Will car insurance cover my child away at college?
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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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College is a time of transition, not only for students but also for parents and other family members. In many ways, college students are adults; they have not fully made the transition into living independently, however, especially not in the first few years of their schooling. Car insurance is one thing many parents may not know how to handle. By taking the time to understand how your policy applies to your family members, you can make the best choice in coverage for your family.
Can I add my child to my car insurance policy?
Generally, anyone who has frequent access to your vehicle should be added to your car insurance policy as a permissive-use driver. Most car insurance companies will automatically extend coverage to all members of a household, but some do not. Adding a driver to your policy also allows that individual to file a claim and discuss claim information with the insurance company, which would otherwise not be allowed.
You can add anyone to your policy. Additional drivers do not have to live in your household or be related to you. Any person who has access to your vehicle can be added as a driver on the policy, and if that access is frequent you will definitely want to add that individual.
Be aware that anyone listed on your policy will have an affect on your rates. Young drivers are more expensive to insure than those over 25, and individuals with a history of traffic violations or accidents will cause your rates to increase as well. If your child has caused a major increase to your insurance rates, you might want to make other arrangements for your policy.
For example, you might consider moving the vehicle your child frequently drives onto another policy, and excluding him from the policy including the rest of your cars. This will help lower the cost of your main policy. If you choose to do this, however, be sure that you never allow the child to drive the vehicle he is excluded from.
Why should I add my child to my coverage?
If your child has a vehicle with him in college, you are probably paying for the insurance on that vehicle anyway. In that case, you can maintain the policy the same way you did when the child was in high school, by adding the vehicle to your existing auto policy and listing the child as a driver.
If your child doesn’t have his own car, or if he owns his vehicle outright and pays for his own insurance, you may still want to add him to your policy. The reason for this is that if the student comes home during summers or holidays and drives any of your own vehicles, you would want to know that any accidents would be covered.
While most insurance follows the vehicle regardless of the driver, an accident caused by an unlisted driver can cause claims processing delays and may lead to a claim denial depending on the insurance company. You should never allow someone to drive your car unless you know a claim would be covered in the event of an accident.
There is another important reason to add your child to your insurance policy: first-party medical coverage. If your policy includes medical payments coverage or personal injury protection, that coverage will apply to any resident relatives or listed drivers on the policy. This type of coverage is unique in that it follows the insured in any vehicle he or she might be driving, as well as paying for injuries sustained as a passenger or pedestrian.
If your child is injured as a passenger in a friend’s car or hit while a pedestrian or bicyclist, your first-party medical coverage will cover any injuries that he sustains. This coverage applies as long as the child is a resident of your household and is included under your policy.
Whether your child drives any of your vehicles or not, adding him to your auto insurance policy just to take advantage of first-party medical coverage is a wise idea. When he obtains his own auto policy for a vehicle he owns, he can purchase that coverage for himself and maintain coverage against all vehicle-related injuries.
It’s always a good idea to take the time to understand how your car insurance coverage applies to your vehicles and family members in your home. If you have any questions about adding your child to your insurance, you can contact your car insurance company or local agent to discuss your options.