Your child may not have the auto insurance coverage you think they do while away at school.
Sending your child off to college requires a lot more than just making sure they have the right bedding and all of their books in order. You also need to consider what your new college student means for your auto insurance coverage.
The first question your auto insurance company will ask you when your child goes off to college is if they are a “family member” as defined in your policy. In order to be defined as a “family member,” your child has to be related, by blood, adoption, foster child or marriage, to the named insured, as well as living in the household of the named insured. When your college student meets these requirements, they will have coverage under their parent’s automobile insurance policy.
The parent’s policy provides Liability coverage under Part A – Liability for ownership, maintenance or use of any auto. Any auto includes a vehicle owned by parents and a vehicle owned by others, subject to policy terms, conditions and exclusions.
However, your child may be driving more than just your car while at college. It is not uncommon for a college student to borrow a friend or roommate’s car, which could open the door to tons of issues. Typically there is an exclusion of liability coverage for the maintenance or use of a vehicle furnished or available for the regular use of a “family member”. A roommate’s vehicle would likely be considered furnished or available for the student’s regular use. In this situation the student would have no liability coverage. Instead, the insurance policy of the vehicle owner would provide coverage, however they might carry only state minimum limits which could be an issue as some insurance companies attempt to exclude or limit coverage with state minimum limits. It is important to make sure the college student knows the risks that are associated with borrowing a vehicle while away at school.
Keep in mind each insurance policy is slightly different, so make sure to talk with your insurance agent to see just how much protection you have.