Insuring Your Child’s Property While Away at School

Sending a child off to college is a big day for a family, one that shouldn’t be ruined by concerns about whether the valuable items your child is taking to school are insured.

When sending your college-age child off to school, he or she usually takes along a computer, television, stereo, DVD player, clothing, possibly furniture and other items. Unfortunately this leaves many parents questioning whether their homeowners insurance protection will cover the items while they are out of the home.

Relax! The good news is that most homeowners insurance policies will provide coverage for personal property located away from the primary residence, such as with a child at college. However there are coverage limitations that parents must consider:

  • Does your child meet the definition of a “full-time student” as defined by the school? If not, the child may no longer meet the definition of an “insured” under his or her parents’ homeowners insurance policy. Some homeowners policies grant “insured” status to students only if they are considered full-time students by the school they are attending. It is important for your child to tell you when there are any changes to their enrollment status.
  • Is your child on the “seven-year” plan? Many homeowners insurance policies extend coverage to a full-time student living away from home provided he or she is under a certain age. Once that age is eclipsed, the policy will no longer consider the student an “insured”, thus expiring the policy’s duty to pay claims on his or her behalf. Check your policy to determine if there is an age limit restriction.
  • What about coverage limits? There are coverage limits for property that is located away from the insured’s primary residence. For example, a homeowners insurance policy may provide $50,000 in personal property coverage, but limit that coverage for property located “off-premises” (away from the primary residence) to only 10 percent of that amount.
  • Certain types of property such as electronics, collectibles, high-value jewelry and other valuable items may have separate coverage limits that are significantly lower than the normal personal property coverage limits. Review these limits with your insurance agent to determine if additional coverage is necessary.

Having adequate insurance is the best defense against a loss that could otherwise taint your child’s college years, so review your coverage today, before your son or daughter heads off to school.