son or daughter can’t finish the semester. It usually covers specific reasons for withdrawal, like serious physical or mental health issues.
Many students have a side gig. While they may be doing graphic design from their dorm room, they are taking on many of the same risks as much larger businesses. You may want to consider professional liability for them. This will cover them if they can’t finish a contract or make a mistake in their work and their clients sues them. General liability may also make sense. This is especially true if they sell physical products or have customers come to their room or apartment. Business insurance needs vary based on the type of business and size. It’s best to talk to your insurance agent to see what your student might need.
Doxing, cyberstalking, identity theft, theft of data – these are all modern scourges that college students face. And should any of these happen, the time and cost to set everything right can be surprisingly large. A personal cyber policy is an inexpensive solution that will pay out if any of these happen to your student.
College can be a time of carefree learning and friendship, but it can also be a time to learn some hard life lessons. Insurance can help blunt the edge of some of these life lessons. We’ve run through some general suggestions based on common life situations for college students and families, but every college student’s needs are unique. Talk to your insurance agent for information specific to your family.