As thousands of new university students move on to campus, their parents are left to worry about all the things they’ve forgotten – like insurance coverage.
What happens, for instance, if something – fire, theft, illness, or an accident – goes wrong after school starts?
As long as your children are full-time students and expected to return home during the summer, their belongings are usually covered by your property insurance policy, assuming they live in residence.
However, there may be a limit on the coverage on property used by students while away at university.
Also read: The Ins and Outs of Insurance>
Existing Home Insurance May Not Be Sufficient
That cap may not be enough to cover valuable items that they might be taking with them like bikes, laptops or tablets, for example. In that case, you’d need to arrange for additional coverage for these items.
Most policies don’t cover anything that they buy for their room that they won’t be taking back home with them – furniture, for example.
That’s because it isn’t considered property that’s temporarily away from their permanent residence; the furniture wasn’t there when they left for university, so it won’t be there when they return.
If they move off campus, they also might need to purchase their own renters insurance policy. If so, encourage them to take inventory of their possessions to help you determine the amount of coverage needed and minimize stress after a fire or break-in.
Roommates Can Be Another Worry
Will they be sharing space? Even if their roommate has their own renters policy, don’t expect it to cover all of their stuff as well. Most policies only cover the belongings of the policyholder, unless you opt for joint coverage.
If they are considering purchasing joint insurance with roommates, make sure everyone is on the same page. Your child’s valuables may be worth less than theirs. And what about making changes to the policy or submitting claims?
The good news is that renters insurance is relatively cheap. For $150 to $200 a year, you can usually get coverage to replace most of the stuff students usually own.
Also read: 7 Tips for University Student Rentals>
Check Out Health And Dental Coverage
As part of registration, new students will be automatically enrolled in a school-run health and dental insurance plan, similar to plans offered to working employees.
This generally covers supplemental health procedures, out-of-country travel insurance, and most routine dental work.
Usually enrollment is mandatory but if they’re still covered by your plan (or have a spouse with a separate plan) they can get their money back.
Full time students must opt-out by a certain date, however – generally a few weeks after school starts. Don’t let this one slide. At most universities, that could mean leaving as much as $200 on the table.
Students Studying Overseas Can Mean Complications
If yours is one thousands of young Canadians studying abroad, personal health insurance is a consideration.
While young Canadians have a full slate of health care benefits from their provincial plans while at home, once they leave the country those benefits decrease sharply.
Students think of themselves as invincible and so don’t think about the need for health insurance when out of the country. But anyone travelling outside the country needs to be realistic about the financial risks of not having adequate coverage – especially when leaving for long periods.
Check With Your Provincial Health Ministry
Most U.S. universities, for instance, require foreign students to have adequate health insurance in place as a condition of enrollment. In fact, until recently, most institutions had their own plans in place.
But that’s all changed, thanks to the U.S. health reform introduced under the Affordable Care Act. Under Obamacare, all student health plans across the border now have to expand their benefits to match those available to the general population. Unfortunately, many universities have chosen to opt out instead, leaving students on their own.
Be sure your faraway student understands the rules well before needing medical care.
At the very least, out-of-country students should check with their provincial health ministry to get a dispensation on the six or seven month residency rule that governs who’s still eligible for OHIP and other provincial plans.