Students who are attending technical schools or college to further their education should review their insurance needs, advises Wisconsin Commissioner Ted Nickel.
Moving on to college or vocational/technical school is a major life event and it is important for students and their parents to check to see if they will still be covered under their parents' health, auto and homeowner's insurance or if they need to obtain their own coverage.
"Insurance isn't as exciting as moving to college, but it is important," said Nickel.
"As young people move into the next phase of their lives, they should keep in mind the importance of having the right type of auto, renters and health insurance," Nickel said in a statement.
Created by the Legislature in 1871, Wisconsin's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance was vested with broad powers to ensure that the insurance industry responsibly and adequately met the insurance needs of Wisconsin residents.
Today, the mission of the Wisconsin's Office of the Commissioner is to lead the way in informing and protecting the public and responding to its insurance needs.
Below, Nickel offers tips on insurance for college students:
Anyone operating a motor vehicle in Wisconsin is required to have a motor vehicle liability insurance policy in place and to provide proof of coverage if asked by a law enforcement officer. Drivers may be asked to produce evidence of liability coverage if they are pulled over for a traffic violation or if they are involved in an accident. The law prohibits law enforcement officers from stopping a motorist to only verify insurance coverage. Verification of coverage may only be requested if a motorist is stopped for another reason, such as a traffic violation.
If you are driving a car that your parents own, you should still be covered under their insurance policy. But if you buy your own car, you will need an individual auto insurance policy. Likewise, if you ride a scooter or a motorcycle, you should ask your insurance agent for more information about moped insurance.
There have been changes to auto insurance laws in recent years.
Wisconsin's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance has a list of frequently asked questions on its website that provides more information about current auto insurance requirements and the changes to come this fall. The questions can be viewed at oci.wi.gov/consumer/autohome-faqauto.htm.
Renter's insurance is typically overlooked by young adults striking out on their own. "I cannot stress enough the level of protection and piece of mind that renter's insurance can give to young adults," said Nickel.
If you are moving into a dorm, your possessions may still be covered under your parents' homeowner's policy. But, if you live in an apartment, you need to be aware that your landlord's insurance only covers the building - not your possessions. Renter's insurance is usually fairly inexpensive and covers all of your belongings if they happen to be stolen, burned or carried off by a tornado or flood.
Under Wisconsin law, adult children up through age 25 will be permitted to remain on their parents' health insurance plan under certain conditions, if their parents have health insurance.
Coverage may even be continued beyond age 27 if an adult child returns to school on a full-time basis after being released from active duty in the National Guard or a reserve component provided that the adult child was a full-time student and under age 27 when called to federal active duty.
An individual who does lose his or her eligibility for coverage as a dependent under a parents' group health insurance plan may still have the right to continue group coverage for a period of time under the federal COBRA law.
For more information on COBRA, visit www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq-consumer-cobra.html.
If a student wishes to purchase individual coverage, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) mandated a number of changes to health insurance.
Wisconsin law protects students with preexisting conditions who don't have access to health insurance with a high-risk program serving adults with preexisting medical conditions.
Next year, individuals will be able to buy coverage through the private market (either inside or outside the health insurance exchange) on a guaranteed issue basis. For more information about the HIRSP state plan, visit www.hirsp.org.
Last Minute Notes:
- Consumers should consult with an independent agent for answers to all their insurance questions. Independent agents have the ability to work with multiple companies to find the right policy to fit everyone's insurance needs.
- Read your policy.
- Shop around; it pays.
- Check with Office of the Commissioner of Insurance to see if an agent or company is licensed before doing business with them.
- Call your insurance agent or company when you are having a problem.
For more information, call 1-800-236-8517.