Meet the Class of 2013 – wired, hip … and hopefully adequately insured

Each August since 1998, as millions of freshmen prepare to embark on their college years, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, which provides a look at the cultural environment that has shaped the lives of those students. For those of us with a few more years under out belts, the list can be startling. For the Class of 2013, “… Carter and Reagan are as distant to them as Truman and Eisenhower were to their parents. Tattoos, once thought “lower class,” are, to them, quite chic. Everybody knows the news before the evening news comes on.”
For this year’s freshmen, Martha Graham, Pan American Airways, Michael Landon, Dr. Seuss, Miles Davis, and Freddie Mercury have always been dead. Smoking has never been glorified, books have always been available on an electronic screen, and wars have always unfolded on TV in real time. We’ve given you a sampling of the data points, but the entire list makes for some fun reading. You can also check back to 1998 for archived lists.
Some things never change
While the cultural zeitgeist might change, one thing never changes: Parents want to ensure that students are safe and secure while away at school. As your students head off to school, it’s important take steps to ensure that they are adequately covered by insurance and make sure they understand the coverage and benefits that are available to them. If your student will be living away from home, you should ensure that they have emergency contact numbers and that they know how to report a claim if a loss or accident occurs. Some of the insurance coverage issues you need to consider include:
Health insurance – Will your student be covered under your policy or will you need to arrange coverage? Many family policies will cover full-time students but you need to check how the insurance company defines full time. Also, check your plan’s benefits, coverage area, and coverage requirements. If your student is an athlete, check coverage limits – you may need to arrange for additional coverage.
Auto insurance – Will your student have a car full-time at their college? If so, they may need their own policy. If not, you may be able to save money on your policy if they are only using your car intermittently. Ask if any “good student” or “safe driver” credits are available to your student – availability may depend on the state and the insurance company.
Personal possessions – Theft is the most common crime on college campuses. If your student will live in a dorm, personal possessions may be covered under your existing homeowner’s policy, but if they are living in an apartment, they may need rental insurance. Don’t assume that the college or the landlord will have coverage that will encompass your child’s possession in the event of fire, theft, or loss – check your homeowner’s policy to learn the extent of your coverage – you may need additional insurance if your student has expensive electronic equipment.
Of course, these are just the basics. There are other issues like ID theft, credit cards, life insurance, and more. Remember, many insurance matters are state-specific and governed by state laws. Often, state insurance bureaus offer consumer alerts so check with your state’s website.
Here are more resources to help you plan for the insurance needs of your college students:
College Insurance Needs – issued in 2008 from the Massachusetts Division of Insurance
Parents: Know your insurance policies before your student goes off to school – a 2009 Consumer Alert from the Kansas Insurance Department
College-Bound? Keep an Eye on Your GPA and Your Personal Possessions – insurance advice and safety tips from the Insurance Information Institute
What Your College Student Needs to Know about Identity Theft – a Consumer Alert from the National Association of Insurance Commisioners
Heading Off to College With an Empty Wallet? – tips for managing money while away at school from the Insurance Information Institute
College Athletes Often underinsured
College Health and Safety Tips
Campus Safety Tips

Frequent insurance question: I’m not covered? Why not?

This post was written by Pat Long of Eldredge & Lumpkin Insurance Agency

There’s been more than one occasion when a customer called or visited to report a claim, and I have had to tell them they are not covered. Talk about a very uncomfortable conversation!
Insurance is an intangible; you don’t need it until you need it. You pay premiums, sometimes high premiums. And often you never use the coverage. So, when you have a claim under homeowner’s insurance, auto, liability, or worker’s compensation, you want it covered, right? Then why are some claims not covered by insurance?
Policies as Contracts
An insurance policy is a legal contract between you, the insured, and the insurance company. You sign the application and pay the premium, and the insurance company sends you a policy. All policies define who the insured is, and they tell what the company is willing to cover. But sometimes coverage and claim do not match.
These are specifically noted perils that the company will not cover. For example, some homeowner’s policies exclude coverage of flood damage. Many people in Louisiana did not understand this when Hurricane Katrina hit. You can purchase a separate flood policy, but flood damage is not covered by the basic homeowner’s policy.
These are general rules or procedures that the insurer and insured agree to follow, under the contract. When you sign the application and pay the premium, you agree to these conditions. For example, did you know you have duties after a loss? In order to claim a loss, you need to promptly notify the insurance company or agent; some policies have specific notification deadlines. If you have theft coverage, you’re required to notify the police. If a tree falls on your home and opens a hole in the roof, you must protect the property from further damage and make reasonable and necessary repairs to protect the property. Most policies require you to cooperate with investigations and settlements. If you don’t meet these conditions, the insurance company can deny the claim.
So what’s the best way to make sure you are properly covered? Simply think about what is important to you:

  • Do you worry about cost of health care when you get older?
  • Are you concerned about your 16-year-old son or daughter driving?
  • Have you inherited an heirloom and wish to pass it on to your family?
  • Do you have an older home with systems that no longer meet state requirements?
  • As a business person, have you just signed a contract to build three more homes?
  • Do you have an office in your home?

Ask your insurance agent how best to cover what is important to you. Taking a proactive approach to insurance may avoid the discomfort of the “you’re not covered” discussion.