COLUMBUS — It can be a hectic and emotional time for parents sending their child to college. Determining what they should take while away from home can be challenging and so can ensuring they have adequate insurance protection. Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor offers these tips about health, renters, auto and identity theft insurance for parents when reviewing their student’s insurance needs.
“It’s important for parents to talk with their insurance agent about the options available for their children in college,” Taylor said. “Knowing adequate coverage is in place can provide peace of mind for parents and their children.”
Most health insurance policies cover dependents until the age of 26. In Ohio, fully insured and public employee plans may cover a dependent to age 28. Policies differ, so check with your health insurer or benefits administrator about the age limitation on your coverage.
Know Your Policy
- Make sure your student has a copy of the relevant insurance cards and knows 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 at school. If this occurs, the student may 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 level of benefits is provided by your policy.
Student Health Insurance Plans
- If your student’s healthcare coverage is limited by the network service area, another option is a student health insurance plan. These plans are sold by an insurer that has contracted with a college to offer coverage to its students. In general, these plans have more limited benefits and more exclusions than traditional health insurance plans.
Many students bring thousands of dollars worth of personal items – such as electronics, a computer, textbooks, clothes, furniture or a bicycle – with them to school. So, whether your student is living on or off-campus, it’s a good idea to review your homeowners policy to see whether your student’s personal items will be covered.
Does Your Student Need Renters Insurance?
- 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, talk with your insurance agent about whether your homeowners coverage will extend to the rental property. If it does not, you might want to consider renters insurance to protect your student’s personal property.
- Documenting possessions with a home inventory will help make sure you have enough coverage to fully protect and more easily replace your valuables.
- A paper home inventory template is available at www.insurance.ohio.gov. Make sure to take photos or video of the possessions, and store the inventory in a secure, off-site location.
- A free iPhone and Android compatible myHOME Scr.APP.book app allows you or your child to easily archive their personal possessions.
If your student is taking a car with them to school, 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 car on the family’s auto policy. In addition, the insurance company should be notified each semester if the student maintains good grades. Maintaining a certain G.P.A. might make your child eligible for a good student discount.
As a college student, your child may be more vulnerable to identity theft because of the availability of personal information and the way many students handle this data. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, costing victims more than $5 billion annually.
Identity Theft Insurance
- 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 homeowners 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.
- If your student is renting an apartment, ask if their renter’s insurance covers identity theft, or if it could be added to the policy.