College students should put insurance on back-to-school checklist

Filed under: Daily News,Insurance | Tags:,

College students heading back to classes this month should put insurance on their list of must-haves for the coming school year, the Colorado Commissioner of Insurance said.

Students living away from home can experience loss of belongings through fires and thefts, said Jim Riesberg, Colorado Commissioner of Insurance. For example in 2009, there were 14 fires and 10 cases of arson in on-campus student residential facilities at public colleges and universities in Colorado.

For personal belongings, college students who live in on- or off-campus housing can be covered in one of two ways: by having their own policies, or through an extension of their parents’ homeowner or renter insurance policies, he said. The Colorado Division of Insurance regulates the insurance industry and assists consumers and other stakeholders with insurance issues.

Parents should contact their insurance agent or company to determine whether their homeowner’s insurance will cover a student away at school. Most policies extend 10 percent of contents coverage anywhere in the world and away from the residence premises, including dorms. However, if the college student is independent and living in an apartment a separate renters’ policy would be appropriate.

Parents and college students should consider all types of insurance, including auto liability insurance and health insurance. Federal health care reform that went into effect on Sept. 23, 2010 allows adults up to age 26 to be covered under the parents’ health insurance policies.

Students who do not have health insurance through a parent’s health insurance policy, or who have limited coverage, may want to consider buying a student health insurance plan, Riesberg said. Student plans are sold by an insurer that has contracted with a college to offer coverage to its students. In general, these plans may have more limited benefits and more exclusions than traditional health insurance plans, and may require the student use a campus-based student health service rather than a provider in the community. Some colleges may require students purchase the student health insurance plan if they don’t have other comparable health insurance coverage.