Understanding Legal Topics for College Students as a Parent
A lot of people are getting ready to send their kids off to college. It will be the first time that most of them will have been away from home with little or no supervision. There are many things you must take into account when you are sending your kids away to school. In a previous article, we discussed durable power of attorney and healthcare proxy to understand how to legally be able to make decisions for your adult child should anything happen to them while they are away. In this article, we will discuss college students and car insurance.
Car Insurance for Students Away at College
A common concern when sending a child to school is whether or not they are taking a car with them. In a lot of cases, mostly for insurance purposes, the college student will be on the parent’s auto insurance. As the owner of the car and the subsequent insurance policy, you are responsible for any damages that occur as a result of an accident with that car.
One thing to remind your child, whether you own the car and insurance policy, or your child does, is that the owner of the car is responsible for the car regardless of who is driving. If you are the owner of the car, you need to explicitly deny your child the ability to let others use the car. As the owner of the car, you should get this in writing. If they own a car, they need to be sure not to allow anyone to drive the car other than themselves.
College students tend to take car ownership lightly
In college dorms, it is not uncommon for people to leave their keys out with the implied consent to allow roommates or dorm-mates to take the car to run errands, go to class, etc. You may know your child is a good and conscientious driver, but you do not know who else is driving the car. Additionally, you do not know their skill level of driving or if they are into any activities that would put the car, lives, and property at higher risk leaving you or your child with a lawsuit on your hands.
Here are some ways to protect yourself from automobile liability legal issues:
- Coverage: Most importantly, make sure you have sufficient coverage. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure your coverage is up to date, have sufficient SUM coverage; and ensure that the insurance carrier is aware that the car is being used by the child at school.
- Education: Make sure your child is aware of what his or her responsibility is when it comes to having a car at college. The vast majority of accidents can be avoided solely through education.
- Monitor the car: Trust but verify. There are car monitors that track speed, distance, hard braking, etc. Look into these systems for your child’s car. Many newer cars already have this technology built into them, check the owner’s manual or contact the dealer for more information.
- Umbrella Policies: Place your child’s college residence on your insurance policy. In some cases, you may be able to add your child’s residence on your homeowner’s and umbrella policies. Check with your insurance carriers for the options available.
- Car Registration: If possible, register the car under your child’s name. At 18 years of age, your child is an adult and can own a vehicle. If the car is under your child’s ownership, laws imposing vicarious liability do not apply. In a lot of cases, coverage for a college student is extremely expensive. You will need to look into costs and weigh your options.
Can I take my college student off my car insurance?
Remove your child off your car insurance policy if:
If your child is not taking a car to college and will be living on campus, it may make sense to consider removing your child from your insurance policy. Your annual car insurance costs could drop from $1,000 to $2,500.
If you remove your child from your car insurance, make sure to properly educate your child to not drive any cars. Inform your child that if he or she drives a friend’s car while away at college, they will most likely not be covered by insurance.
Keep your child on your car insurance policy if:
If your child will be bringing a vehicle to college, or they are commuting to a nearby college, you should consider keeping them on your car insurance policy.
Find the Best Car Insurance for College Students
College student auto insurance coverage tends to be more costly with higher premiums. Don’t worry though, there are companies out there that offer discounts.
Here is an overview of companies and how they could work for your situation:
- Liberty Mutual: Car insurance discounts for students under the age of 25 years old who maintain a 3.0 or better GPA.
- State Farm: Low rates for students who complete an online course.
- Farmers: High GPA students receive car insurance discounts.
See the complete list with more details of car insurance companies that offer discounts to college students.
Protect Your College Student and Yourself
Keep in mind that college students are among the highest-risk drivers on the road. You want to protect your child, but you also want to legally protect yourself.