Beyond scouring the dorm décor section of Target and conducting “Laundry 101” classes, there is still one important piece of business to take care of before dropping your kid off at college: reviewing your home and auto insurance policies.
When it comes to property and liability coverage extended from your homeowner or renter’s insurance policy, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first thing to think about is where your child will be living. Is it on campus in a dorm or off-campus in an apartment or house? It is also important to consider how long they will be living there. Will they be there for fall and spring semesters only, or all year long? If they are living in an apartment, discuss who is on the lease. Whether your child is signing alone or if you will be co-signing, it is important to clarify who is responsible for obtaining the insurance.
Another important factor to consider is the age of your child. Some homeowner insurance policy contracts may highlight an age in the definition of a “household resident.” If your child is above a certain age, they may no longer be considered to be a resident of your household. This may leave gaps in coverage if they do not have their own policy.
As your child heads off to school, consider whether or not they will be taking a car with them. While bringing a car to school might make it easier for them to make a few more appearances at home, you should be aware of what physical damage and liability coverages are afforded through an auto policy. If your child is bringing a car to school, is the car listed on your auto policy or do they have their own? Maybe the car is not insured on your policy but is on someone else’s. Either way, review the policy to determine who is liable if anything were to happen.
Remember when we mentioned the importance of the “resident of household” definition within your homeowner insurance policy? The same goes for auto insurance. Even while away at school, if your child qualifies as a household resident as defined by your auto policy contract, they may be afforded important coverages from that policy. And vice versa – if they do not meet the criteria of being a household resident, they may have a gap in coverage.
Talk to an agent first
Before you pull up to that residence hall or apartment and begin unloading the U-Haul, contact your local agent and ask to review your policy. As a licensed agent and insurance advisor, they will consider your child’s specific situation and help you determine if there are any gaps in the coverage when your child leaves home. From there, your agent will provide you with options to ensure their safety – and allow you to relax!