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July 23, 2012 Vivian D. Laxton,
Director, Public Affairs

College Students Should Hit the Books on Insurance
Consider Needs for Health, Auto and Renters Policies

As students head off to college in the fall, the Maryland Insurance Administration encourages young adults - and their parents - to get smart about insurance. Children living away from home might not be covered by their parents' property, auto and health insurance. 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. Parents should check their homeowners policies to see whether they will cover students' possessions while away from home. If your student will be living in an off-campus apartment, consider purchasing renters insurance. Renters insurance policies often provide coverage not only for a student's possessions, but also for additional living expenses if his or her apartment is uninhabitable. Keep in mind the deductible that you would be required to pay in the event of a claim. 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 your child attends school away from home but will use the family car when home on breaks, be sure to have him or her listed as a driver on your auto policy. Many companies offer a discount if your student is attending school over a certain distance and will not have regular access to the family vehicle.

If your student will be keeping a car on campus, it is important that you notify your insurance company of this information. In addition, the insurance company should be notified if your students achieves good grades as that accomplishment might earn a discount and lower your premiums.

Your child may be covered under your 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. Review this plan carefully to make certain you fully understand what it covers.

It is important to review your policies to learn exactly what is covered and speak with your insurance advisor, producer or company regarding any questions you may have. You can also contact the Maryland Insurance Administration at 410-468-2000 or 1-800-492-6116 for further assistance.

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