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Shipping Your Kid Off To College

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1All Kinds Of Insurance

If you’re shipping your child off to college, chances are you’re not thinking too much about your family’s insurance policies. But somewhere between shopping for the hot pot and paying that tuition installment, you should. To make sure your child is protected while away from home, reviewing your auto-, homeowners- and health-insurance policies is a must. In some cases, additional coverage may be required. While in others, you may be eligible for new discounts.  I’ll give you a checklist of insurance policies that you should look closely at. Also, I throw in some cost-saving tips… because, well… that’s what I do here.

2Have You Checked Out College Dorm Rooms Lately?

These days, kids come equipped with a lot more than just a bean bag and a few posters. Dorm rooms are packed with pricey laptops, stereos, mp3-players, mountain bikes and more. Should something happen — like a fire or theft — replacing these items could cost you a bundle. The good news is, your homeowner’s insurance probably will cover the items taken to school. Most policies offer possessions coverage for items removed from the house, including anything Junior takes to college. That said, there may be coverage limitations, and should your policy not cover these items, it’s obviously best to know before disaster strikes. So check what’s covered and what isn’t.

3Every College Parent’s Favorite Subject

Auto Insurance.  Regardless of whether Junior will or won’t take a set of wheels– to college, you need to have a chat with your auto-insurance provider. The good news: If your kid is leaving the car at home, you may have some savings coming your way. Most insurance companies offer sizeable discounts, provided the student attends a college that’s 100 or more miles away from home. If, on the other hand, your student is taking a car to school, you need to inform your insurer where it will be parked, since location is an important factor in determining insurance rates. Just how a child’s move to college will affect your premiums depends on where you live now and where your child is heading.

4Health Insurance

At the start of the school year, students are given the option to enroll in their college’s health plan. Typically, this coverage doesn’t come cheap. The average premiums range from 800 to $1,400 for the academic year. If your child is already covered by your health insurance, this is an unnecessary expense.  Most family health insurance policies do cover full-time students, and if yours does, it’s almost always better to go that route. Be sure to check in advance what local options are available to your child. In some cases, you may find that doctors at the school’s health center are included in your plan. In others, you may find that your only option is to purchase the school’s policy.

5Tuition Insurance

Parents of college-bound kids are often pitched tuition insurance, which promises to reimburse their tuition payments if their son or daughter drops out of college in certain circumstances.  The policy doesn’t cover you if Junior flunks out because of bad grades. It also excludes causes like war and acts of terrorism, use of drugs and even — as gruesome as it sounds — suicide. So only look at tuition insurance in very limited circumstances, such as if your child is very ill and you think it may cause her to drop out of school. Well, more again on Monday.  And get packing! School’s right around the corner.

I've been an investment strategist and adviser for over 35 years, leading with a mission of unbiased advice to educate and protect listeners on my weekly radio show on NPR affiliates nationwide. I have been named a “Top 100 Wealth Advisor” by Worth Magazine and “Top Advisor” by Reuters.