Tips for on- and off-campus living that might save you money
In the next few weeks, hundreds of thousands of students will head off to college. If your child is one of them, you’ve got a lot on your mind. Whether your child is starting freshman year in a dorm, or is a returning upper-classman moving off campus, you’re busy helping them shop and pack so they have what they need to succeed.
Have you considered their insurance needs? When children leave home, even temporarily, you should contact your insurance agent. Your current policies may need some updating, and that’s not always bad news. You might need additional insurance, but you could qualify for a discount.
Home away from home
Wondering if your homeowners policy will extend to your college-bound child? Here are some general guidelines:
- Campus housing: Many homeowners policies consider a dorm room as an extension of your home, so items your child keeps there may be covered to some extent. However, if your child has expensive electronic equipment or furniture, you may want to consider purchasing additional coverage.
- Off-campus housing: If your child has moved off-campus, his or her possessions may not be covered by your homeowners policy. Consider renter’s insurance, which costs as little as $15 per month. Renter’s insurance will cover possessions in your child’s off-campus apartment or house and also provides liability coverage if anyone is injured in the residence.
- Computers and smartphones: Consider buying stand-alone insurance or protection plans at the time of purchase. If you pay with a credit card, check to see what built-in protections might be available.
Time for a check-up
In most cases, students can stay on their parents’ health plans up to age 26. However, depending on your particular policy and the state you live in, there may be restrictions. It’s best to check with your health insurer, especially if any of the following situations apply to your child:
- Attending school out-of-state, where they are unable to see their regular doctor.
- Playing a sport for the collegiate team.
- Planning to study abroad (click here for info on travel insurance plans)
If you find your child doesn’t have coverage under your plan, you have a few options. Most colleges have their own health plans, but some policies have high deductibles and low coverage maximums. A few don’t offer any coverage for conditions present before entering the school, so be sure to examine plans carefully. Otherwise, you may want to consider an individual policy for your child.
As a high school student, chances are your teen drove often—and your insurance premiums reflected that. But when your teen leaves home, your auto insurance needs may change. Regardless of where your child is going to school, you should notify your insurance agent.
- If your child is moving away from home and not keeping a car on campus, your auto insurance premium may qualify for a discount.
- If a car you are currently insuring will be going to campus with your student, the policy rate could be subject to change.
- If your child is taking a car to an out-of-state school, it’s especially important to make sure your current policy will cover it.
- Students that maintain a high GPA may be eligible for a good-student discount. Most insurance companies will require you to send in a copy of the grade report each semester. Check with your agent for further details.
Study up on safety
Approximately 50% of on-campus crimes are burglaries. And being insured isn’t much consolation when your child’s laptop or other important possessions are stolen. It’s best to take extra precautions, and remind your student to follow these safety tips:
- Leave valuables at home, if possible. Expensive jewelry, fancy speakers and electronics, and high-end bikes are best left at home. If your child must have them, consider purchasing a special floater or endorsement to your homeowners policy to cover them.
- Take inventory. Just as you do for your home, your student should make a detailed list of everything he or she takes to school. (You do have a home inventory, right?) Photos and video are also helpful.
- Keep dorm rooms locked at all times. It only takes a few minutes for a thief to case a dorm room. Remind students to never let people they don’t know into the dormitory building.
- Don’t leave belongings unattended. Laptops are especially vulnerable. Invest in a security cable to thwart thieves. If you student keeps a bike on campus, make sure to buy a heavy-duty lock.
- Consider buying or borrowing an engraving tool. Having a name or other identifying marks on valuables can help police track them if they are stolen.
Sending a child to college is one of life’s biggest steps, and it’s important to be prepared. Before you finish packing those boxes, contact your General Southwest advisor for a review of your current homeowners and auto policies. We can’t promise it will make saying goodbye any easier, but it will give you peace-of-mind. And possibly save you some money, too!
Tips courtesy of Zywave, Inc. and iii.org.