A large number of Alberta’s universities are looking forward to welcoming their students back on campus for the first time in a year and a half. That means that there are actually two years of first-year students who may not have ever stepped foot on their campus, and there are a lot of emotions involved. There’s the excitement of being in a new environment combined and making steps towards the next phase in life. But there’s also the trepidation involved with not knowing quite what to expect and not having the same trusted close contacts around you.
There’s a lot to think about when starting up in the post-secondary world, including what school to go to, what classes to take, whether or not to live on campus, and so on. Insurance is often way down on the list of things to think about for the average university student. Insurance considerations depend on their age, their living situation, which institution they are attending, and whether or not they own a vehicle.
Are my child’s belongings covered while they are away?
The good news is that your home insurance policy will provide some coverage for your child’s belongings while they are away, provided they are under the age of 26 and as long as your home address remains their primary place of residence. According to a Statistics Canada report of 2010, the average age of the university or post-secondary student in Canada is 22.8 years and 24.8 years at graduation, which means that the vast majority of undergrads can be covered through their parents.
You’ll want to take a close look at your policy, however, as quite often it will only cover your child’s belongings up to a specified amount (usually $10,000). The cost to replace computers and other electronics, as well as sports equipment such as bikes, plus artwork, clothing, and jewelry, can easily add up to exceed that amount. Increasing this limit might be a good idea, however some insurance companies may only offer this option if your university student is living in an on-campus residence.
Anytime your life situation changes enough to have you review your policy in detail is a good time to call in the expertise of an insurance broker. We work for you, not the insurance companies, and know exactly the right questions to ask to ensure we find you the very best policy to suit your particular set of needs.
My child is living in residence. Do they need tenant insurance?
If your university student will be living in residence on campus, whether or not they need separate tenant insurance is dependent upon where they are attending. Some universities and post-secondaries require that students have their own, standalone tenant policy, while others may only require coverage for a student’s belongings. Additional coverage (such as liability) is often included in their fees.
Be sure to read the guidelines and policies for your child’s specific post-secondary residence thoroughly, and consider purchasing a separate tenant insurance policy regardless of their coverage through their residence. Tenant insurance is a relatively low-cost type of insurance that will keep your child protected and also keep any claims off of your own home insurance policy.
If your child is going to be living off-campus, a tenant insurance policy is an absolute must. We often see up to $50,000 worth of coverage and $1 million in liability for less than $200 a year. It’s important to keep up this coverage even when your child is back for the summer, as they’ll build a history for themselves as a claims-free customer and begin to earn savings.
My university student will be driving their own vehicle
Young adults have a lot of hoops to jump through when it comes to getting their license, but when they finally get through their probationary period and become a full Class 5 driver they are free to hit the road whenever they like. A university student often needs a vehicle to get to class, work, and back home again, and if they are going to be the primary driver you will need to remove them as an occasional driver if that is how they are currently insured. Again, this is a great time to consult an insurance broker such as us at Lane’s. We can help find the ideal car insurance policy for your university student that will fully protect them.
One incentive you could remind your child of is that students with good grades often qualify for an insurance discount.
My university student won’t have a car
It’s a good idea to keep your child on your policy even if they are not driving your vehicle while away at school as this will allow them to maintain continuous coverage, which looks good to insurance companies. The longer they have been insured and accident-free, the better it is for their rates.
Some car insurance companies offer discounts for parents of students who are away from home, which will save you some money plus allow them to maintain their coverage and still drive your car when they are home.
What about my university student’s health care coverage?
A question parents often have when their child heads off to university, especially to a different province, is whether they are still covered under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Program (AHCIP), to which every Albertan is subscribed. In this province, single dependent children up until the age of 21 can remain on their parent’s AHCIP account, and if they are a full-time student at an accredited academic institution they can stay on until they are 25 years old.
Many universities and post-secondary institutions also provide coverage, which is supplementary to AHCIP in the same way as a Blue Cross, Sun Life, or other private health insurer might do. Have your student check their fees for this, as sometimes the costs are automatically included. If they are still covered under your own private health insurer through you (and they may stay so up until age 26), they may not need the coverage provided through their school’s plan. It could also prove to be extremely helpful, depending on circumstances. It’s wise to have a close look at the terms and ask questions if needed. If there is no benefit to keeping the additional coverage, it should be quite easy for your student to opt out.
Questions? Concerns? Talk to the pros at Lane’s
Lane’s Insurance is a leading Alberta-based brokerage, with caring and knowledgeable professionals who always work in your best interests. If you have any questions about insurance for students, or if you have any concerns about your insurance coverage in general, the friendly experts at Lane’s will be happy to help. You can rely on your broker for the professional service necessary to help you make a smart, educated decision. Contact us at our Calgary, Edmonton, Banff and Alberta offices.