Consumer Alert: Insurance should be on students’ college checklist

TOPEKA-Don’t forget “insurance needs” when checking off items your college students should have to make their year successful, said Sandy Praeger, Commissioner of Insurance.

“College students across Kansas soon are heading back to their schools,” Praeger said. “But in the rush to get there, students and parents shouldn’t forget to review their insurance coverage needs.”

The commissioner, the Kansas Insurance Department (KID) and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) have put together the following insurance tips for Kansas college students and parents.

Health Insurance

Nearly all young adults up to age 26 can now stay on their parents’ health insurance plans because of federal legislation. That provision is not affected by marital status, financial dependency, enrollment in school, or location.

At school, students should have copies of their insurance cards and know how to seek medical treatment, the Commissioner advises.

“If the student is insured through a network of medical providers, check to see if he or she will be in or out of the provider network service area while at school,” Praeger said. “That will make a difference in how much you or your student will have to pay for out-of-pocket charges.”

Another coverage option is a student health insurance plan purchased through the college, although not all schools offer these limited plans.

“In general, these plans have more limited benefits and coverages than traditional health insurance plans,” Praeger said. “Many of these policies don’t offer routine examination coverage or cover injuries sustained while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This might also be true of a parents’ group plan.”

Renters Insurance

Parents should check with their insurance agents to determine whether their family homeowners policies extend to children away at school. If not, they could consider a renters policy for their students.

“Many renters mistakenly believe that a landlord’s insurance policy on an apartment will protect them in case of a disaster,” Praeger said. “A landlord’s policy doesn’t cover a renter’s personal belongings. Also, make sure to take photos or video of the possessions, and store an inventory list in a secure location.”

To print an easy-to-use home inventory checklist and get more tips about disaster preparedness, visit www.ksinsurance.org and click on “Publications” under the Quick Links button at the top right of the home page. Smart phone users can do an electronic inventory by using the myHOMEScr.APP.book application from the NAIC.

Before packing a student’s belongings into a car or rental trailer, make sure to talk with your insurance agent about whether the contents are insured. Ask if your homeowners insurance policy will cover the belongings in the student’s car or rental trailer before he/she gets to campus.

Auto Insurance

If a student is taking a car to school, check with your local agent about the current vehicle insurance policy. Ask about the rates for the college’s city and state before deciding whether to keep the student’’s car on the family’s auto policy.

Identity Theft

“Identity theft insurance is limited. It can’t protect parents or students from becoming victims of identity theft, and it doesn’t cover your direct financial losses,” Praeger said. “It does give coverage for the cost of reclaiming you or your student’s financial identity – such as the costs of making phone calls, making copies, mailing documents, taking time off from work without pay (lost wages) and hiring an attorney.”

Parents should check first to see if their homeowners policies include identity theft insurance while students are away from home. If a student is renting an apartment, ask if his or her renters insurance covers identity theft, or if that could be added to the policy.

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