As students prepare for college, most parents are occupied with details like buying books and moving them from home to a school dorm or off-campus housing.
But with fall semesters in full swing this month, agents should remember to guide parents on the most important factor of all: the safety of their child.
Helping parents understand what constitutes “responsible living” during their child’s college years is a significant value-add agents can offer their customers. When parents have this knowledge, they can empower their kids to avoid situations in which they may be injured or injure others—situations that can easily lead to implication in a lawsuit.
Consider this real-life example: A university senior rented an off-campus house with other classmates and hosted a party on the fourth floor. During the party, a guest fell through an opening in the floor that had been covered by the classmates, sustaining serious, long-term injuries. The injured party initiated a suit against the owners of the house, who then also sued the students. By the end of the case, a settlement exhausted virtually the full policy limits of all involved policies.
When agents advise on risks, offering smart mitigation strategies and proactively assessing insurance needs in advance, they give parents much-needed peace of mind. Because students can be sued directly and as third parties, the first step is helping parents set sufficient limits for liability coverage. Generally, many parents choose a $1 million liability limit, but that may not be enough to protect the student or parents.
If the student is residing off campus, agents should advise parents:
- that the landlord may only be obligated to insure the property occupied by the renters—not the renters themselves, nor their possessions.
- to conduct a walk-through of any property prior to move-in day and photograph any problems.
- to talk to their children about reporting in writing anything that breaks or is rotting on the property.
If the student is residing on campus, agents should advise parents:
- that if students fail to comply with resident regulations, they may be responsible in the event of accident or injury.
- that property coverage must be in place for the student’s belongings.
Some parents might want to consider purchasing a separate renters policy for their child, for reasons including high homeowners deductibles, encouraging responsible behavior in the child or avoiding being the impact from claims that result from a child’s risky behavior. If the student is insured under their parents’ policy, agents should help parents evaluate whether their insurance policy will respond under specific scenarios—this is a low-cost way to cover their children.
Most parents want an insurer that will offer broad coverages and high liability limits when it comes to protecting their college student. But not all insurers are alike, and agents can counsel parents on what differentiates them, such as identity theft protection and optional coverages. Agents should also check parents’ policies for age limitations for students—some policies cease coverage at different ages or require a child to be in school full-time in order to qualify for coverage.
Parents’ homeowners policies can easily be implicated in a loss. Agents must become the go-to-resource for educating parents with college-bound kids.
By Christie Alderman, new product and services manager for Chubb Personal Insurance.