University of Virginia

Insurance and College Students

Many parents associate their kids going to college with things like buying sheets and finding boxes and whether or not they need a small refrigerator.  Those are important for sure, but there is something else to put on your checklist, and that is insurance.  How will your teenager going to college affect your different insurance coverages?


First, let’s look at possessions or personal property.  Will your homeowners policy cover your student’s possessions at school if there is a loss, like a theft or a fire?  Does it matter if they live in on-campus housing or not?  Is there a limit on the amount of coverage for your son or daughter?  Most policies do cover a college student’s possessions but the only sure way is to check with your insurer.  If you are not covered, you want to find out about a renters insurance policy which will then provide coverage.


Next, car insurance.  If your son or daughter is on your automobile insurance now, moving to college can save you money.  Many insurers will reduce premiums if your previously driving teen does not have access to one of your vehicles because they are so far from home.  The details on these situations vary widely-some companies have certain distance limits for example, so you’ll want to find out what the specifics are in your case.  Also, if your student is taking a car with them, you’ll want to let the insurance company know that too.  The coverage may need to be adjusted for the new state’s requirements.


One study showed that half of all parents failed to make adjustments to their auto policies when their kids went to college.  The lost savings can add up to $3,000 over four years.


Finally, let’s look at health insurance.  You do want your son or daughter to be covered with health insurance while at school.  Start with the existing policy and be sure that it will “go with” your teenager to their new home.  Check specifically for in-network vs. out-of-network care.   If you need to find new coverage, many colleges offer student health plans that are seemingly affordable, but you want to look at the coverage details closely.  Are there low caps on claims? What items are excluded?  It might help to have a conversation with the staff at the college’s medical facility to find out what other students do and what works well in that geographic area.  One choice where there is no other coverage is to buy a high-deductible policy for your teenager.  You’ll end up paying for most care that is needed since the deductible is high, but the policy will provide coverage for very expensive care, should that be necessary.


The common theme with insurance matters is to get on the phone to your agent or insurance company and talk over your situation with them.  Know what coverage you have and what changes you might need to make, and in the event of a claim, you’ll be glad you did.