As college students around New Hampshire get ready to leave for school, there are many things they need to remember to bring: a laptop, microwave, Ramen Noodles, and shower shoes. However, many students and their parents may not be considering what insurance a college student needs. Before sending your student off to college, make sure you know the answers to these 6 important questions:
1. Is my son or daughter's "stuff" covered while away at college?
It can depend on where they live. A NH homeowners policy may cover your child’s property if they are living in a dorm, but if they live in an off-campus apartment, including a fraternity or sorority house, your homeowners policy will likely not extend to them. Why? Once a student opts for off-campus housing, they are essentially establishing their own residence and will need their own renters insurance to cover their property in case of fire, theft, or other damage.
It is also a good idea for a college student who lives off-campus to consider their own renters insurance for the liability coverage automatically included in the policy. Liability Coverage can protect your son or daughter if a claim is made or suit is brought against them because of bodily injury or property damage caused by an occurrence as defined by the policy.
Coverage can also be added on your own home insurance or a rental policy for personal injury which would extend to accusations of libel, slander and defamation of character. Not a bad coverage to have in today’s social media society, but keep in mind that intentional acts of harm would most likely not be covered.
2. Are their laptops, phones, and other electronics covered?
Though it may not be worth insuring the duck-taped couch, milk crates and flee market dishes your child is packing up, your son or daughter may need insurance for their personal electronics like a laptop, stereo or i-phone. These items can be covered on a renters policy up to the personal property limit selected; but a critical fact to keep in mind with electronics is that regardless of whether these items are covered on a parent's homeowner's policy, or a tenant’s policy, the coverage will only apply to a covered loss. A laptop mysteriously disappearing, falling off a table, getting a virus or getting coffee spilled on it would not typically be covered by most policies. For specifics, consult with your insurance professional, like HPM Insurance in Bedford and Milford. It may be better to buy a protection package from where you purchased the electronic device.
It is also important to remember that a deductible always applies, so if you have $1000 deductible many of these items would individually fall under this limit.
Another important fact is that if your son or daughter lives in a dorm and is covered by a parent's homeowners policy, coverage may be limited. Some homeowner policies will only cover off-premises property, such as that taken to a dorm room, up to 10% of your total property coverage limit. For example, if your policy covers up to $100,000 for your personal property, your child would be covered up to $10,000. You should consider these limits when deciding what your child should bring to school, as well as the coverage limitations and deductible selected.
3. Are roommates covered?
Unfortunately, no. Typically, the property and liability of roommates, whether in a dorm or apartment, will not be covered by your policy. Each person will need their own renter’s insurance or coverage extended from a parent's policy.
4. How will college affect my NH car insurance?
If your son or daughter takes a car to school, you should notify your insurance company, as this will most likely affect the premium. Because the cost of car insurance partially depends on the vehicle’s garaging location, the premiums may go up or down depending on the location of your child’s school.
If your child is not taking his or her own car, you should still leave him or her on your policy, especially if still considered a household member. The reason is because your auto policy can extend coverage to your son or daughter if injured by a vehicle (even if not your car) if no other insurance is available or the vehicle involved in the accident does not have sufficient limits.
An example of this would be if your child was a passenger in a car that did not have any insurance. If your son or daughter were injured, they could most likely collect for their injuries under your policy’s uninsured motorist coverage.
The good news is that most New Hampshire auto policies offer a significant discount if your child is living at a school more than 100 miles away.
5. Is my son or daughter covered to drive another student’s car? Are other students covered to drive mine?
Typically, yes, if it is not a regular occurrence and used with permission, but check with your specific carrier. If your child needs to drive another person’s vehicle and is involved in an accident, the policy covering that vehicle would normally pay first. If those limits were exhausted, and your son or daughter was still considered a member of your household and listed on your policy, then your insurance could contribute as well.
If someone, other than your son or daughter, drives a car listed on your insurance policy with permission and is involved in an accident, your insurance would be the primary policy to pay for damages. If they had their own policy or were covered by a parent's car insurance policy, that policy would be secondary to kick-in.
Given the seriousness of this issue and the many scenarios involved it is advised you check with your agent for the coverage details of your specific insurance company.
6. Will my NH Health Insurance extend to child while at school?
With the Affordable Care Act, children are allowed to stay on your health insurance policy until age 26. This means that your college student will likely be covered under your existing health insurance policy. However, you should check with your New Hampshire health insurance company to find in-network providers. If there is not a comprehensive network of providers near your child’s school, you may be better off helping them purchase student health insurance.
Protect your educational investment
Going off to college is an exciting time. As coverage can depend on various factors like if your son or daughter is staying in New Hampshire or going further away, if your child is 21 or older, decides to live off campus, or even study abroad, make sure you educate your student and yourself about critical insurance issues that can impact a successful school year.
This material is for informational purposes only. All statements herein are subject to the provision, exclusions and conditions of the applicable policy. For an actual description of all coverages, terms and conditions, refer to the insurance policy or consult with your insurance professional.