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Insurance 101: Make sure your college-bound kid is covered

By Posted : 08/31/2010

College StudentsAs your son packs up all his earthly belongings for college, you can't imagine squeezing one more thing into the car.

But one essential might be missing: enough insurance.

Make sure your child has plenty of coverage in these three categories:

1. Homeowner or renters insurance

Although you might have been lucky to have a clock radio in your dorm room, today's college students have loads of expensive gear--laptops, flat-screen TVs, iPods and more. Your renters or home insurance should cover most of the stuff your kids take to college with them, but check the policy's limits on off-premises belongings, which might be as low as 10 percent.

Consider buying a personal property floater or endorsement if your policy limits are too low for expensive items, or stand-alone insurance coverage for things like computers and cell phones, says the Insurance Information Institute.

Your college student may not be covered by your homeowner policy if she will be living off campus. In that case, she'll need separate renters insurance.

2. Car insurance

Is your son or daughter taking a car? He or she should already be listed as a driver under your policy if you own the vehicle. Let the insurance company know the car will be garaged in a different location, which impacts the premium. Your coverage could be jeopardized if you fail to report the change and the insurer finds out.

You child needs her own insurance policy if she owns the title. Make sure the policy has plenty of liability coverage and enough collision and comprehensive car insurance to cover the value of the car and cost of repairing it.

Let the insurance company know if your child isn't taking your car but will remain on your policy to drive at home. This information should bring your premium down.

Finally, check the cut-off age for how long your kid can remain on your policy. Many insurance companies allow children to remain on their parents' policies past age 18 as long as they are full-time college students.

3. Health insurance

Thanks to federal health care reform, children up to age 26 can remain on your health insurance policy as dependents.

But your health plan won't do any good if your college student moves out of the plan's provider network for coverage. In that case, consider student health insurance offered through the college or university. Most schools offer affordable accident and illness health insurance plans.

Watching your kids go off to college requires the tough challenge of letting go. Making sure they have enough insurance is one way to make it easier.

Barbara Marquand is a writer with more than twenty years of reporting experience for newspapers, magazines and Web sites. She writes frequently about insurance and other business topics.

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