|Sending a student away to college is the bridge between childhood and independence. I need to avoid being the cobbler with no shoes, because for the first time I will have a child in college. As I prepare myself for the transition I have complied a list of important issues to consider beyond course selection, checking accounts and living arrangements. Even if the student had previously been away at boarding school, these issues are relevant, because being away at college is very different from boarding school. At Chartwell Insurance Services we call these the “quiet” issues that don’t always make the standard recommendations sent by the welcoming colleges or the farewell messages from high schools.
Insuring the possessions of college students
The homeowners insurance policy of the parents will typically extend to the possessions of their students while in a college residence hall, however the deductible on the parents’ insurance policy will likely exceed the value of their student’s “stuff”; if it doesn’t then either the deductible is probably too low, or the student has too much “stuff.” Parents should be discouraged from filing a claim on their policy for items that are lost or stolen from the residence hall. Such claims will adhere to the policy, and could compromise future renewals. We often recommend the purchase of College Student Renters Insurance . This is a low-cost policy underwritten by Allianz Insurance that protects most possessions, and covers them against the perils of flood, earthquake, theft and burglary and fire. There is also $5,000 identity theft expense included with no deductible applied.
Off-campus housing and liability to parents
If the student moves out of the college residence hall and into off-campus housing, a new set of issues arises:
Power of attorney for health care and financial needs
Students over the age of 18, even though unable to legally drink in the United States, have the exclusive right to privacy over their health care, their grades and their financial records. What many parents often don’t realize is that if their student is injured or taken ill while away at school, hospitals and doctors are legally prevented from sharing health information to anyone without a medical power of attorney. Usually a power of attorney naming the parents and signed in the home state will apply even if the student is away in another state but there are exceptions, so parents should check on this. A durable power of attorney is necessary for access to bank records, grades, social media, and email accounts. Without this, parents may have to resort to the courts for access to these records, a time-consuming exercise that may be overwhelming in an already stressful situation. Sitting down with your student to discuss the reasons why assigning parents or a trusted adult the power of attorney is also an occasion for a life lesson. At some point in the future the roles may be reversed and the parents may be asking their student to be their power of attorney. See the article from Financial Advisor for more information.