College Bound: Insuring Students and Their Possessions

Sending a student off to college can be hectic and emotional — and insurance might not be at the top of the to-do list. But every college student has insurance needs that should be addressed.

Here are four types of coverage to consider.

Health Insurance

Health-care policies vary among schools, so be sure you understand the specific requirements and available options. Most schools offer a group health insurance plan, and some require coverage as a condition of attendance.

The most cost-effective solution may be to keep your student on your family policy. (Young adults can typically stay on their parents' health insurance policies up to age 26.) Medical care at campus facilities is often provided at relatively low cost to students, but you may want to check whether campus facilities and doctors are participating providers in your network.

Auto Insurance

If your student takes a car to school, it is typically less expensive to include the vehicle on your own policy than to purchase separate coverage. However, you should report the new location to your insurance company; your premium may go up or down depending on the location.

If your student will not take a car to school and the campus is more than 100 miles from home, he or she may qualify for a resident student discount on your policy. This would allow the student to drive your family vehicles when visiting home on vacations or weekends and may extend through the summer. Keeping those grades up can help, too — good student discounts don't end with high school!

Personal Property Insurance

If your undergraduate lives in a dorm, your homeowners insurance may cover personal property, up to a stated percentage of your total coverage (typically 10%). Check your policy and compare any coverage limits on dorm-room protection with the total value of the items your student intends to take. You might consider purchasing a separate student policy that offers more specific coverage in dorms and on campus, often with low deductibles.

Renters Insurance

If your student lives in an off-campus apartment, your homeowners policy will generally not provide coverage, so it would be wise to consider renters insurance. Be sure to ask your insurance agent about the specific coverage in your policy as it applies to your student's living situation.