The time to think about your son or daughter’s insurance needs while away at college or university is long before you say that final teary-eyed goodbye in the parking lot.
Do your insurance homework well before they’re leaving the nest. Depending on whether they will be in residence or living off-campus, there are various ways to protect them:
Coverage under a parent’s home insurance
Often, a student living away from home will be covered – at least in part – by an extension of their parent’s home insurance policy provided they will be returning home after the end of the school year. Make sure you check with your broker to see if your child qualifies under your existing coverage.
Some things to consider would be the nature of the valuables they will be taking: expensive laptops, iPads, and cellphones are the norm these days. Let’s be honest, there will be lots of people in and out of residence and there will be parties. All of these items are attractive to thieves. You need to know if your standard policy enough to cover them, or if you need additional insurance.
Most colleges and universities state in the residency agreement they are not responsible for stolen property and liability coverage for injury or damage. For example, The University of Guelph, Ontario’s Move-In Guide talks about insurance. Wherever your child decides to attend, make sure you read it.
Food for thought: An important point for parents to remember is if you’re extending your home policy to your children while away at school, if a claim is made on their behalf then it counts against your policy. In other words, you could lose your claims-free discount.
Student Covered under Tenant’s Insurance
If you’re a student heading to school that does not plan to return to your parent’s home, you’ll want to set up a separate tenant’s insurance policy for your new place.
Practically speaking, protection against theft and certain kinds of damage are good reasons to make sure a student is properly insured. But this kind of insurance also covers students against liability for damage to the home or residence where they're staying, and against injury claims from visitors.
Most tenant’s insurance policies also include additional living expenses, which generally covers temporary accommodations and expenses if you cannot live at your property due to a covered loss – a fire, for example – or damage.
Food for thought: It’s important to ensure that if multiple roommates are sharing one property - as is often the case among university or college students – each has their own insurance coverage and everyone is named on the lease. If only one person is listed on the lease, he or she will be held liable in a case of damage or injury.
While you may have raised your child right, they cannot control what others do. If someone is injured at the residence or off-campus housing, you’ll want them to be protected. Regardless of whether they’re covered under your home insurance or taking out their own policy, take a detailed inventory of what they’ll be bringing to share with your insurer.
Talk to your broker to determine exactly what kind of coverage is best suited for your child given their living situation. It will help you rest a tiny bit easier at night once they’re away.