Insurance Insights

July 21-27, 2014

Insurance needs for college students

By Jay Bradford

I can hardly believe it is now mid-July.  Many of you may have children ready to leave for college in the next month or so.  This is the perfect time to review your homeowners, auto, and health insurance policies to determine what is and what is not covered for college-bound children.  This review can go a long way towards preventing financial surprises.

While most first-year students live in college housing, others may be renting apartments.  Either way, they will likely have valuables such as computers, televisions, audio equipment, and video game systems that could be stolen or destroyed in a fire or natural disaster.  Parents should always check their homeowners policy to see whether it will cover a college student’s possessions.  

If your child lives in  an off-campus apartment for which they or you are paying rent, you might also consider purchasing renters insurance through your existing homeowners insurance provider.  A landlord’s insurance policy only covers the building in a catastrophic event, not a student’s possessions.

While students are away at college, it is important to check whether the campus health facility, local physicians, and hospitals accept your family’s insurance coverage.  Be sure your child has a copy of the relevant insurance cards and knows if a referral or pre-approval is required before seeking treatment.  Also, remember that as a result of the Affordable Care Act, children can stay on their parents health insurance plan until the age of twenty-six.

I would advise college students and their parents to do their homework regarding auto insurance.  If a college student is going to be using the family vehicle while making visits home, parents should make sure the child is listed by name on the family’s auto insurance policy.  In addition, one’s insurance company should be notified each semester if the student is maintaining good grades as that accomplishment can sometimes lower one’s premiums.

 I urge you to review your various insurance policies every year in order to ensure adequate coverage, but this review is especially warranted if you are sending a child off to college.

The Arkansas Insurance Department is located at 1200 West Third Street in downtown Little Rock.  1-800-852-5494.  www.insurance.arkansas.gov

Jay Bradford was appointed Arkansas Insurance Commissioner by Governor Mike Beebe on January 15, 2009.