College-bound? Do your homework on insurance

(ARA) – If you or your child is college-bound this fall, don’t forget to review your insurance. Doing your homework now could save you money and headaches in the future.

Personal property coverage

Make sure the student’s possessions are protected in case of theft, fire and other damage while they’re at school.

“While most items will be covered under the parents’ homeowners policy, you can’t assume Mom and Dad’s policy will completely cover a college-bound son or daughter – especially if they own expensive, high-tech electronics,” says Charles Valinotti, senior vice president of QBE Regional Insurance.

Because insurance companies vary in their definitions of who and what is covered, Valinotti recommends talking with your insurance agent to determine the best solution for your family. Here are three questions to ask:

1. Is your daughter considered a “resident of the household” under your policy, even though she’s moving out of your house? Typically the answer is “yes” if she’s residing in a dorm or other student housing and you can claim her on your taxes.

2. Is your son’s dorm an “insured location” under your policy? Most standard policies cover 10 percent of your contents value for items located at another insured residence. For example, if your home is insured for $200,000, your contents coverage may be $150,000; thus, you’d have $15,000 of coverage for the possessions in your son’s dorm. If that’s not enough to replace his things in case of a total loss, you may want to increase the contents coverage on your homeowners policy.

3. If your daughter gets married or your son drops to part-time student status and continues to reside away from your home, how does it affect their insurance coverage? Chances are, they’ll no longer be covered under their parents’ policy and will require renter’s insurance to protect their possessions.

Vehicle coverage

There’s potential to save money on your auto insurance if your student is taking her car to school with her – or even if she’s not.

* Make sure policies are up to date with the student’s current school address. You may benefit if she takes her car to an area with lower rates.

* Look into discounts if the student leaves his car at home. If his dorm is more than 100 miles from your driveway, where the car is kept, you may be eligible for discounts.

* If your student leaves his car at home and won’t be using it while he’s in school, consider reducing coverage or changing his driving status from primary use to occasional use. This will cut your rates.

* Remember, your insurance company’s good student discount may apply for college students, too. For example, General Casualty and Unigard offer a Good Student Discount to full-time students who are less than 25 years old.

“When a member of your family goes off to college, that’s a significant change to your household, and it’s important to notify your insurance agent,” Valinotti says.

Courtesy of ARAcontent