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Young Drivers: How to Handle Car Insurance for Your Child at College

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How To Handle Car Insurance For Your Child At College

It might seem like the decisions connected to sending your child off to college are endless. Which school to select? How to pay for it? What classes to take? What will they need for school while living away from home?

While your child might be the one heading off to a new adventure and learning experience, as their parent, you’re likely feeling the brunt of the decisions and even responsibilities.

One consideration often tussled over between parents and young drivers is how to handle a car at college. Should your child have a car at college? What will that mean for car insurance?

With a full plate of expenses related to college, you might be wondering about paying for auto insurance for your college-aged child. Can you remove them from insurance? Should you?

Read on to learn all you need to know about auto insurance and your college student.

Auto Insurance for Your College Student, Things to Know

As you ponder your college student and their driving while they are away at college, there are a few things you should know about how insurance companies view this situation.

Most college students maintain their primary address as their parents’ address. This is important for a few reasons. Parents continue to claim children who are in college on their taxes. This means they continue to be a liability that is significant for insurance purposes.

Any driver with only a few years of driving experience is considered a high-risk driver. This can impact the insurance rate, even for college students. More on ways to save later.

Do you know how those good grades are important to you? They can also be important for car insurance companies. Good grades can be connected to showing responsibility. Being responsible in one area of life can also mean that a sense of responsibility is shown in other areas, like when they are driving.

Finally, while it might feel like your child is moving away, things will never be the same. They do continue to come back home and drive your cars. Coverage for them remains important.

Important Considerations for Keeping Your College Student On Your Policy

While you’re facing many expenses related to college, you might be looking for ways to save money. You might even consider taking your young driver off your policy while they’re away at college. Before you do that, consider the bigger picture.

As was already mentioned, college-aged students often remain dependents. For this reason, you assume the risk they create, including when they’re driving.

If your child is ever involved in a car accident, a savvy insurance attorney can show them as a dependent of yours. You assume their liability. This can be catastrophic for you if you don’t have them covered under your insurance policy.

Auto Insurance When Your Child Attends School Nearby

Have you managed to convince your teenager ready to declare their independence to attend college close to home? Maybe they have opted to continue to live with you while attending college.

If they continue to live with you and commute to their college, you must keep them on your policy just like in high school. They need the same coverage.

Even if they opt to live on a nearby college campus, they’re more likely to be home visiting more often and using your cars while they do it.  If they take a car with them to college, that car needs coverage too.

Auto Insurance When Your Child Attends School Far Away

So, does anything change if your child is attending college far away? The truth is not really. They may opt to take a car with them to get back and forth from home. They are still likely to come home for breaks and vacations and want to drive.

If there’s any chance, they will drive someone else’s vehicle while away at school or drive a rental car, and you want them to remain covered.

Having said that, they are less likely to be driving because of their distance from home than those students close to home. Be sure to ask your insurance agent about the distant student discount, which could save you some money.

Most insurers will recognize that a student who is far away at college without their car presents a lower risk than one who is close to home. They have fewer opportunities to drive than someone who goes to college close to home and can come and go as they please.

Most insurers who offer a distant student discount will have a certain mile limit for a distance before offering the discount. They may also ask for proof that your student is actually living away from school.

Ask About Good Students Discounts

Most college students who are still on the payroll of their parents know they are expected to get good grades. If you’re making a big investment in higher education, you want the good grades to show they are actually learning.

Guess what? Your auto insurance company also thinks it’s pretty important. There is a good correlation between responsibility and good grades. The insurer presumes that the same sense of responsibility is translated to when your college-aged student drives.

Remember, most college-aged drivers are considered high-risk drivers. So showing they are responsible lowers the risk. Because of this, many insurance companies will offer good student discounts on their auto insurance coverage. This can give your student some even greater incentive to get those grades, especially if they help pay the premiums.

Again, you may be asked to verify grades to score good student discounts.

College Students and Sharing Cars

There are a few things to consider with students who have access to cars. Everyone wants to be their friend so they too can have access to the car.

You want to establish some clear rules for your student if they take a car to campus. Car insurance follows the car, not the driver. So, if your student loans out their car to someone else and there’s an accident, your insurance is responsible. You take on the liability for any damages or injuries the driver of your car causes.

So, if the insurance follows the car, not the driver, do you need to worry if your student drives someone else’s car? Yes, you still want them covered. Since you don’t know what coverage that car has, if any, you want to make sure your student is covered.

You can get your student what is called a non-owner auto policy. This covers them as drivers for any vehicle they drive, even if it’s not one of yours. This type of policy provides liability coverage that would protect them, and you, in the event of an accident.

