Auto and Property Insurance for College Students: What You Need to Know
Ensure your student has the auto and property coverage they need before starting college.
It may seem like only yesterday that you were waving goodbye to your kindergartner. Now, in what feels like the blink of an eye, you’re preparing to send your child off on a new academic adventure — college.
As a parent, keeping your child safe is as important today as it was when they started elementary school. And while many families focus attention on securing health insurance for their college students, there are other types of coverage to consider, especially when it comes to cars and personal property.
Auto insurance and young adults
Sending your child off to college is a big transition. Sending your child off to college with their own car is an even bigger one. Although your child has been driving for a few years, it doesn’t hurt to review together the dangers teen drivers face before they head to school.
For instance, the National Safety Council’s teen driver statistics and more recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that motor-vehicle crashes continue to be the number one cause of preventable death for U.S. teens. Major factors contributing to crashes include distracted driving, inexperience and speeding.
At the same time, thanks to more digital connections and the availability of ride sharing services, fewer teens are learning to drive. Thus, many Gen Zers start college, a military career or a first job with far less experience behind the wheel than their parents, grandparents or older siblings.
Consequently, they may not know how to handle some driving situations, especially treacherous ones in extreme weather with which they are unfamiliar (e.g., blizzards or hurricanes). Plus, as they navigate a new or less-familiar city, they may more easily become distracted by confusing exits, directions or traffic patterns.
Any or all of these factors could contribute to a simple fender bender or a more costly or tragic accident. So it pays to double-check your auto policy — just in case.
When it comes to auto insurance coverage and your college-aged child specifically, however, there are some key things to consider. Typically, full-time college students may stay on their parent's auto insurance policy if their primary address is also the parent’s home. A variety of factors may still impact their coverage needs — and premiums — including where their school is located and where the car will be parked. With good grades and a solid driving record, discounts may be available.
Is your student headed out of state for school? Be sure to review your policy with a knowledgeable insurance agent, someone who can help you navigate how such a move could impact coverage.
Remember: Even if your child isn’t taking a car to college, you’ll want to consider keeping any licensed, college-bound children on your auto policy. Here’s why:
- When your student returns for holidays and summer breaks, they will need vehicle coverage.
- While they’re away, your child may also need to drive someone else’s car to run a quick errand.
- Or they may volunteer to serve as a designated driver during an evening out with friends. Although the car owner's insurance arguably should cover any expenses related to an accident, it may be wise to have your own policy as a secondary coverage option.
Naturally, if your student owns the vehicle or holds the title, they are responsible for their own auto insurance. In this case, and assuming they’re budget-conscious, you may recommend that they have their current coverage reviewed by an insurance agent. There may be ways that they can save money while still maintaining an optimal amount of coverage.
College students, personal belongings and homeowners insurance
As much as we hope it will not occur, property theft does happen on college campuses and at off-campus dwellings. That’s why it’s also smart to ask an experienced insurance agent to review whether your current homeowners policy extends coverage to your student’s belongings.
Some homeowners policies can extend 10% of your property’s coverage to your child’s personal items in their dorm. This means that if you are covered for $200,000 in personal property coverage, your child’s belongings are covered up to $20,000.
However, if your student’s $400 tablet is stolen, you still might have a policy deductible of $500-$1,000. Again, an insurance agent can review your existing coverage to see if it meets your family’s evolving needs.
As with the need to speak frankly about driving, it doesn’t hurt to talk with your student about strategies to keep their stuff safe.
The Insurance Information Institute suggests a few steps you can take to protect your college student’s belongings before they leave for school, including:
- If possible, leave valuables at home.
- Create a “dorm inventory” together so that you both know what belongings are with them.
- Engrave electronics with a name and phone number and be sure to activate any digital tracking options to help locate an item if it disappears.
Eventually, most college students decide to swap on-campus residence hall life with off-campus apartment living. When that happens, you may wish to consider purchasing renters insurance.
Typically, a basic renters policy is sufficient but, again, an insurance agent can help determine if extra coverage is warranted, especially if your child owns any expensive electronics, jewelry or sports equipment.
Most renters insurance will be adequate to protect your student’s belongings from:
- Weather events (e.g., tornadoes)
A renters policy may also provide liability coverage if another person gets hurt in your child’s apartment or has their personal property damaged.
As with driving and protecting belongings, it can be helpful to review key safety features of a rental unit with your student, such as the presence of fire sprinkler systems, smoke alarms (with working batteries) and an emergency evacuation plan.
Questions? We’re here to help.
At RBFCU Insurance Agency, we want to help you explore coverage options so that you and your college student can feel confident moving into the school year.
To learn more about auto and personal property coverage options, request a quote or have us review your existing policy for added peace of mind, reach out to us today.
Information in this article is general in nature and for your consideration, not as financial advice. Please contact your own financial professionals regarding your specific needs before taking any action based upon this information.
RBFCU Insurance Agency LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of RBFCU Services LLC. RBFCU Services LLC is affiliated with Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union (RBFCU). Insurance products are not deposits; are not obligations of the credit union; not NCUA insured; and not guaranteed by RBFCU Insurance Agency LLC, RBFCU Services LLC or RBFCU.
The following sources were accessed May 2023.
“Teen Drivers.” Injury Facts, 17 Apr. 2018, https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/road-users/teen-drivers/.
“Teen Driving.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving.
“Teen Distracted Driver Data.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813315.
“Why Aren’t Teenagers Driving Anymore?” Washington Post (Washington, D.C.: 1974), The Washington Post, 21 Feb. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/parenting/2023/02/21/teens-not-driving/.
“Protecting Your College Student from On-Campus Losses.” iii.org, https://www.iii.org/article/do-i-need-insurance-child-going-away-college.