Saturday, June 2, 2007

Kids Off to College? Make Sure They're Protected

Sending your kids off to college can be hard. All along, you've shielded them from injury and danger, but now they're on their own. Fortunately, you can still help protect them by making sure that they have the appropriate coverage.

Health insurance coverage is a must

Health insurance coverage is just as important for your college-bound child as it was when he or she lived at home. Accidents, illnesses, unexpected emergencies, and routine conditions may require expensive medical treatment. Many colleges even require health insurance coverage as a condition of enrollment.

In most cases, you can continue to insure your child under your own family health insurance plan. Most plans will continue to cover full-time students who meet the age requirements of the policy (e.g. under age 21 or 24). If your plan is a health maintenance organization with coverage restricted to local doctors and hospitals, you may need a separate plan for your child if he or she is going out of state. You may be able to buy an individual policy from a private insurance company.

Another option is to buy health insurance directly from your child's college (if offered). Since plans vary, pay close attention to cost and coverage provided. When reviewing a plan, consider the following:
  • Amount of deductible and co-payment
  • Extent of coverage
  • Types of services covered
  • Exclusions and limitations, especially if there are pre-existing conditions
  • Maximum benefit amount provided
  • Flexibility regarding choice of health-care providers and specialists

Make sure that your child is covered by auto insurance, both at home and away

When your child goes off to college, it's time to review your auto insurance coverage. Your insurance agent can tell you how your coverage and premiums will be affected.

For instance, if your child owns a car and is taking it to school, your insurance company may require that the auto insurance policy be issued in your child's name. Or, if your child borrows one of your cars for school, you'll probably want to list him or her on your insurance policy as either a principal driver or an occasional driver.

What if your child isn't taking a car to college? If you expect him or her to use your car during school breaks and summer vacations, it may be wise to list your child on your policy. But if your child won't be using the car regularly, ask your insurance agent if you're eligible for a premium discount.

Protect your child's possessions at college with homeowners or renters insurance

Like many college students, your child may be bringing a personal computer and printer, stereo, and other personal items to school. If your child commutes or lives in a dormitory (or other college housing), your homeowners insurance should provide a certain amount of protection for his or her personal possessions. But if your child lives off-campus, you'll need to purchase a renters insurance policy to cover his or her belongings. A renters policy may also provide liability coverage if your child injures someone or causes property damage. Your insurance agent can help you determine the amount and type of coverage you need.



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