August 31, 2009

Missouri Department of Insurance reminds parents to review their insurance policies before sending kids to college

Jefferson City, Mo. - Sending a child to college can be an emotional and trying time. Remembering to pack everything a student will need while away from home is a challenge - and so is understanding your changing insurance needs. 


Health insurance


Most health insurance policies cover dependents who are full-time students. Generally, a student must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours per semester.  Individual policies differ, so check with your health insurer or benefits administrator about how the policy defines a full-time student and the maximum age of coverage.  However, in Missouri dependents can be covered under your health insurance policy until the age of 25, as long as they are not married or qualify for another group employer health insurance plan.  Questions concerning eligibility can be directed to our Insurance Consumer Hotline 1-800-726-7390.


Know your policy


Before leaving home, make sure your student has a copy of the relevant insurance cards. If you are insured by a health maintenance organization (HMO), check to see if your student will be outside the HMO service area while away at school. If this occurs, the student likely will have coverage for emergency care, but might have to travel to a physician or hospital within the HMO service area for routine care. Check your plan provisions or speak with your insurer to find out what level of benefits are provided by your policy.


Student health insurance plans


If your student's healthcare coverage is limited by the network service area, another option is a student health insurance plan. These plans are sold by an insurer that has contracted with a college to offer coverage to its students. In general, these plans have more limited benefits and more exclusions than traditional health insurance plans. Many policies also will exclude routine examinations and injuries sustained while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


Renter's insurance


Many students bring thousands of dollars worth of personal items - such as electronics, a computer, textbooks, clothes, furniture or a bicycle - with them to school. Many homeowners policies cover students' belongings, but only if they live on campus. Check with your insurance agent to see if your child's property will be covered. If not, you might consider renter's insurance to protect your student's property in the event that it is damaged, destroyed or stolen.


A home inventory


A comprehensive list of your student's possessions -  including purchase prices, model numbers and serial numbers - will help you decide how much renter's insurance your student will need. It's also a good idea to have a detailed inventory in case of disaster, as it will help you file an insurance claim following a catastrophe. Make sure to take photos or video of the possessions, and store the list in a secure, off-site location. Parents should also keep a copy of the list and photos.


To download an easy-to-use home inventory checklist visit


Auto insurance


A significant move away from home can have a big impact on your auto insurance policy. If your student is taking a car to school, check with your agent about the existing insurance policy. Ask about the rates for the college's city and state before deciding whether to keep your student's car on the family's auto policy. In addition, check to see if your insurance company offers a discount for students who maintain good grades.