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Insurance for college students: What you do and don’t need

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When freshmen head off to college, they’re often leaving home for the first time. In addition to choosing classes and navigating a new life with roommates, it’s important to consider insurance for college students. Common personal insurance policies for college students include health, renters’ and car insurance, but there are many things to consider when deciding on coverage.

Renters’ Insurance for College Students

As a college student, you may be covered by your parents’ homeowners’ insurance policy, even when living away from home. However, some college students may need to secure their own renters’ insurance policy.

Check the terms of your parents’ homeowners’ insurance policy to see what it covers. Some policies cover personal items that are stolen or destroyed away from the primary residence. This coverage may extend to college students living away from home, but there may be limits based on your age and whether you’re living in a dorm or an off-campus home. Furthermore, as the limits will be significantly lower than the main policy limits, you’ll need to make sure you have enough coverage.

College students living in an off-campus apartment or house may need renters’ insurance. In fact, renters’ insurance is often a requirement under lease agreements. The good news is renters’ insurance tends to be affordable and provides important coverage that includes the following:

  • Property coverage for personal belongings such as furniture, clothes, kitchenware and electronics. If the policyholder’s property is stolen or damaged by a covered peril, it will be covered in accordance with the terms of the policy.
  • Liability coverage for certain types of third-party claims. For example, if a guest is injured in the apartment and the student is sued, a renters’ insurance policy will cover the claim, as per the policy terms.
  • Additional living expenses for costs incurred if the apartment is unlivable. After a fire, leak or other covered peril, renters’ insurance can cover hotel stays and other associated costs during repairs.

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The Best Car Insurance for College Students

College students may receive car insurance coverage through their parents’ policies or through a separate policy.

If a student still lives at home or lives nearby and occasionally drives the family car, the car insurance company may require the college student to stay on the family policy. Talk to your auto insurance company or auto insurance broker to find out the requirements of your parents’ car insurance policy.

College students often have higher auto insurance rates because younger drivers are considered riskier. College students with a driving record that includes moving violations and at-fault crashes should expect to pay even more. By keeping a driver with high rates on the family policy, everyone may end up paying more.

If you need to buy car insurance for a college student, the following pointers can help you find affordable coverage:

  • Look for discounts. College students with good grades may qualify for student discounts.
  • Consider usage-based car insurance. Usage-based car insurance programs determine rates based on how much the policyholder drives and/or whether the policyholder practices safe driving habits. This may provide an affordable car insurance option for college students who drive safely and don’t drive often.
  • Check your limits. States set a minimum requirement for the limit of liability insurance drivers must carry. However, if losses exceed your policy’s liability limits, your assets could be seized to cover the difference. Consider whether you want to raise your limits.
  • Determine whether you need additional coverage types. In addition to the car insurance coverage types required under state law, drivers may wish to protect themselves with additional coverage. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is often recommendable. Collision and comprehensive coverage are also common and are especially important for financed cars. However, college students who drive used cars that are owned outright may decide collision and comprehensive insurance is not worth the extra cost.

Student Health Insurance Plans

Going without health insurance is risky, even for college students who are in good health. When you lack health insurance, a single medical emergency – such as a burst appendix or a broken leg – could be financially devastating.

Thankfully, there are several options for health insurance plans for college students.

  • Stay on your parents’ health plan. Under the Affordable Care Act, dependents under the age of 26 can stay on their parents’ health plan, meaning that college students usually don’t have to worry about health coverage. However, there is a catch: college students who study out of state may not have access to in-network care through their parents’ plans. If you’re moving to another state to go to school, find out whether your plan’s network will cover you.
  • Enroll in student health insurance through the college. Some colleges and universities offer student health plans. However, not all of these plans are the same. Whereas some offer comprehensive benefits, others offer limited coverage. Before relying on a student health plan for your coverage, review the coverage terms and determine whether you’ll have enough coverage in the case of a serious illness or injury.
  • Buy a health plan on the health insurance marketplace. A marketplace plan may be a great option for college students who are over age 26 or studying out of state and need comprehensive coverage.
  • Buy private health insurance coverage. If none of the above options fit your situation, consider buying a private health plan outside the health insurance marketplace exchange. In addition to traditional health insurance plans, you may have access to short-term health insurance. Working with an insurance broker can help you determine the best plan for your needs.

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Other Insurance Policies for College Students

For most college students, auto, renters’ and health insurance are the three most important coverage types – they may even be all the coverage that’s needed. However, some college students may want additional policies.

For example, a college student who uses a motorcycle will need motorcycle insurance. If you ride a bike regularly, you may want to invest in bicycle insurance.

Most college students may not feel the need to purchase life insurance yet, but this option may make sense for some. For example, college students who start a family while in school will likely want to purchase life insurance coverage.

Dental insurance is another useful type of coverage to consider. Under the Affordable Care Act, dental health coverage is an essential health benefit for people aged 18 or younger. However, plans aren’t required to provide this coverage for adults. If your parents have a dental insurance plan, you may be covered under this policy. If you’re not covered, consider buying a separate dental plan.

Do you need help navigating insurance for college students?

College is an exciting yet stressful time, and there’s a lot to consider when purchasing insurance for college students. Higginbotham can help ease this burden for students and their families.

If you’re a college student or the parent of a college student, one of our insurance brokers can guide you through your options when securing insurance for college students. Talk to one of our personal insurance specialists today and discover the Higginbotham difference.

Not sure where to start? Talk to someone who wants to listen.

A great plan starts with a conversation. Let’s talk about what you need.

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