COLUMBUS – Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor urges parents of college students to review their insurance policies to make sure students have adequate insurance protection.
“It’s important for parents to talk with their insurance agent about options available for college-aged children,” said Taylor, also director of the Ohio Department of Insurance. “Parents should review their healthcare coverage, auto insurance and homeowners insurance policies to ensure adequate coverage is in place.”
Taylor offers these important tips to help you review and update your insurance policies to cover your college student:
Review Student Health Insurance Plan
Most colleges and universities require students to have coverage by a health insurance plan. If students are without coverage, they may enroll in a college-sponsored plan. Even if the college requires a student to enroll in the plan, opt to seek an additional policy if there are considerable holes in coverage. In general, these plans have more limited benefits and more exclusions than traditional health insurance plans. For example, most student plans have limited catastrophic coverage per accident or illness. Many policies also will exclude routine examinations and injuries.
Understand Your Policy
Make sure your student has a copy of all relevant insurance cards.
If 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 you are outside your network. Check your plan provisions or speak with your insurer to find out what levels of benefits.
Consider Renters Insurance for Personal Belongings
Many students bring thousands of dollars’ worth of personal items — such as pricey laptops, tablets, flat screen televisions and entire wardrobes — with them to school. So, if your student is living on – or off-campus, it is a good idea to review your homeowners policy to see whether your student’s personal items are covered.
If your student is younger than 26 years old, enrolled in classes and living in on-campus housing, your homeowners policy will likely extend to the belongings they take with them.
However, if your student is living off-campus, speak with your insurance agent about whether your coverage will extend to the rental property. If it does not, you might want to consider renter’s insurance to protect their personal property in the event of theft or damage.
Review Your Auto Insurance Policy
A significant move away from home can have a big impact on your auto insurance policy. If your student has taken a car with them to college, check with your agent about the existing insurance policy. Ask about the rates for the college’s city and state before deciding whether to keep your student’s automobile on the family’s auto policy. Additionally, insurance companies may have discounts for students who show great academic progress, so be sure to notify your carrier each semester.
Protect Your Student from Identity Theft
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, costing victims billions of dollars annually. College students are prime targets for identity thieves. They are busy and distracted, and rarely are actively engaged in managing their credit. Not to mention, they are usually required to fill out a flurry of paperwork that may include sensitive information, such as social security numbers, financial aid forms or rental documents, credit card applications and various computer accounts and passwords.
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.
Instead, identity theft insurance provides coverages for the cost of reclaiming your or your student’s financial identity – such as the costs of making phone calls, making copies, mailing documents, taking time off from work without pay (lost wages) and hiring an attorney.
Check to see if your homeowner’s policy includes identity theft insurance, and ask your agent if this extends to your student living away from your primary residence. If not, you might be able to purchase a stand-alone policy from another insurer, bank or credit card company.
f your student is renting an apartment, ask if their renter’s insurance covers identity theft, or if it could be added to the policy.
For more information about auto, home, life and health insurance options, as well as tips for choosing the coverage, that is right for you and your family, call the Ohio Department of Insurance consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526. Insurance information is available at www.insurance.ohio.gov and you can follow the department on twitter @OHInsurance and at www.facebook.com/OhioDepartmentofInsurance.