School is in session. Your first homework—check your insurance.
Madison, WI—Commissioner Ted Nickel encourages students who are moving on to further their education after high school via technical schools or college to review their insurance needs.
"Signing up for classes and buying your books is important," said Nickel, "but so is making sure you're adequately covered by insurance." Nickel continues, "Students should keep in mind the importance of having the right type of auto, renter's and health insurance before they need to access the coverage because of an unexpected event."
Moving on to college or vocational/technical school is a major life event and it is important for students and their parents to check to see if they will still be covered under their parents' health, auto and homeowner's insurance or if they need to obtain their own coverage.
If you are attending college, the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) offers a short brochure entitled
Insurance 101: A Guide to Insurance Basics for College Students, which offers tips on what to think about before embarking on the journey to college. If you're heading out into the workforce, check out OCI's consumer publication page which provides links to publications on all types of insurance needs, from life insurance and annuities to health and property insurance.
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. The law prohibits law enforcement officers from stopping a motorist to only verify insurance coverage. Verification of coverage may only be requested if a motorist is stopped for another reason, such as a traffic violation.
If you are driving a car that your parents own, you should still be covered under their insurance policy. However, 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 moped insurance.
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. The questions can be viewed at
Renter's insurance is typically overlooked by young adults striking out on their own. "I cannot stress enough the level of protection and peace of mind that renter's insurance can give young adults," said Nickel.
If you are moving into a dorm, your possessions may still be covered under your parents' homeowner's policy. But, if you live in an apartment, you need to be aware that your landlord's insurance only covers the building—not your possessions. Renter's insurance is usually fairly inexpensive and covers all of your belongings if they happen to be stolen, burned or carried off by a tornado.
Under the federal Affordable Care Act, adult children up through age 26 will be permitted to remain on their parents' health insurance plan under certain conditions. Coverage may even be continued beyond age 27 if an adult child returns to school on a full-time basis after being released from active duty in the National Guard or a reserve component provided that the adult child was a full-time student and under age 27 when called to federal active duty.
An individual who does lose his or her eligibility for coverage as a dependent under their 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
Many colleges and universities offer student insurance. Make sure to read the policy carefully.
Individuals are able to buy coverage through the private market (either inside or outside the health insurance exchange) on a guaranteed issue basis during open enrollment or when a special enrollment period is triggered.
Last Minute Notes
- Read your policies.
- Shop around; it pays.
- Check on the OCI Web site to see if an agent or company is licensed before doing business with them.
- Call your insurance agent or company when you are having a problem.
Consumers should consult with an independent agent for answers to all their insurance questions. Independent agents have the ability to work with multiple companies to find the right policy to fit everyone's insurance needs.
For more information about insurance for recent graduates, you may contact OCI at 1-800-236-8517 or by writing to OCI, P.O. Box 7873, Madison, WI 53707-7873. You can also visit our Web site at oci.wi.gov for valuable consumer information like the publication Insurance 101: A Guide to Insurance Basics for College Students or OCI's consumer publication page.
Created by the Legislature in 1870, 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.