Your car insurance coverage may need to change depending on where and when your college student drives. Whether your student drives your car or someone else's, contact your car insurance company for a quick policy update.
"Parents should always alert their car insurance company if their kids are coming home for the summer or going away to school," says Penny Gusner, a consumer analyst for CarInsurance.com. "It's always better to be upfront and to be sure they're covered. Every insurance company has different rules about how college students are insured."
Six summer scenarios and car insurance tips
1. Your student owns a car and comes back home from an out-of-state campus for the summer: "College students who own a car should have their own car insurance policy and be removed from yours," says Gusner. "A lot of insurance companies will ask you to prove that the student has her own car insurance, so you should provide that if they ask."
If your student borrows your car instead of driving his own once or twice, then your car insurance will cover any claims in case of an accident, just as it would if a friend borrowed the car. Your college student's insurance would provide secondary coverage, says Gusner.
2. Your student comes home and buys her own car and gets it insured, but will be leaving for an out-of-state school after the summer: Gusner says that the owner of the car must buy their own auto insurance policy.
"Some companies offer a discount if the student buys a policy from the same company as her parents," says Gusner.
Your student should let the auto insurance company know about his plan to use the car in different locations, because insurance requirements vary by state.
"It may be easier to go with a big national insurance company in this case because they can easily add what you need to your policy," says Gusner. "A regional or local insurance company might not be able to offer coverage in both locations."
3. Your student drives a car you own while away at college and then comes back home to drive it for the summer: Gusner says you need to keep this student covered on your car insurance policy year-round, but you should let the insurance company know where the car will be garaged.
"Contact your car insurance company when your student goes to school and when they come back," says Gusner. "The location change could make a difference in your premium, either up or down, especially if the college is in a city and the student lives in a suburb or vice-versa."
If you don't let the car insurance company know about the location change, you run the risk of a denied insurance claim.
4. Your student doesn't own a car and comes back home to drive your car just for the summer: "Some insurance companies will let you take your student off the policy during the school year and then add her back on for part of the year," says Gusner. "It depends on the insurance company, but some limit this according to how far away the college is. For instance, if the school is 100 miles or less from home, the insurance company may insist that your student stay on the policy because of the likelihood that she'll come home for weekends."
5. Your student doesn't own a car and will be driving a relative's or family friend's car for the summer: "Whoever owns the car needs to contact their car insurance company," says Gusner. "The impact on the insurance policy depends on where the car is garaged and how often the student drives it. The car owners might have to put the student on their policy as an occasional driver, usually that means someone who drives less than 25 percent of the car's typical annual mileage."
If the car will be kept at your home, the owner's insurance company needs to be notified.
6. Your student is away for the school year and most of the summer: "If your college student doesn't drive enough to create risk for the insurance company and is only home a couple of weeks a year, then your insurance company may allow you to take the student off your policy," says Gusner. "It's just like if your parents come to visit a few times a year and drive your car. You don't put them on your policy; they're just covered as a guest."
Gusner says you shouldn't be afraid to call your car insurance company to discuss your college student's new driving pattern. In fact, it could save you money if you make the call.
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