Posted on Aug 31, 2012 8:53am PDT on R Rex Parris Legal Blog
This is the time of year when parents are doing last-minute preparations for sending their kids off to college. Here at R. Rex Parris Law Firm, we've seen our share of our colleagues' children make the big leap to college—many of them either taking a car with them, or commuting by car to an in-state school.
But finding out whether, or not your college-age student will be fully protected under your automotive insurance doesn't require a big leap of faith. It just needs some due diligence on your part by taking a look at your car insurance policy.
In most cases, coverage for your student will extend beyond your home to wherever they may happen to be studying. But our attorneys here at R. Rex Parris Law Firm remind you that benefits and limits can vary among insurance providers, so you have to check with your carrier.
Most parents will put their driving students on their automobile insurance policy unless, of course, the college-age driver decides to buy her own car. In most cases, however, the student will be granted limited use of one of the family cars, and thus is put on the family insurance policy as a named driver and rated against one of the vehicles in the family 'fleet.'
For the student—who may contribute towards his share of the monthly cost—it's far more cost effective than acquiring, and insuring his own car.
Our attorneys point out that the insurance industry is regulated according to the state in which you live. And benefits will vary according to the individual carrier within each individual state.
State Farm, for example, currently has a feature that extends coverage to a student named as an existing driver on your policy who attends college at a distant location—whether she takes a car with her, or not. Knowing that your student will no longer be driving one of your vehicles on a regular basis because she is away studying, State Farm grants a reduced rate for as long as your student remains at university. If it's a four-year program, the revised rate remains in force for four years. That rate doesn't change when she comes home for the summer and resumes driving your car.
Additionally, our attorneys at R. Rex Parris Law Firm remind you that even though your student may not have one of your cars on campus, she may drive someone else's car on occasion while she is away. Or she may have to rent a car. In most cases, she will be covered by your car insurance policy as well—but again, check with your carrier.
One caveat we should point out—and that is what happens if you grant your student the use of one of your vehicles at the college or university. First, it would have to be the vehicle she is rated against. Second—and this depends on the carrier—there may be a change to the insurance rate depending upon where your student is studying.
As an example, you may reside in a sleepy hamlet somewhere, with minimal traffic—and your vehicle rates reflect the mitigated accident risk. However, if your student winds up taking one of your cars to San Francisco or Boston, New York or Atlanta, there's a possibility that rates will be adjusted to reflect the increased risk given the higher population and traffic—together with the higher risk for an injury claim, or the potential for car accident injuries.
So be prepared for that possibility.
Finally, your student should have some coverage for contents in the event of a fire, or theft. She may be taking the old microwave with her from the basement, and the old office chair—and if you never see them again, it's no great loss. But your student will also have a laptop, a printer and other peripherals, textbooks, clothes and other valuables that add up.
What about liability? The good news is that your home insurance and liability coverage may well extend to your student while he's off studying. But at the end of the day, undertake due diligence with your carrier and find out just what—and what you're not—covered for…