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College students need insurance, too

August 7, 2014 – By Melissa Schall, CISR, Insurance Agent and Alisa Allen, RHU, REBC, Insurance Agent, Wisconsin Medical Society Insurance and Financial Services

Insurance for children at college: As back-to-school supplies fill store shelves, it can serve as a reminder for those who have sons or daughters heading to college to make sure college students have their insurance needs covered while they are away.

Automobile insurance: If a student will be living more than 100 miles from home and will not have a vehicle at school, he or she may be eligible for a discount on the auto policy. Students taking a vehicle with them should alert their insurance company of their address at school. It’s also a good idea to caution college students about letting someone else drive their vehicle. If an accident happens, the vehicle owner’s insurance generally responds first and the driver’s insurance is secondary, meaning the owner may be responsible regardless of who is driving the car. Also, remember to ask about a good student discount.

Rental trucks/trailers: When renting a truck or trailer for moving, a personal auto policy will most likely extend liability and medical coverage for the rental period. However, most auto policies will not provide physical damage coverage to the rental moving truck, so consider purchasing the physical damage coverage from the rental company. If property inside the truck is damaged, a homeowners policy generally provides coverage.

Personal property: Parents’ homeowners policies typically cover college students’ liability and personal property. Generally, a homeowners insurance policy will extend coverage for a dorm room or apartment if the son or daughter is enrolled full time, lived at home before attending school and is 23 or younger. If the student is 24 or older, consider extending coverage by endorsement or purchasing a separate renters policy. It’s also a good idea to add a personal computer endorsement to the policy to provide broader coverage.

Health insurance: Out-of-network charges can be costly, so it’s important that college students know which provider networks are covered under their health insurance policy. Students should be familiar with their policy’s urgent and emergency care provisions if the network isn’t available where they are attending school.

It’s also important that students contact their insurance company or agent before they travel outside the United States; whether it’s for a week, a month or a semester. Some policies may extend coverage for students in foreign countries. In some instances, a foreign health care provider will require payment immediately, and the claim will need to be filed later. Travelers should be financially prepared and have the insurance company’s international customer service telephone number.

After graduation: Once students complete college, they will want to reevaluate their insurance needs. If they are moving back home and driving their parent’s vehicle, the home and auto policies will extend coverage to them. New graduates, living on their own, will need a renters or homeowners policy. If they have purchased their own vehicle, they must purchase their own auto policy. If they are driving their parent’s vehicle but are not living in that household, an insurance agent should be consulted. There may be limitations on the policy.

ACA: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires health insurance plans that offer dependent coverage to make the coverage available until an adult child reaches the age of 26. Both married and unmarried children qualify for this coverage. This rule applies to all plans in the individual market and to employer plans. Beginning in 2014, children up to age 26 can stay on their parent’s employer plan even if they have another offer of coverage through an employer.

So, what options are available to young adults once they lose coverage? Wisconsin Medical Society Insurance and Financial Services works with private health insurance companies, including WPS Health Insurance, to provide coverage for individuals losing insurance as a result of aging out of dependent coverage on a family policy. Young adults may qualify for a special enrollment period in the new ACA Marketplace.

In addition, it should be noted that young adults who are not college bound and are moving out to join the work force or military have unique insurance needs as well. An agent should be consulted to discuss their individual situation.

To learn more about insurance coverage, please contact us at 866.442.3810.

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