Summer seems to come and go in the blink of an eye, and this year is no different. With the return to school fast approaching, many families are preparing for their graduated children to head off to university either for the first time or to finish their in-progress degree. Some students will be living in dorms while others transition to their first off-campus living spaces, and many take one of the family vehicles with them for ease of transportation to and from school. So how are all of these things covered while your child is away from home at college? Let’s take a look at some common concerns and see how your insurance can protect your hardworking students.
My child is taking one of our cars to college. Do they need their own policy?
It’s very exciting for young adults to have the freedom and privilege of their own vehicle while at college. It makes it much easier for them to navigate to and from school and other activities, and opens up the option for them to pursue part-time employment or internship opportunities. The key with covering your child and the vehicle while they are at school is that their permanent address is still your address. Auto insurance largely operates on a household basis, meaning anyone living in the sharing the same residence address should be on the same insurance policy. While there are certainly exceptions to this rule, individuals living together should be insured together. Your child is able to stay on your insurance policy as a driver while away at school as long as they have not obtained a new permanent address.
Some insurance carriers will factor in this particular driver and vehicle and base the cost on their limited access. Every drive on an auto policy is rated for every vehicle since they technically all have access to the insured cars. However, a child away at college only has access to one vehicle on the policy, so sometimes you can save on your insurance costs by advising your insurance company that you have a driver and vehicle that is off your residential property.
It is worth noting that you are by no means required to keep your child on your insurance policy once they move away to college. They are welcome to obtain their own insurance coverage separate from you for their own vehicle. Insurance companies do require every person living permanently in the household to be covered on the same policy, so just keep in mind the residence status of your child to make sure you don’t face potential gaps in coverage or exclusions that could affect your policy. A simple way to look at it is that if they come home every summer, they should be on your auto insurance policy.
My child goes to college nearby and often comes home on the weekends and for holidays. Do they still need to be on my policy?
If your child still shares their permanent residence address with you, then yes, they need to remain on your policy. This is especially important for situations where your child lives close by and is home frequently since they may have access to your other vehicles. Even if they don’t typically use these other cars, it is very important to keep them listed on your insurance policy because of household driver exclusions. If you have someone living with you that is not on your policy and uses one of your cars, the accident may or may not be covered and your auto insurance could potentially be nonrenewed for withholding information. If there is an emergency where your child has to drive one of your cars to the hospital or a neighboring house, you never want to risk having no coverage. It is always the best bet to keep your child on your auto insurance, even if they don’t drive your vehicle regularly when they come home.
My child is living in a dorm on campus. Are their belongings covered?
On a homeowners or renters insurance policy, all listed household members are covered as well as their respective items. It is important to note that you need to make sure you choose a personal property limit that is high enough to cover everyone since this is not line-itemed for each individual person living in your household. Additionally, your belongings are covered anywhere in the world, such as during travel, at timeshares, and yes, on-campus while attending college. In short, your child’s personal belongings such as clothes, furniture, books, and electronics can still be covered under your home or renters insurance policy while they are living away from home.
The same goes for liability related to any household members. Your home or renters insurance comes with general liability coverage, which protects you and your family in the event they cause harm or damage to others. These incidents do not have to happen solely on your property to be covered and can happen away from your home. This means that if your child accidentally hurts someone because of carelessly placed science projects, or they accidentally break a neighbor’s windows from playing frisbee outside, your liability coverage can extend to them and cover any associated costs or legal expenses. The key here is accidental, so if your child gets caught up in any purposefully harmful or damaging behaviors, you will unfortunately be on the hook out of your own pocket. Make sure to encourage your children to be safe, mindful, and responsible while away at college and to focus on their studies over partying, which often is more trouble than it’s worth!
My child is renting their own apartment while at college. Does my insurance still extend to them?
If your child has their own address, they technically should have their own insurance policy for their stuff. However, a second non-permanent address can still potentially fall under your existing homeowners insurance policy. This largely depends on the type of home insurance policy you have and the insurance carrier you choose, so it is wise to double-check this coverage to make sure you don’t have any gaps. If you are a renter, your child will need to obtain their own renters insurance while living off-campus and away at school since renters insurance often does not include any secondary locations.
There are many considerations and concerns for parents as their children embark on the next phase of their educational journey. Our personal lines insurance agents are here to help answer any questions you have about you and your child’s situation while they attend college so we can make sure your family is properly protected along the way. Talk to us today to make sure your policy is set up to cover your child when they head to college!
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