Md. Regulators Advise College Students to Get Smart About Insurance

August 1, 2012

As students head off to college in the fall, the Maryland Insurance Administration is encouraging young adults – and their parents – to get smart about insurance.

Students heading off to college might not be covered by their parents' property, auto and health insurance.
Regulators point out that children living away from home might not be covered by their parents’ property, auto and health insurance.

This means parents should carefully review their homeowners, auto and health insurance policies to determine exactly what is – and what is not – covered for their college-bound children.

Whether students live in college housing or an apartment, they likely will have valuables such as computers, TVs, stereos and video game systems that could be stolen, damaged or destroyed in a covered loss.

Regulators say parents should check their homeowners policies to see whether they will cover students’ possessions while away from home. If students plan to live in an off-campus apartment, regulators say they should consider purchasing renters insurance.

Renters insurance policies often provide coverage not only for a student’s possessions, but also for additional living expenses if the apartment is uninhabitable.

Also, under a renters insurance policy, liability coverage may kick in if there is damage to the apartment for which the insurance is determined to be negligent.

Parents also should do some homework regarding auto insurance. If their child attends school away from home but will use the family car when home on breaks, parents should have the child listed as a driver on their auto policy.

Many companies offer a discount if the child is attending school over a certain distance and will not have regular access to the family vehicle.

If the student will be keeping a car on campus, it is important that the insured notify the insurance company of this information.

The child may be covered under the parents’ health insurance policy until the age of 26. However, while away at college, it is important to check whether the campus health clinic, local physicians and hospitals accept the family health insurance policy.

For example, a student insured through an HMO may be outside the HMO service area of physicians and hospitals. If this occurs, the student may have coverage for emergency care but not for routine care.

Similarly, an insurer may pay benefits at out-of-network levels for students who are outside a PPO network. Be certain the student has a copy of the insurance cards and knows how to obtain any required approvals before seeking treatment.

Students who don’t have health insurance through a parent’s health insurance policy, or who have limited coverage due to network service areas, should consider whether they need to buy an individual health plan directly from an insurer or see if student health plans are available through their colleges.

Student health plans are underwritten by an insurer that has contracted with a college to offer coverage to its students.

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