Child Off to College? Here’s the Question You Didn’t Ask.

It’s the time of year when parents prepare to say goodbye to children heading off to college, and there’s so much emotion wrapped up in this milestone that more practical considerations are sometimes overlooked. Here’s one: will your child at college still be covered by your existing homeowners’ and auto policies?

The answer? Yes. Or no. Or maybe. Let’s take a look:

If you’ve had to buy a computer for your student, or if you’ve seen the prices of textbooks lately, you might be wondering whether your homeowners’ policy covers their belongings when they’re not at home. And if you’ve pondered the decision-making processes of some teens, you might also wonder about liability coverage.

In most cases, your student away from home remains an insured on your homeowners’ policy as long as they satisfy these requirements:

  • Enrolled full-time
  • A resident of your household before moving to school
  • Under the age of 24
  • Related to you

Note that there are limitations to the coverage amounts. A typical homeowners’ policy states, “The Homeowners’ policy’s limit of liability for “personal property usually located at an ‘insureds’ residence, other than the ‘residence premises,’ is 10 percent of the limit of liability for Coverage C, or $1,000, whichever is greater.” So if you carry $100,000 in personal property coverage, any losses to your child’s belongings would be capped at $10,000.

Also, if a child is living in private, off-campus housing (as opposed to a fraternity or sorority house) you will want to purchase a tenants’ policy.

Regarding automotive coverage, some parents attempt to save by having the child purchase new coverage for the car when they arrive at their college destination. However, this does not insulate the parents from liability concerns unless the vehicle also has been titled in the child’s name. Otherwise, the parents will remain named insureds on the new auto policy and will carry the corresponding liability exposure.

There are many, many variations to the insurance scenarios presented by a child moving away to college. Take the opportunity to go over the details with your insurance professional.

Questions about homeowners’ or automotive coverage for a child heading off to college? Contact Consolidated Insurance.