Get ready for back-to-school season

By Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready

After a long year of remote learning, hybrid models and constantly changing guidelines, many parents and students are looking forward to going back to school.

As a parent of three college kids myself, I know how exciting this is for both students and parents. However, leaving home without proper insurance coverage could spell financial disaster and put your student at risk.

Here are some insurance coverage tips that parents and their students should look at before heading off to college.

• Home – Suppose your student is moving into a dorm room. In that case, your homeowners policy will likely cover their belongings in case of a loss. Just ask your child to let you know if they buy a new computer or other pricey items. You’ll need to check with your insurance company to ensure your coverage will take care of these things.

Students living off-campus should consider renters insurance. This coverage will protect your child’s belongings and insure you if someone is injured on the property.

Premiums for renters insurance range between $15-$30 a month, depending on the location and size of the rental unit and the value of the possessions.

No matter where your student lives, a home inventory is a good idea. The list of items will make a future insurance claim quicker and easier to settle.

• Auto – Oklahoma requires every car to have auto liability coverage or otherwise meets the financial responsibility requirements of Oklahoma law.

Auto liability insurance pays for property damage and bodily injury to someone else if you are found responsible for an accident, up to the policy’s limits.

If the title to the car is in your student’s name, they will have to have their own policy. If your college student is driving a car you own, your child can likely stay on your policy.

Suppose your child is heading to college without a car. In that case, you might be eligible for a “student away at school” car insurance discount. Check with your insurance agent or insurance company and let them know where the car will be stored if the address is different than what’s on the policy.

• Health – Students have several options for health insurance coverage while away at college.

If your children are covered under your insurance now, chances are they will still be covered while away at school. Any insurance plan that offers dependent coverage must make that available until the dependent is 26 years old.

Before they head off to school, make sure your student has a copy of your insurance cards and knows what doctors, hospitals and pharmacies are covered within your network.

Many colleges and universities also offer their own student health insurance plans. The premiums and features vary widely from school to school. Check with your student’s school health center to see what coverage options are available.

The transition from remote or hybrid learning to new “normal” life on campus in the time of pandemics can be challenging and overwhelming for students.

However, having the reassurance that the proper coverage is in place will make the transition go smoothly.

I also encourage parents to ask their insurance agent if they are eligible for any discounts. Let the insurance agent know if your student has good grades. Most auto insurance companies will offer a “good student” discount for a B average and higher or other criteria.

For more insurance information, please contact the Oklahoma Insurance Department at 1-800-522-0071 or visit our website at www.oid.ok.gov.

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