By Commissioner Troy Downing
Back to school. Music to the ears of many parents, but for parents sending their kids to college, this likely has a special ring to it. As a parent of four, I understand the bittersweet feeling of being an empty nester.
You send your kids out into the world excited they’re becoming their own person, while still being protective and worried about them. Besides giving your kids advice and occasionally (or likely more often than you would like) sending them money, there is one significant thing you can do to protect your kids in the real world. Moving your children out of the house without proper insurance could spell disaster that could follow them the rest of their life.
As you prepare your kids to live independently, here are some insurance tips every parent should know.
Nothing is more important than protecting your child’s health:
We all do ill-advised things when we are young. The fact of the matter is young people are much more likely to injure themselves doing something that probably “seemed like a good idea at the time.” Having health insurance is a must for your children. If your health insurance plan covers dependents, you can keep your child on your plan until they turn 26 years old. If your health plan does not cover dependents or you’re uninsured, many colleges and universities offer student health insurance plans. Individual plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace may also be an option. Make sure to check what coverage is available and consider your child’s health needs. Ensure they have a copy of their insurance card when moving away from home and know which doctors are in their network. Just as important, make sure you, your spouse, or a trusted family member or friend is listed as an emergency contact with their school.
Planning for accidents, mistakes, and bad luck:
Fires, floods, and all sorts of accidents occur every day. But, it may be more likely when your child is living on their own for the first time. A fire after forgetting to change the dryer lint trap or pipes bursting after looking to save on heating costs are common mistakes that can lead to loss and damage to property. Whether in an apartment or dorm room, your child should have renter’s insurance. Even if they’re moving out with just a laptop, guitar, and duffel bag of clothes, it’s worth purchasing renter’s insurance. Typically, premiums are just a few dollars a month when combined with an auto policy.
If your child isn’t a bad driver, one of their friends is:
Many students go to college without a vehicle, but in Montana, having a car or truck is likely a necessity if your child is working a part-time job, living off-campus, or coming home on weekends. Young drivers are statistically more likely to be involved in a car accident. Make sure your child has proper levels of auto insurance coverage, and make sure they understand what is covered under their plan. For example, their vehicle will likely not be covered if they let a friend drive. If they’re driving Uber or renting their car out on a rental car platform like Turo, there are usually specific personal insurance requirements, for instance, maintaining liability insurance, and getting a specialized rideshare policy that may only be available through the ridesharing or rental car platform.
Sending your children out into the real world can be scary but taking steps to ensure they are appropriately covered when an issue arises can protect their future and help you sleep better at night. If you have questions about insurance for your children, go to CSIMT.gov/Insurance or contact our team at 444-2040.