College campuses will soon fill with students and families making the college trip for the first time, the Freshman arrival of the Class of 2026.
This transition from child to adult is exciting, emotional, and dangerous.
Do you remember the 18th birthday your child celebrated in the past year? Eighteen changes everything.
Along with them being away from home, are you ready to handle the idea that you are no longer your child’s legal guardian, and are you sure that the insurance coverage you have in place is adequate?
What do you need to accomplish before your child goes to college?
Protect Your Child and Your Sanity: your to-do list as a parent
First, realize that your 18-year-old child is now an adult, and you are not their legal guardian.
The 2:00 AM Phone Call
“Brooke” (not her real name) was in college nearly 6 hours from home. Late one night, her parents received a phone call from “Brooke’s” roommate.
“Brooke” was in a car crash and was taken via ambulance to the hospital.
Mom immediately called the hospital and was told that she needed to fax her HIPPA release and Medical POA to the hospital for them to be able to have a conversation.
She did not have those documents, and the 6-plus-hour drive in the middle of the night was incredibly stressful.
With a phone call like that at 2:00 AM, the protective alarms of being a parent immediately go off, and you are searching for ways to “take care” of your child.
If you are ill-prepared, do not be surprised if you get stonewalled while trying to get information since your child is an adult.
You NEED the following three documents for your child who is over the age of 18.
Adult children use their parent’s health insurance policy until age 26; most families rely on that insurance when their kid goes to college. But check to see if your coverage may be limited to emergency services if your student goes to college in another state. Even if your plan allows for out-of-network care, you’ll probably have to make much larger co-payments if the network doesn’t extend to the college area.
Contact your insurer if your child goes to a college more than 100 miles away and doesn’t take a car. Your premiums can drop significantly, but they will still have coverage when home for the summer or vacations. If your child takes a car to school, your insurance costs will rise or fall depending on the location.
College kids show up at school with much more than a big bag full of T-shirts and jeans. They also bring a slew of electronics—computers, printers, smartphones, iPads—that can be expensive to replace. Your homeowner’s insurance will generally cover students’ possessions if they live in a dorm and may provide coverage if they’re in an off-campus apartment, as long as their primary residence is still your home. The rules vary a lot by insurer; most require your child to be a full-time student under age 24.
If your insurer doesn’t cover your child’s off-campus apartment, or if you’d like higher coverage limits, consider a renters insurance policy. That generally costs just $150 to $200 per year. If your kid has roommates (who aren’t related), each person needs to get a separate renters policy.
Take the time to address these; your peace of mind might be slightly better while your child is off at college.
Have any other questions about sending your kids off to college or how to plan your savings for sending a child to college?