The College Student’s Guide to Insurance
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Yes, college students need to worry about insurance too. If you’re packing up for college, it’s important to remember that one big accident, illness or loss of property may be a huge financial setback if you’re not insured. You have enough on your mind with registration, finding your calling, making friends. The last thing you need is to worry about how you’ll pay the bills if you get sick, are robbed or if you have an accident. Here are some tips to ensure that you don’t end up with a huge debt.
Car Insurance for College Students
Whether you’re taking your car to school or leaving it at home, there are steps to take to save money, but driving uninsured is not one of them. The last thing you want are hefty fines, a horrible driving record and the highest rates imaginable for at least three years.
Living on Campus Without a Car
Most college students do not bring their cars to school with them, especially if they are attending a school in a city or a school that does not provide parking spaces for students. If you are insured under a parent’s policy, they may get a break on their bills if you leave your car at home, so be sure to tell your parents about the away-at-school discount for students who won’t be driving most of the year. Also, apply for a good student discount, which is offered to students with a B grade point average and above.
Do not be tempted to cancel a policy because you won’t be driving much. One ride uninsured is all it takes to get in a lot of trouble and face severe penalties. If you get into an accident, you may suddenly be in tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Even if you don’t get pulled over, and no one finds out you’re uninsured, your insurance rate will be much higher due to a lapse in coverage. Consider pausing coverage instead. Even people who don’t own a car are advised to stay insured for this reason with a non-owner car insurance policy.
Living on Campus With a Car
You may choose to bring your car with you but are highly advised to find out about parking options by contacting the school beforehand. Parking lots in the immediate area may be pricey if your school does not have student parking spaces. And street parking usually means higher car insurance rates because cars are more easily stolen when they are not garaged.
Commuting to School
If you plan to live at home and commute to school or are living in an apartment away from school, make sure you have adequate coverage. The majority of college students are in the bracket of rates, so it may seem counterintuitive to add on more expenses, but state minimum liability insurance is often not enough to cover an accident, considering what cars and car repairs cost these days.
Also, you should be aware that liability coverage will not pay for repairs to your car if you’re at fault in an accident. You’d need collision coverage to get paid out a claim settlement. And if your car gets stolen, you’re at a complete loss if you don’t have comprehensive coverage. However, it does not make financial sense to buy extra coverages for a car worth less than $4,000. You should, however, not pass up roadside assistance coverage in case your car breaks down on the road.
Renters Insurance: To Protect Your Belongings
If you will be living in a dormitory, your belongings are covered by your parents’ renters or homeowners insurance, but make sure your parents have you named on the insurance policy to avoid confusion if you ever have to file a claim. Say, if you are robbed, or if you lose your bike. Yes, things lost or stolen off premises are also covered.
If you choose to live in an apartment or rent a condo while you are attending school, you should purchase renters insurance. Renters insurance may not be required by the landlord but should anything destroy or damage your personal belongings, these losses will not be covered by the landlord’s insurance. Imagine having to pay to replace your things without any help from insurance. It’s just not worth it to go without.
If you’re on a tight budget, consider raising your deductible so your monthly premiums are lower. However, that deductible amount will be subtracted from what you get as a claim payout if you ever do need to file a claim.
Your things are your responsibility, so make sure to create an inventory, using video or photographs, in case a terrible leak destroys your laptop and clothing or worse! Create a price list to correspond with the inventory.
If you plan to have a roommate, buy your own policy, otherwise, your coverage may not be enough to cover all your belongings. As you create an inventory, you’ll see what your coverage limit should be. You will not get more than what is set as your limit, minus the deductible of your own choosing.
Health Insurance for College Students
Young people can remain on their parents’ health insurance policy until they reach the age of 26. However, you may be offered health insurance through your school, which may work directly with health services on campus. You may not be able to use these services unless you buy that insurance. If that is the case, ask if their plan covers ambulance and hospital services, too.
It’s a good idea to contact the school you will be attending to get the details so you and your parents can decide what health insurance option is better for you. Your school insurance, for instance, may or may not cover you during the holidays or summers if you will be living away from school. On average, students pay $1,500 - $2,000 a year on school health insurance.