The last months before you send your child off to college will be packed with activity. You'll be investigating last-minute financial options, checking details, planning and organizing the process for a smooth—and safe—transition. One important topic to make sure you cover is insurance.
Do you need to make any adjustments to your insurance to be sure your child will be properly covered at school? Will their belongings be covered in the dorm? Will they need auto or renters insurance?
This college checklist can help you review your child's insurance needs and offers some options that you can explore. While not an exhaustive list, these tips can help you sort out the variety of coverages your student may need, from renters insurance to health-care coverage.
- Review your homeowners policy. A homeowners policy often covers your child if he or she is living on campus, but coverage amounts can be about a tenth of the limit on the contents of your home. That means if you’re covered for up to $50,000 in losses, your student’s belongings would be covered for 10%, or $5,000, unless you add an endorsement (addition) to make sure expensive items such as computers are covered, Consumer Reports explains. And your homeowner’s deductible ($500 to $1,500) would apply. Check your current homeowners policy to understand what’s covered and make adjustments if needed.
- Consider dorm insurance. A dorm policy covering $5,000 with a $25 deductible can cost as little as $140 a year. Look for companies with A+ Better Business Bureau Ratings, advises Consumer Reports.
- Get renters insurance for off-campus living. Homeowner policies don’t cover students when they live off-campus so your apartment-dweller will need a renters policy. How much should it cover? Consider the neighborhood (check crime statistics), whether (and how many) other people will be sharing the space, and your child’s history of taking care of his or her property before you decide. As an NEA member, you can opt for NEA Renters Insurance that has special perks for members.
- Check your auto policy. If your student has a car on campus, do you have enough or the right auto insurance to cover your child? The NEA Auto and Home Insurance Program from California Casualty encourages parents to contact their insurance company about maintaining auto coverage for their student drivers that are away at school—with or without a vehicle—and to review coverage for their personal possessions and liability as well.
- Does your student need health insurance? Ask what the college requires. “Obamacare” is no longer an option since the Affordable Care Act was eliminated in 2019, but your student is covered until age 26 by your family health plan, which may be cheaper than a student health policy available from the college.
As you compare costs, remember that college health insurance will be part of your tuition bill each semester unlike the monthly bill for family coverage.
Consider your child's overall health, and how close the school is to your home and what your family policy covers. A healthy child might be fine relying on the campus health clinic for minor problems. One attending a school near home may fare best on your family plan. A distant school student who needs more frequent care and would see out-of-network providers may be best covered by a college health policy.
Stay on track this summer with these additional college checklists
Read Last-Minute College Checklist: Buying Your Dorm Room Essentials to get smart shopping tips that can help you save on dorm, clothing and other college expenses and make the best use of your money.
And see Last-Minute College Checklist: Covering Your Tuition and Fees to make sure your financial bases are covered so you'll be prepared when that first tuition bill arrives.