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Eric Dinallo
New York State Insurance Superintendent

Sending your child to college can be a challenging time for parents and children alike. One consideration you need to explore is how your insurance policies cover the needs of a child attending school away from home. The issues described here are some of the things you need to think about.

Health insurance

Most health insurance policies cover dependents who are full-time students until the age of 23. Generally, a student must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours per semester to be considered full-time. Individual policies differ. Check with your health insurer or benefits administrator about how your policy defines a full-time student and the maximum age of coverage.

Understand network coverage limitations

Before he or she leaves home, make sure your child has a copy of relevant insurance cards and knows about obtaining referrals and approvals, if necessary, before seeking treatment. If you are insured by a health maintenance organization (HMO), see if your child will be outside the HMO service area. If this occurs, the child likely will have coverage for emergency care, but may have to travel to a physician or hospital within the HMO service area for routine care. If your insurer is part of a preferred provider organization (PPO), your insurer may pay benefits at out-of-network levels if you are outside your network. Check your plan provisions or speak with your insurer to see what level of benefits your policy provides.

Student Health Insurance Plans

If health care coverage is limited by the network service area, one option is a student health insurance plan. These plans are sold by an insurer that has contracted with a college to offer coverage to its students. In general, these plans have more limited benefits and more exclusions than traditional health insurance plans. Many policies exclude routine examinations and injuries sustained while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Renters Insurance

Many students bring thousands of dollars worth of personal items – like electronics, computers, textbooks or furniture -- with them to school. Whether your child is living on- or off-campus, it is a good idea to review your homeowners policy to see if personal items will be covered.

Does Your Student Need Renters Insurance?
If your child is younger than 26 years old, enrolled in classes and living in on-campus housing, your homeowners policy will likely extend to his or her belongings. If your child is living off-campus, talk with your insurance agent about whether your homeowners coverage will extend to the rental property. If it does not, you might want to consider renters insurance to protect your child's personal property in the event that it is damaged, destroyed or stolen.

A Home Inventory
A comprehensive list of your child's possessions -- including purchase prices, model numbers and serial numbers -- will help you decide how much renters insurance is needed. It is a good idea to have a detailed inventory in case of disaster because this will help you and your child if you must file an insurance claim. Make sure to take photos or video of the possessions, and store the inventory in a secure, off-site location. Parents should also keep a copy of the inventory and photos. To download an easy-to-use home inventory checklist, visit the Insurance Department’s website,

The Big Move

Before packing your child's belongings into a car or rental trailer, talk with your insurance agent about insuring the contents. Ask if your homeowners policy will cover the belongings in the child's car or rental trailer when driving to campus. If your child is going to live off-campus, ask your insurance agent if coverage in a renters policy will extend to the belongings during the move. If not, ask your agent about a separate rider in case of accident or theft.

Auto Insurance

A significant move away from home can have a big impact on your auto insurance. If your child is taking a car to school, check with your agent about your existing policy. Ask about the rates for the college's city and state before deciding whether to keep your child's car on your family's auto policy. In addition, the insurance company should be notified each semester if the student maintains good grades. Maintaining a certain G.P.A. might make your child eligible for a good student discount. Visit the Insurance Department’s website,, for more tips on how to keep your auto insurance costs down when your teens start to drive.

Identity Theft

As a college student, your child may be vulnerable to identity theft because of the availability of personal information and the way many students handle this data. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. College students are more likely to be hit by identity thieves if they are unprepared to protect themselves when the steady stream of requests for personal information begins.

Identity Theft Insurance

Identity theft insurance cannot protect you or your child from becoming a victim of identity theft and does not cover direct monetary losses. Instead, identity theft insurance typically covers the cost of reclaiming your or your child's financial identity — such as the costs of making phone calls, making copies, mailing documents, taking time off from work without pay (lost wages) and hiring an attorney.

Before You Buy

Check to see if your homeowners policy includes identity theft insurance, and ask your agent if this extends to your child living away from your primary residence. If not, you might be able to purchase a stand-alone policy from another insurer, bank or credit card company. If your child is renting an apartment, ask if their renters insurance covers identity theft, or if it could be added to the policy.

Your Insurance Options

For more information about auto, home, life and health insurance options, visit the New York State Insurance Department website, If you have specific questions about your policies, you should always first check with your insurance agent, broker or company. If you are unable to get a satisfactory answer, you can always speak with an Insurance Department representative. The Department’s Consumer Services Bureau can be reached between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-342-3736.

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