CHICAGO — It’s inevitable that something will be forgotten in the excitement of sending a child off to college.
Tuition bill paid? Done. Textbooks ordered? Check. Shopping completed? Yep.
Insurance taken care of? Oops.
Insurance needs are often overlooked. But relying on existing coverage can cost families during the college years and beyond.
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A look at key considerations:
*Needing a doctor: Many colleges and universities require health insurance. Most parents can meet that by keeping their children on their plan, which federal law allows until age 26.
If the college is in another state, check your plan’s network of preferred doctors and hospitals.
School-sponsored health plans usually cost hundreds of dollars per semester. Many also place caps on coverage, as well as require that most care be provided through the student medical center. These options are best-suited for students whose parents don’t have health insurance.
An alternative would be an individual health-insurance plan. A student should be able to obtain a policy that costs no more than $150 a month. Check prices at Internet-based insurance provider eHealthInsurance.com or StudentHealthPlan.com.
*Driving a car: Premiums may be reduced if the student attends a college more than 100 miles away and doesn’t take a car. And some insurers offer a discount for students who maintain a B average or higher.
Parents should inform their insurance company that a student on the policy will be relocating. Depending on where the college is, the cost could go up or down.
*Covering electronics: It’s not unusual for students to have thousands of dollars of gadgets and other belongings in their dorm rooms. And they are popular targets for theft.
Such items typically are covered by the parents’ homeowners or renters insurance if stolen.
A photograph of each expensive possession can help ensure receipt of its proper replacement value if it’s stolen.
Renters insurance is usually available for $150 to $200 a year. Deductibles can be as low as $50 or $100. Anyone living off-campus will need to get a separate policy, as will each roommate.
*Leaving school: Tuition-refund insurance is a means of getting money back if the student withdraws from college — generally only for documented medical reasons or because of the death of the student, parent or guardian.
Parents may want to think about it if they’re paying for an expensive school without financial aid, or if the child has a serious medical condition.
Another option is through Sallie Mae, which provides $5,000 of annual tuition protection to borrowers. It also sells the insurance separately.
*Term life: It might sound overly cautious, but without it, parents who co-sign for tens of thousands in loans will owe the amount they co-signed for if their child dies. It’s possible to get a $100,000 policy for a student for less than $100 a year.
*Traveling: Travel insurance can help cover costs of a semester abroad marred or lost because of illness, accident, theft or other setbacks. Among the travel insurers to consider are Travel Guard, Global Alert and Travel Safe.