Are my kids covered under my car insurance policy?
Parents of teenagers have a lot of things to worry about. One concern is about car insurance. Once teenagers start to drive, car insurance becomes somewhat more complicated; college students provide unique challenges as well. When considering an insurance policy, it’s important to know what is covered and who that coverage applies to.
For the most part, insurance coverage followed the vehicle rather than the driver. This means that regardless of who is driving your vehicle, your insurance company will pay for damage it sustains during an accident. Some insurance companies handle this differently, however, so it’s important to check with your company to determine exactly who is covered on the policy. In some cases, only drivers specifically listed as operators on the policy will be covered.
If your vehicle is involved in a collision and the driver is excluded from the policy, the damage may not be covered. Additionally, even in situations where damage is covered, your child may not be able to file the claim or speak with the insurance without your presence unless he or she is listed on the policy. This becomes especially important for college students. If your son is involved in a car accident in another state, you may want him to be able to file the claim and receive settlement without you needing to facilitate all communication.
In addition to paying for damage to a vehicle, auto insurance can pay for medical expenses caused by a car accident. Generally, your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage pays for any individual who is listed on your policy, and also for any resident relatives. For purpose of insurance, a resident relative is someone who is either your blood relation or spouse who lives at your home. Minor children are resident relatives, as are children over eighteen whose permanent address is your home.
For the most part, college students will also be considered to be resident relatives, even if they spend time away at school out of state. As long as they come home during holidays and summers, or claim your home address as their permanent address, they should be considered resident relatives until they graduate.
PIP coverage doesn’t only pay for medical expenses incurred during a car accident in an insured auto, it also protects an insured who is injured as a passenger in someone else’s car. PIP coverage will even pay for injuries caused by an insured being hit as a pedestrian, or injuries caused while exiting a vehicle or doing maintenance work on a car.
PIP insurance is so valuable for college students that every parent should be sure to check if their students are covered under their auto policy, and consider adding them to the policy if not.
Should You Ever Exclude Your Kids From Your Policy?
In some situations, excluding certain drivers from your insurance policy can save you a substantial amount of money on your car insurance. Drivers under 25 pay higher premiums than older, experienced drivers; if you live with young adults, your insurance company will assume that they have free access to your vehicles and drive them regularly. This means that your rates will increase as a result of having adult children, regardless of whether or not they actually drive your car.
Your rates can also be adversely affected if anyone in your household is a high-risk driver. If, for example, any of your resident relatives have been charged with a DUI, you may receive higher rates on your own policy. Even if that person does not have a driver’s license, you may still pay higher premiums.
In order to combat these heightened premiums, you might choose to exclude certain people from your policy. If your children have their own auto insurance, you can exclude them from your policy. You can also exclude students who usually do not live with you or have access to your car.
If you do choose make any exclusions on your policy, be sure that you do not allow that person to drive your vehicle. A claim for an accident caused by an excluded driver will usually be denied, and could even lead to a policy cancellation depending on the circumstances.
Ultimately the only way to know for sure who is covered under your insurance policy is to ask your agent. He or she will know the details of your policy and can explain in detail the way that coverage will be applied. If you don’t have an agent, you can usually call the customer service number for your insurance company and speak with a representative who can answer any questions you might have.