Car Insurance Mistakes When Kids Go to College

As your student starts college and starts paying tuition, you already know that saving wherever possible is extremely important. There are a few mistakes some parents make related to auto insurance as their child starts college. You don’t want to make those mistakes yourself. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Common Mistakes for Parents

As soon as you can show your child is a good student, you have the grades to back it up, and you should be asking for a good-student discount. Life can get busy, and you can settle into paying for all the college-related expenses. Make a note to call your insurance agent as soon as you can show quality grades and ask for a good-student discount.

Another mistake some parents make is to opt to drop the coverage on the car left at home by their student, assuming they won’t drive anymore. As you have already read, you want to keep that car covered. Your child will be home on vacation and want to drive and take that car to school.

No matter how responsible your child has been up to when they go to college, please don’t make any assumptions about how they will behave when on their own at college. Have an open dialogue about rules related to the car and its use.

As students declare their independence from you, you may find them not making all the same safe choices they made under your roof. Provide guidance and regular reminders of your expectations.

You also want to establish clear rules with your child about who is allowed to drive their car. They need to understand it’s about liability and insurance coverage, not you just clipping their wings.

Finally, not all insurers are the same when it comes to coverage. While the time before you send your student off to college can be busy, be sure to take the time to get quotes and compare rates. You might be surprised by some savings by shopping around.

Other Insurance Needs for Your College Student

While you’re shopping for insurance discounts, be sure to consider what other insurance your child may need while away at school. They will likely need some other types of coverage while at college.

Renter’s Insurance

Often while in college, students (and you) become renters for housing. Your student lives in a rented apartment or house while on campus. While the building they live in will need insurance from the owner, it won’t cover your student’s belongings.

If something happens, that causes damage or loss to your student’s belongings, and you want them covered. Talk to your agent about renter’s insurance to make sure they have their belongings covered.

Health Insurance

While away, you want to make sure your student continues to have health insurance coverage. Investigate their current coverage to see if it will cover them while away at school. This might be especially important if they are attending school in another state. There are several options for health care coverage to consider. These include:

  • Using parents’ plan for coverage until the age of 26
  • Seeking coverage through the college or university
  • Employer coverage if they also work while in school
  • Using the Affordable Care Act marketplace to get coverage

When looking at health care coverage, you want to consider what your student’s needs might be while away and make sure whatever plan you choose provides you coverage while they are away.

Life Insurance

While surely you don’t want to imagine needing life insurance for your child, it may be both smart and, in some cases, required. If your student gets student loans and you have co-signed for them, you would be responsible if the worst happens.

Some student loans even require some type of life insurance coverage to get the loan.

Get Your Questions Answered

As you send your child off to college, you’ll have so many questions. Here are the most common ones you’re likely to have about auto insurance.

Is My Child Covered to Drive My Car When They Come Home for Weekends and Breaks?

Perhaps they are covered. Remember, the coverage goes with the car. Your auto insurance company will expect you to have your student on the policy if they are driving when home.

How Long Can a Child Stay on Parents’ Car Insurance?

Unlike health insurance that caps out at age 26, there is no limit on how long a parent can cover their child with auto insurance. Many students will stay on their parents’ policy while they work their way through college. Once they are independent, they might opt for their own plan.

This might be especially true if they buy their own home and want to bundle coverage.

Should College Students Have Their Own Auto Insurance Policy?

You want your car and your student covered. Often it makes the most sense to keep them on your policy while they are in school. As a potentially high-risk driver, they can likely get better rates while covered with you.

If they might be driving a car that is not yours while away at college, you might consider the non-owner policy to make sure you’re both covered from any unfortunate liability in case of an accident.

Can Parents Keep Auto Insurance on a Car Located in Another State?

If the student’s primary address is still with the parents, then they can cover it in another state. You want to make sure your policy meets the state’s requirements where the car will be. Not all state requirements for coverage are the same.

If the car stays in that state, you might also find you can get a lower rate by insuring it in that state. Remember, one mistake parents make is not to shop around for rates.

When Can I Drop My Student Down to an Occasional Driver?

This might be allowed if your child is attending a school that is far from home, and they aren’t likely to drive much. Ask your insurance agent for their rules on distant student discounts.

What You Need to Know for Your Young Drivers Heading Off to College

There are so many things to consider when sending your college-aged student off to school. Young drivers create unique challenges for coverage, and you want to make sure you’re both protected.

For information about covering your college-aged student, we can help. We want to make sure the whole family, no matter where you’re driving, has the coverage you need. Contact us today to get more information about your coverage needs.

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