Date: September 7, 2012
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Use Your Insurance Knowledge to Prepare for College
Madison, WIThe start of the fall semester is upon us. Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel suggests taking time to focus on insurance coverage now will provide protection and peace of mind for college students and their parents.
"I know this time of year is frantic for students and their parents," said Nickel. "But insurance provides important health and financial protections, and I urge them to take some time to consider insurance options for their college bound students."
Current law requires that children who are 25 years of age or younger can remain on their parent's health insurance policy. College attendance is not required to maintain coverage on a parent's health plan. In some instances, members of the National Guard or Reserves who were under age 27 and attending school when called to federal active duty and who return to school afterwards can be covered on their parent's plan regardless of age. Some policies, known as "grandfathered health plans," may have additional limitations relating to coverage for dependent children. Additionally, if the health plan is a defined network plan, there could be additional costs for health care services received by students while attending school outside of the plan's network. Nickel urges students and parents to review their policies to determine which type of policy they have and the potential costs that families will face.
If a student is not covered by a family insurance plan, there are other options. Many universities carry group student health insurance plans for which students are eligible. However, health plans offered by colleges and family insurance plans may require that students be enrolled full-time as defined by the insurance policy.
If neither a family plan nor school-sponsored plan is available, college students should strongly consider buying an individual health insurance policy. Paying health insurance premiums now ensures coverage for unanticipated accidents or injuries and ultimately may save money later.
For students who choose to drive to school, remember that in Wisconsin, like in 48 other states, auto liability insurance coverage is required to operate a vehicle. Students attending school in Wisconsin should be aware that this coverage requirement also applies to motorcycles, mopeds, and scooters.
Research into auto insurance for students can result in discounts and more suitable coverage that better fits the circumstances. For example, parents may be eligible for discounts if the student is more than 100 miles away and does not have a car.
Students moving to dormitories or apartments should consider whether to purchase renter's insurance to protect themselves from theft of their possessions or fire. Renter's insurance also covers personal liability, which means it will pay for damages caused by the renter, renter's family or pets.
In some cases, students who are dependent children may still have their possessions covered by their parents' or guardians' homeowner's insurance policies. Checking the policy and with the insurance agent before any loss or accident occurs is the best course of action.
Certain items, such as stereos, jewelry, computers and other personal electronics, may require special additions to a renter's policy. Students should make sure any unique or expensive items are covered in the general policy language. A list of coverage is located on the Declarations Page of the renter's insurance policy, and a list of special limits on coverage normally is located in the personal property section, Coverage C.
Commissioner Nickel recommends that parents and students review the OCI publication Insurance 101 - A Guide to Insurance Basics for College Students for more information on insurance and college life. This publication as well as other useful OCI publications, such as Consumer's Guide to Insurance, Fact Sheet on Continuation and Conversion Rights in Health Insurance Policies, Consumer's Guide to Auto Insurance, Teenagers and Auto Insurance (opens in a new window) and A Brief Guide to Renter's Insurance, can be ordered free from the agency by writing to OCI Publications, P.O. Box 7873, Madison, WI 53707-7873, calling 800-236-8517 or visiting the OCI Web site at oci.wi.gov.
Created by the Legislature in 1871, Wisconsin's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) was vested with broad powers to ensure that the insurance industry responsibly and adequately met the insurance needs of Wisconsin citizens. Today, OCI's mission is to lead the way in informing and protecting the public and responding to its insurance needs.