What Parents Should Know About Insurance For College Students

** ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY FEB. 6 ** Bowling Green State University School Health Director Dr. Glenn Egelman, right, speaks with his patient Ryan Patton, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2005, at the student health center on campus in Bowling Green, Ohio. Some universities are requiring that students have health insurance before they are admitted into college. And if they don't, they must buy into the school's student health care plan or obtain their own insurance. Colleges are finding that students without insurance often ignore preventive care or pile up such big medical bills after an illness or accident that they are forced to dropout. (AP Photo/J.D. Pooley) ORG XMIT: CD502

About 20 million American students head off to college each fall. These days, typical families struggle to help their children pay for housing and tuition. It’s a good idea to make sure that parent’s insurance policies provide adequate coverage for teens and young adults who plan to live away from home in a dorm or apartment. It’s not a good time to risk that investment in an education because nobody thought about the student’s insurance needs.

The Student’s Belongings

The parent’s homeowners insurance policy might still cover a student’s belongings as long as he or she is younger than 24. It’s most important to pay attention to coverage limits. College students tend to keep a lot of expensive things in their dorms and apartments. These include computers and other electronics, college textbooks, school supplies, and clothes.

If the maximum coverage that a policy provides is fairly low or the deductible is high, it might be a good idea to purchase the student a renters insurance policy. These are usually pretty cheap for the coverage that they provide. They may also include relocation assistance to help with expenses in case the student has to move out because of covered damages.

Student Car Insurance

Major insurers still let parents bundle their college student’s car insurance in with their own policy. However, it’s wise to let the insurer know that the student will be living away from home because of school. Also, if the young driver doesn’t take the car that he or she was driving in high school, an auto insurance company may offer a price break.

In addition, most insurers offer discounts for college students who maintain at least a B average in their classes. Most parents of college students are eager to learn about any price breaks that can help ease the strain on their budgets.

Student Health Insurance

Insurers let teenagers and young adults stay on their parent’s health insurance policies. The biggest issue is for families who have insurance that relies upon local provider networks. If the student leaves town, he or she might need to visit an out-of-network provider. Separate policies for young adults are usually fairly inexpensive, and some colleges also offer health insurance for students. Depending upon the parent’s health plan, this might be something to think about. HMO plans may only cover emergencies outside of the network. PPO plans may cover out-of-network charges, but they won’t cover them as well.

Who Can Help With Insurance for College Students?

If the impact of having a student leave for college isn’t clear, a good insurance agent should be pleased to help. It’s a good idea to have a chat with an agent to make sure that students are covered correctly before they leave for school. In any cases, it’s better to take care of this task before the student needs to make a claim.