CONSUMER ALERT: Sending Kids Off to College? Make Sure Insurance Is On The Checklist

While you can’t pack it, the right policy can still go off to college with your child

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Allen Kerr today released the following statement encouraging Arkansas parents sending kids off to college this month to ensure they have proper coverage for the start of the school year:

“I have spent several summers sending my children off to college.  With the graduation of my youngest in May, we won’t be engaging in that ritual this summer.  While many of us have watched our children head off to college, making sure we pack everything they need is an annual challenge.”

Because it is not a physical item that gets put in a box with foam peanuts, making sure your college student has the proper insurance sometimes doesn’t make the college send-off checklist. 

The staff at the Arkansas Insurance Department, in conjunction with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), have put together the following insurance tips for both parents and college students to consider for the Fall 2015 semester:

Auto Insurance

If your student is taking a car to school, check with your local agent about the current vehicle insurance policy. Ask about the rates for the college's city and state before deciding whether to keep the student's car on the family's auto policy.

Also, make sure your insurance company is notified each semester if your student maintains good grades, which might lead to a good student discount on the vehicle’s premium.

If your student is involved in an auto crash, the new WreckCheck mobile smartphone application from the NAIC outlines what to do immediately following the crash, taking you step by step through creating an accident report. The app is free and available in your smartphone app store.

Identity Theft

With the current cybersecurity concerns, identity theft coverage is certainly a consideration. Identity theft insurance is limited, however. It can’t protect parents or students from becoming victims of identity theft, and it doesn’t cover your direct financial losses. It does give coverage for the cost of reclaiming a person’s financial identity — such as the costs of making phone calls, making copies, mailing documents, taking time off from work without pay (lost wages) and hiring an attorney.

Parents, check first to see if your homeowners policy includes identity theft insurance while the student is away from the family home. If a student is renting an apartment, ask if his/her renters insurance covers identity theft, or if that could be added to the policy.

Renters Insurance

Parents, check with your insurance agents to determine whether your family homeowners policies extend coverage to property taken to school. If not, consider a renters policy.

Your student should realize that a landlord’s insurance policy doesn’t cover a renter’s personal belongings. Also, make sure to take photos or video of the possessions, and store an inventory list in a secure location.

To print an easy-to-use home inventory checklist and get more tips about disaster preparedness, visit Smartphone users can complete an electronic property inventory by using the application from the NAIC.

Finally, before packing a student’s belongings into a car or rental vehicle, make sure to talk with your insurance agent about whether the contents are insured. Ask if your homeowners insurance policy will cover the belongings in the student's car or rental trailer before he/she gets to campus.

Health Insurance

Nearly all young adults up to age 26 can now stay on their parents’ health insurance plans because of federal health reform legislation. Marital status, financial dependency, enrollment in school, or location don’t affect that provision.

At school, students should have copies of their insurance cards and know how/where to seek medical treatment.

If the student is insured through a network of medical providers, check to see if he/she will be in or out of the network service area while at school. That will make a difference in how much you or your student will have to pay for out-of-pocket charges.

Another coverage option is a student health insurance plan purchased through the college, although not all schools offer these plans. Check with your school regarding availability, coverage and benefits for this type of plan.

Dental and Eye Care

Routine dental care and eye care generally are not included as part of a health insurance plan, although many will cover non-cosmetic dental work that is medically necessary because of an accident. Some plans may include limited coverage for dental procedures, such as the removal of wisdom teeth, if performed in a hospital. 

Also, most health insurance plans do not cover expenses related to periodic eye examinations, glasses or contact lenses, but most will cover medical care as a result of an eye disease or injury.