COLUMBUS, Ohio — Classes are starting soon and Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor wants Ohio parents to make sure their children headed to college have adequate insurance protection.
“As students prepare for school to start, setting aside time to review insurance can easily get overlooked,” Taylor said. “It’s important that parents talk with their agent to ensure their student(s) is financially protected.”
Taylor provided these tips about health, renter’s, auto and identity theft insurance for parents when reviewing their student’s insurance needs.
Most health insurance policies cover dependents until the age of 26. In Ohio, fully insured and public employee plans may cover a dependent to age 28. Policies differ, so check with your health insurer or benefits administrator about the age limitation on your coverage.
Know what’s in the policy, and make sure the student has a copy of the relevant insurance cards and knows about obtaining referrals and approvals (if necessary) before seeking treatment.
If insured by a health maintenance organization (HMO), check to see if the student will be outside the HMO service area at school. If this occurs, the student may have coverage for emergency care, but might have to travel to a physician or hospital within the HMO service area for routine care.
If the insurer is part of a preferred provider organization (PPO), the insurer may pay benefits at out-of-network levels if the student is outside the network. Check the insurance plan provisions or speak with the insurer to find out what level of benefits is provided by the policy.
If the 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. Check with the student’s school to compare rates and plan benefits.
Renter’s Insurance vs. Parent’s Homeowner’s Insurance: Many students bring personal items with them to school, such as electronics, textbooks, clothes, furniture and a bicycle. Whether students are living on or off-campus, it’s a good idea to review homeowner’s policy to see whether the student’s personal items will be covered.
If the student is younger than 26 years old, enrolled in classes and living in on-campus housing, homeowner’s policies will likely extend to the belongings they take with them.
However, if the student is living off-campus, talk with an insurance agent about whether the homeowner’s coverage will extend to the rental property. If it does not, parents might want to consider renter’s insurance to protect their student’s personal property.
Documenting possessions with a home inventory will help make sure there is enough coverage to fully protect and more easily replace valuables.
A paper home inventory template is available at www.insurance.ohio.gov. Make sure to take photos or video of the possessions, and store the inventory in a secure, off-site location.
The free myHOME Scr.APP.book app allows families to easily archive personal possessions.
If the student is taking a car with them to school, check with an agent about the existing 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. In addition, the insurance company should be notified each semester if the student maintains good grades. Maintaining a certain G.P.A. might make students eligible for a “good student discount.”
As a college student, children may be more vulnerable to identity theft because of the availability of personal information and the way many students handle this data. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States.
Identity theft insurance cannot protect families from becoming a victim of identity theft and does not cover direct monetary losses incurred as a result. Instead, identity theft insurance provides coverage for the cost of reclaiming a 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.
Check to see if the homeowner’s policy includes identity theft insurance, and ask an agent if this extends to the student living away from the primary residence. If not, parents might be able to purchase a stand-alone policy from another insurer, bank or credit card company.
If the student is renting an apartment, ask if their renter’s insurance covers identity theft, or if it could be added to the policy.