Grads: Don't Forget About Insurance
Madison, WI— Many students have been covered by parents' insurance policies while they are in school especially health, auto, and renter's insurance. Most students may face losing coverage once they are living independently.
"When you're young you don't always feel that you need insurance," said Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel, "but insurance is important to financially protect you from unpredictable events. As young adults leave home and college, they should make sure they have auto insurance and health insurance but they should also consider renter's insurance to protect their property. Protecting yourself with insurance ensures that you don't make a bad situation worse."
Insurance may seem complicated, but being prepared and a few simple steps can make it much simpler.
- Shop around - Wisconsin has one of the most competitive insurance markets in the nation, and that is good for consumers if you shop around. Both price and coverage may vary, so the best deal may not always be the cheapest price.
- Read your policy - You need to know what your policy covers before you have a claim. Ask your agent or company representative any questions you may have.
- Finding an agent - For many consumers, using an agent makes the purchase of insurance much easier. To find an agent, ask your parents, friends or co-workers for recommendations. Look up the agent at oci.wi.gov to make sure the agent is licensed, which companies they represent, and whether or not they have any administrative actions.
- Call your agent - If you have a claim or are having a problem with your insurer, call your agent. They can often assist you in better understanding your policy and making sure you are taking the right steps in filing your claim.
If you cause an auto accident, you may be responsible for the losses of all other people involved in the accident including medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. The amount of money you may have to pay could be substantial. Auto insurance can help protect you by covering these losses.
If you are driving a car that your parents own, you should still be covered under their insurance policy. But if you buy your own car, you will need an individual auto insurance policy. Likewise, if you ride a scooter or a motorcycle, you should ask your insurance agent for more information about motorcycle or moped insurance.
Remember, anyone operating a motor vehicle in Wisconsin is required to have a motor vehicle liability insurance policy in place and to provide proof of coverage if asked by a law enforcement officer. Drivers may be asked to produce evidence of liability coverage if they are pulled over for a traffic violation or if they are involved in an accident.
There have been changes to auto insurance laws in recent years. OCI has a list of frequently asked questions on its Web site that provides more information about current auto insurance requirements and the changes to come this fall. The questions can be viewed at
Renter's insurance is typically overlooked by young adults striking out on their own. Like homeowner's insurance, renter's insurance provides coverage for the loss of property from risks like fire, explosion, vandalism, theft and other perils. Many policies will also provide temporary living expenses if your apartment is inhabitable.
If you are renting, you need to be aware that your landlord's insurance only covers the building - not your possessions.
Under federal law, adult children up through age 26 will be permitted to remain on their parents' health insurance plan under certain conditions.
An individual who does lose his or her eligibility for coverage as a dependent under a parents' group health insurance plan may still have the right to continue group coverage for a period of time under the federal COBRA law. You can find more information on COBRA at
If a student wishes to purchase individual coverage, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandated a number of changes to health insurance, including offering tax credits and subsidies to those who are eligible. You can determine your eligibility online at
For more information on health insurance please see OCI's Federal Healthcare Law, Frequently Asked Questions for Consumers, at
Last Minute Notes
There are many resources available to you if you have questions about obtaining insurance coverage. One option is to contact a licensed insurance agent or insurance company. You can also contact OCI with any insurance questions, concerns or complaints at 800-236-8517.
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.