CHICAGO — It's inevitable that something will be forgotten in the excitement of sending a child off to college.
Tuition bill paid?
Insurance taken care of?
Insurance needs are often overlooked in the last-minute scramble. But relying on existing coverage — or a lack of it — can end up costing families during the college years and perhaps beyond.
Parents don't need to buy all kinds of additional insurance as they pack the kid off to college. But they had better at least review their coverage to know whether they're prepared for that stolen iPad, trip to the emergency room or worse.
A look at key considerations for different types of insurance:
Many colleges and universities require health insurance. Most parents can meet that by keeping their children on their plan, which federal health reform allows until age 26.
If the college is in another state, it's important to check your plan's network of preferred doctors and hospitals extends there. Otherwiseb the highest level of coverage may not be available.
School-sponsored health plans usually cost hundreds of dollars per semester. Many also place dollar caps on coverage, as well as require that most care be provided through the student medical center. These options are best-suited for the many 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.
Car insurance is an area where families can actually save money.
Premiums may be reduced by 10 percent to 20 percent if the student attends a college more than 100 miles away and doesn't take a car. And, car on campus or not, some insurers also offer a "good student discount" for those who maintain a B average or higher.
Even if they might not qualify for either discount, parents should inform their insurance company that a student on the policy will be relocating. It's good to keep insurers in the loop on such moves. Depending on where the college is, the cost could go up or down.
It's not unusual for students to have thousands of dollars of electronic gadgets and other belongings in their dorm rooms, from laptops and videogame systems to bicycles and musical instruments — all popular targets for theft.
Such items typically are covered by the parents' homeowners or renters insurance if stolen — minus the deductible, of course. But coverage varies, so inquire about any policy limits.
Taking a photograph of each expensive possession can help ensure receipt of its proper replacement value if it's stolen.
To protect against items being lost, or for extra coverage with a lower deductible, renters insurance is available for usually about $150 to $200 a year. Deductibles can be as low as $50 or $100.
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