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Insurance Issues in College

Renters Insurance
Car Insurance
Finding An Insurance Agent Or Company

Despite the importance of health insurance at all stages of life, it is often on aspect of college life that students do not take into consideration.

Many states have requirements that make all college students have health insurance. The Massachusetts Universal Health Care Act, for example, requires all college students in three-quarter (nine credits per semester) to full-time enrollment to participate in a qualifying health insurance program.[1] Students typically have two choices when it comes to choosing a health insurance plan: their family plan or one through their college.

Here are some things to consider when purchasing insurance through your schools:[2]

  • Is the plan an HMO, or can I use any health provider?
  • What services are offered free or low-cost in the campus health center?
  • Is the campus health center open 24 hours? How is it staffed?
  • Are emergency room visits covered in all situations or only in specific situations?
  • Does the plan cover me when I am on vacation (i.e. spring break)?
  • Does the plan cover me during the summer if I'm not taking any classes?
  • Are hospitals in the college area accessible and utilized?
  • Does the plan include mental health treatment?
  • What preexisting conditions are excluded?

A factor to consider when deciding to stay with your family's health insurance plan is how long you can remain insured.  Some will allow any full-time students to remain on their parents' plan until they graduate; some provide a post-graduation grace period, while others require you to pay more once you move out of state. The only way to know for sure what your plan stipulates is to contact your provider.

Besides Health Insurance, there are other types of insurance that college students and recent college graduates will need to consider.[3]

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Renters Insurance

Renters insurance is a form of a homeowners policy that protects your belongings from problems like fire and theft. For instance, if your new suitemate drops your stereo or her friend just happens to take it home with her, to another country, your landlord's insurance will not cover the cost to replace it. This is where renters' insurance comes in.

Renters insurance is similar to car insurance in that it covers, up to a certain amount depending on your policy, your liability for damages that you or members of your family (including that pesky kitten you love so much) may inadvertently cause to other people. 

There are two types of renters insurance: replacement value and actual cash value.

  • Replacement value replaces the damaged item with another one of the same kind according to current prices.
  • Actual cash value is replacement cost minus depreciation, which means you will get less money than it will cost to replace the item.

When purchasing renters insurance, be sure you find out about coverage limits for items like computers, televisions and jewelry as you may need additional coverage for more expensive valuables.

When you move into a new apartment, especially if it is with people you don't know well, it is a good idea to take an inventory of everything you own in the apartment. One way to do this is to take pictures to document specific items and models. Don't keep the pictures in your apartment, though. Give them to your parents to store, or put them in a safety deposit box at the bank. Should something happen to your belongings you will be glad you have proof of what was lost or damaged.

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Car Insurance

Many college students decide to buy their first cars during or immediately after college. One thing many new-car buyers do not consider is the high cost of insurance. It is important to calculate this added monthly cost to the amount you will pay for the car, as it can become a real financial burden.

REMEMBER -- If you can't afford the insurance, you can't afford the car.

Here are a few suggestions for reducing the cost of your car insurance policy:

  • Consider purchasing a low-profile car. If no thief in his right mind would want to steal your junker, your policy will be significantly lower. (No one needs to know about what's under the hood, in this business it's looks that matter most.)
  • Raise your deductible.
  • Install anti-theft devices.
  • Drop collision coverage if it's an older car.

Also, as with any expensive purchase, prices may vary from insurance company to insurance company so it may pay to shop around.

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Finding An Insurance Agent Or Company

Ask around. Your friends, co-workers, boss, parents, or relatives may have great suggestions for inexpensive but effective insurance plans. Almost everyone changes providers at one point or another so asking these kinds of questions may provide you with a breadth knowledge that you would not find elsewhere.

Contact your state insurance department for information about agents and companies in your area. Many state insurance departments also have cost comparison surveys that will make the legwork easier.

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[1] Adapted from

[2] Adapted from

[3] Adapted from

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This website is an information resource center and does not provide medical advice.
Information from website should not be a substitute
for medical advice from a health care professional.