TRENTON, NJ – As students prepare to return to or attend college for the first time, insurance issues, understandably, are not always foremost in their minds. New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Ken Kobylowski today reminded students that their insurance needs can change when they attend college and provided some tips to make sure they have proper automobile, property and health insurance coverage.
“Insurance plans may be far from most students’ and parents’ minds as they finalize their to-do list and start to pack for college,” said Commissioner Kobylowski. “However, college students should review their insurance coverage needs and make any needed changes before they start school.”
Personal Property and Liability: The property of students who live on campus is generally covered through their parents’ homeowners policy. Students should inform their parents of any major purchases, such as a new computer or TV, so those can be included on the homeowners policy.
Students who live in off-campus apartments should consider renters insurance. This is an inexpensive type of coverage that protects personal property and insures apartment dwellers when someone visiting is hurt. Renters insurance premiums can cost as little as $15 per month, depending on the location and size of the rental unit and the value of possessions.
More information on renters insurance can be found here: http://www.state.nj.us/dobi/division_consumers/insurance/renters.pdf
To properly evaluate the coverage needed, and to ensure replacement in the event of a loss, students should make and maintain an inventory of their belongings. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a free smartphone app that can walk a consumer through creating a home inventory.
The iPhone version of the app can be found here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/myhome-scr.app.book/id414273863?mt=8
The Android version of the app can be found here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.naic.scrapbook&feature=search_result
A hard copy of the home inventory checklist is here: http://www.insureuonline.org/home_inventory_checklist.pdf
Auto: Students need to let their insurance agent or company representative know if their vehicle is going to be stored at an address different than the listing on the policy. New Jersey requires auto insurance coverage. The amount of mandatory coverage is often much lower than potential loss exposure should a student become involved in an accident. New Jersey also requires a minimum level of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage which is medical insurance for those injured in an auto accident.
Students who own their own vehicles will need a policy in their name. However, if a student’s parents’ name or names are on the title, the student may be able to remain on their parents’ policy.
Students who want to cover damages to their car will need comprehensive and collision coverage. Collision coverage repairs damage caused by hitting something or when someone hits a person’s auto, while comprehensive coverage is for nearly everything else, such as hail damage or hitting a deer.
In the event of an auto accident, the NAIC has made available WRECKCHECK, a free app available on Android and iPhone operating systems, that walks accident victims through the process of gathering pertinent information immediately after an accident. It is also important to know what information not to share, such as details that include a home address and phone number which could lead to identity theft.
WRECKCHECK can be found for Android here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.naic.android.wreckcheck&hl=en
It can be found for iPhone here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wreckcheck/id543290503?mt=8
Health: Many colleges automatically enroll students in health insurance plans offered by a health insurance carrier through the university. Auto-enrolled students can opt out of the college-issued plan by showing they have other coverage.
Most students can remain covered by their parents’ group health insurance policy until they reach age 26. If the health insurance policy is issued in New Jersey, State law allows young adults to remain covered by their parents’ group policy until they turn 31. Additional eligibility conditions and premium costs will apply.
Coverage of dependent children is no longer limited based on whether the child is financially dependent on the parent, residing in the parent’s household, or a full-time student. The young adult may remain covered through his or her parents’ plan even if he or she marries.
Students purchasing their own health insurance in place of the health insurance policy that may be offered through their school should shop around to find the best price, understand the cost of all deductibles and co-pays, make sure the hospital, doctor or other health care provider they wish to use is part of the provider network and check the Department’s website for information on providers and costs at: www.dobi.nj.gov/ihc<http://www.dobi.nj.gov/ihc>.
For more information from the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, call 1-800-446-7467 or go online to: www.dobi.nj.gov<http://www.dobi.nj.gov/>.