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Taking Insurance to College

Question:

My son (daughter) is leaving home to attend college this fall.  Will my auto and homeowners insurance policies cover him (her) while at college?

Answer:

This is a great question, and one that our customers ask frequently.

When college students move from home to their home-away-from-home – a rented dorm or apartment – insurance issues can arise and should be addressed before they leave home.

One key question that arises in discussing these issues is whether the student is still considered a resident of your household.  This is a legal question, but your homeowners and auto policies both contain provisions that apply the broadest coverage available in those policies to persons who are legally considered residents of your household.

It is generally accepted that students living away from home while attending college are residents of their parents’ household. Based on previous Texas court decisions, the real test is whether the absence of a person from the household is intended to be permanent or only temporary – whether there is physical absence coupled with intent not to return. This leaves a great deal of room for interpretation. There may be borderline cases that require you to think about alternatives. For example, it may be difficult to consider a 23-year-old graduate student living in an apartment year-round to be a resident of your household.

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What is an umbrella liability policy and why do I need one?

An umbrella liability policy is a relatively inexpensive way to purchase higher liability limits for you and your family, above and beyond the limits provided in homeowners and auto liability policies. In addition, most umbrella policies provide coverage for liability claims not covered by other policies, subject to a small self-insured retention. Umbrella policies got their name because they provide excess limits in increments of $1 million above more than one underlying policy. Any individual or couple seriously concerned about protecting family assets and earning power should consider an umbrella policy. Accidental tragedies resulting in multi-million dollar lawsuits are far too common to rely solely on basic policies.


This article was prepared and made available to your agent by the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas, which is solely responsible for its content. Please read your insurance policy. If there is any conflict between the information in this article and the actual terms and conditions of your policy, the terms and conditions of your policy will apply. The Independent Insurance Agents of Texas is a non-profit association of more than 1,500 insurance agencies in Texas, dedicated to helping its members succeed, in part by providing technical resources that explain insurance policies sold to their customers.