RICHMOND — Registering for classes, finding a place
to live, and managing their money are just a few of the many challenges students
face as they prepare for college. Making sure they have the insurance coverage they
need is another important consideration.
The State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance offers tips to help parents
ensure that their college-bound students have the insurance coverage they need for
their health, vehicles, and belongings while they are away at school.
Federal law now requires any health insurance plan or issuer that offers dependent
coverage to make that coverage available until the dependent reaches age 26. Until
2014, if the parent’s coverage is through an employer, and the dependent is eligible
for coverage through his or her own job, the parent’s plan is not required to provide
The Bureau of Insurance encourages parents to make sure their students have a copy
of relevant insurance cards and know about obtaining referrals and approvals (if
necessary) before seeking treatment. If you are insured by a health maintenance
organization (HMO), check to see if your student will be outside the HMO service
area while away at school. If this occurs, the student likely will have coverage
for emergency care, but might have to travel to a physician or hospital within the
HMO service area for routine care. If your insurer is part of a preferred provider
organization (PPO), your insurer may pay benefits at out-of-network levels if your
student uses health care providers that are outside your network. Check your plan
provisions or talk to your insurance company to find out what level of benefits
your policy provides.
Students who do not have health insurance through a parent’s policy or who have
limited coverage due to network service areas may opt to purchase a student health
insurance plan. These plans are sold by an insurer that has contracted with a college
to offer coverage to its students. They typically have more limited benefits and
more exclusions than traditional health insurance plans.
Routine dental care and eye care generally are not included as part of a health
insurance plan, although many such plans will cover non-cosmetic dental work that
is medically necessary due to an accident, and most will cover medical care as a
result of an eye disease or injury.
Other considerations for college-bound students and their parents include the following:
- Renters insurance – If your student is enrolled
in classes and living in on-campus housing, your homeowners policy will likely extend
to his personal belongings such as electronics, computers, furniture, and clothes
that he takes to school. However, your homeowners policy may include a special limit
on personal property that is located elsewhere, so you will need to be aware of
any such limitation. If your student is living off campus, a separate renters insurance
policy may need to be purchased to protect his personal property in the event that
it is damaged, destroyed or stolen. In either case, the Bureau of Insurance recommends
creating a home inventory of your student’s belongings including purchase prices,
model and serial numbers, and photos or videos. This will help you decide how much
renters insurance your student will need and will facilitate filing an insurance
claim in the event of a loss. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners
(NAIC) offers an application – myHOME Scr.APP.book – that makes it easy to create
and update a home inventory. The app is free and available for both
Android® smart phone users.
- The Big Move – Before you pack all of your
student's belongings into a car or rental trailer, make sure the contents are insured.
Ask your insurance agent or company if your homeowners policy will cover the belongings
in your student's car or rental trailer before he gets to campus. If your student
is going to live off campus, ask your insurance agent or company if coverage in
his renters policy will extend to his belongings during the move.
- Auto Insurance – If your student is taking
a car with him to school, ask your agent or company about its impact on your existing
auto insurance policy. If the car is going to be kept at another location, you should
notify your agent or company about this change in garaging. Some insurance companies
offer discounts for students who maintain a certain grade point average.
- Identity Theft – College students may be
vulnerable to identity theft because of the availability of personal information
and the way many students handle this data. Identity theft insurance cannot protect
you or your student from becoming a victim of identity theft and does not cover
direct monetary losses incurred as a result. However, it does provide coverage for
the cost of reclaiming your financial identity or that of your student – such as
the costs of phone calls, making copies, mailing documents, taking time off from
work without pay, and hiring an attorney.
Check to see if your homeowners policy includes identity theft insurance, and ask
your insurance agent or company if this extends to your student living away from
your primary residence. If not, you may be able to purchase a stand-alone policy
from another insurer, bank, or credit card company. If your student is renting an
apartment, ask if his renters insurance covers identity theft, or if it could be
added to the policy.
For more information about auto, home, renters, life, and health insurance, as well
as tips for choosing the coverage that is right for you and your family, contact
the SCC’s Bureau of Insurance toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or by email at BureauofInsurance@scc.virginia.gov
or visit its website at www.scc.virginia.gov/boi. Consumers who are deaf or who
are hearing or speech impaired may call through the SCC’s Telecommunications Device
for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (TDD) at (804) 371-9206. Additional information
may also be found on the NAIC website at www.insureUonline.org.