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Ensuring Peace of Mind When College Beckons

This is an exciting but stressful period if someone in your family just headed off to college. Seems like there are 1001 things to think about and plan for. Make sure insurance is one of them preferably at or near the top of your list. That's because there are more than 50,000 thefts and other property crimes on US campuses every year and countless more routine and emergency medical incidents.

In some cases, existing homeowners, health and auto insurance policies provide the cover you need. In others you may need separate or additional cover, especially if the student will be away from home. Here are some of the issues to help you decide:

Property Insurance: It's amazing how the value of a student's personal belongings quickly add up, often to a five figure number. You should check whether your homeowners insurance covers this but remember, even that may require expensive items such as computers or valuables to be separately listed in the policy. Otherwise, consider renter's insurance, which has the advantage of liability protection and may even include certain medical costs.

Health Insurance: Most family policies cover dependents who are full-time students to age 23 (or beyond in some states), but definitions of "full time" vary by insurer. Students who marry will likely lose this cover. Also, if your policy is through a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and the student is outside their area, although they'll probably be covered locally for emergencies, they may have to return home for routine medical visits. Separate student health insurance plans are available but benefits are usually limited compared with family policies. Premiums are affected by a range of considerations including deductibles and co-pays.

Auto Insurance: The key issue here is whether the student's existing auto insurance policy imposes any limitations on cover for extended out-of-state use or the other way around: does the policy meet the minimum auto insurance requirements of the state in which it is being used. You also have to let the insurer know when the auto is going to be parked or garaged at a new location, especially, again, if it's out of state.

The important point is the need always to check the extent of your existing cover before the student leaves. Of course, we would be happy to work with you on this and provide further information and advice.

Making Student Safety A Key Priority

College is a new experience where first-timers encounter unfamiliar situations and hazards. Personal security is one issue. Students should avoid late-night solo outings, always let others know where they are, and protect valuables, including information that could lead to identity theft. This is especially important in shared accommodation, where other might have access to these things.

Health-wise, there are new risks to be managed diet, exercise, vaccinations, fatigue, potential substance abuse and all sorts of psychological pressures that come with living in a different community and facing new challenges. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides extensive coverage of these issues on its website by clicking here.

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