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College students and their parents have recently endured a rocky period—lockdowns, remote learning, vaccinations and other pandemic-related circumstances. With more than a year of pandemic education behind them, students and parents alike are entering the first full academic year of the pandemic era.
Aside from paying tuition, buying books, adding wardrobe items and picking out dorm room furnishings, college students and parents should gain some know-how regarding the types of insurance that might be wise to consider. In these times, having the right protection is important.
Nailing Down Health Insurance
If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that health insurance is vitally important first aid for your finances, since medical bills can weigh down folks who are uninsured.
Many colleges and universities require students to carry health insurance. But even if health insurance isn’t mandated, health insurance can help ease the financial blow of a health care emergency. Generally, college students have four alternatives for health insurance.
1. Stay on a Parent’s Plan
Through the Affordable Care Act, a dependent can stay on a parent’s health insurance plan until age 26. This coverage can be particularly beneficial if a parent’s health plan has a provider network where the student attends school.
If your health plan doesn’t have a provider network where your child goes to college, check the deductibles for out-of-network coverage so you’re not caught by surprise if your student visits the doctor.
2. Enroll in a Student Health Plan
A lot of colleges and universities provide access to student health plans. In some cases, schools automatically put students in their health plans unless a student or their parents prove that coverage already is in place.
The out-of-pocket copays and deductibles for these plans can be lower than similar plans that parents have through their employers.
If you decide to go ahead with a student health plan, review it to see how much the premiums are and how much coverage is provided.
3. Sign up for Individual Coverage
For students who aren’t eligible to stay on a parent’s plan or can’t buy coverage from their school, an option worth exploring is coverage through the federal government’s health insurance marketplace. If someone’s income is low enough, a federal subsidy might offset the cost of this coverage.
4. Check out Medicaid
Medicaid, the federal and state health insurance program, may benefit low-income students. Aside from meeting income requirements, a student must live in the state where they get Medicaid coverage. Therefore, Medicaid may not be a good alternative for a student who goes to school in a different state.
Car Insurance for College Students
If a student is heading off to campus with a family car, alert your auto insurance company. Depending on where the student and the car are located, your auto insurance rate might change. What happens if you fail to mention to an insurer that the car is being “garaged” elsewhere? The insurer could potentially refuse to pay a claim related to that car.
If a student is going off to school without a car, you may be able to score an insurance discount:
- A “student away at school” discount can apply if the student is going to be at least 100 miles from home and not taking a car.
- Ask about a “good student discount” if your child earns good grades (typically a B average or above) or other qualifying factors.
Does Your Student Need Renters Insurance?
A student’s belongings normally fall under a parent’s homeowners insurance policy if they’re staying in on-campus housing, such as a dorm. But your coverage often doesn’t cover those belongings if a student lives in off-campus housing like an apartment or house. To cover belongings in an off-campus setting, look into renters insurance.
Renters insurance not only covers belongings in situations like theft, fires and tornadoes, but it also covers items when they’re not in a student’s residence. For instance, renters insurance may pay for a student’s laptop computer if it’s stolen from a classroom.
If you would be financially strapped if you had to replace all your child’s belongings after, say, a fire, renters insurance is a smart bet.
Tuition Insurance for Your Big Investment
With tuition often costing more than a really nice car, why not have a safety net for the money you’re plunking down every semester?
Tuition insurance can reimburse you for tuition, fees and living expenses if a student leaves school because of a problem covered by the policy. This list typically includes injury or illness, and some include mental health health reasons. Coverage in case your child gets Covid and has to drop out isn’t standard, so check the policy’s fine print if you want that feature.