December 5, 2013 - by Willy Hoffman Jr, CIC
For anyone to be covered under your Homeowners policy, they first must be an “insured” under your policy. Most Homeowners policies define an “insured” as the person(s) listed on the Declarations Page and any relative that is a resident of your household. So the question is, are they a “resident” of your household while they are away at college?
In the typical scenario of a child living in a dorm during the school year and returning home each summer, I would argue they are still a “resident” of your home and therefore covered by your Homeowners policy. Most policies provide up to 10% of your Content’s limit for Property away from your home. For example, if you have a policy with a Dwelling limit of $500,000, you likely have $350,000 in coverage for Contents. This means you have $35,000 in coverage for your child’s contents while away at college. The Liability coverage in your Homeowners policy would also typically apply to your child in the scenario described above.
The problem is, not everyone fits the above scenario. For example, if your child rents an apartment near his/her college on an annual basis and then stays there during the summer for an internship, your Homeowners policy may no longer provide coverage for your child. Most Homeowners policy state that the following is an insured location, “any part of a premises not owned by any insured but where any insured is temporarily residing”. The key phrase here is “temporarily residing”. If your child has an annual lease and is living there year round, your Homeowners carrier could argue that your child is no longer a “resident” of your household and that they are “permanently” not “temporarily” residing at another location.
One of the biggest insurance mistakes you can make is to delete you child from your Auto policy because they are away at college and no longer a regular driver of your car. They may not be driving your car, but they will likely drive friend’s cars, and they almost certainly will be passengers in other’s cars. If you do have a child away at college or grad school, we highly recommend that you speak with one of our agents to make sure they are not only covered under your Homeowners policy, but your Auto policy as well.