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The Further Away They Go to School, the Less Likely They Are to Wreck the Family Car.*

Sep 1, 2007


Sending Junior away for college can bring some savings - and not just because he can't skip home to do laundry and raid the fridge. Many auto insurers will lower if not eliminate the cost of coverage for a son or daughter who attends school far enough from home.

This and other ways to reduce your auto insurance premium should come as welcome news for parents of college students . After all, it's back-to-school time, which means that buying books and decorating the dorm room may have you feeling like a walking ATM.

Dick McKenny, an independent insurance agent with Advance Insurance in Edina, Minn., suggests that clients review their insurance plans whenever there's a major life change. That's because some policies are better than others for your family's circumstances.

College students whose permanent address is still at Mom and Dad's generally will be covered by their parents' car insurance.

If a child is attending school more than 100 miles away, many insurance companies will lower the family's auto insurance premium by as much as 30 percent. The insurer figures that because the student is unlikely to be routinely driving the family car, the odds of a wreck are less likely.

McKenny said some companies won't charge a penny to continue auto insurance for the family bookworm studying far away, whether in California or in Europe for the semester.

Have a student living at home while attending school or at the dorms in the next town away? Don't expect a rate cut, unless you can prove that your child's mileage is going to plummet.

What about situations in between? Take the case of Jim Stein's daughter, who is attending school 80 miles from the family home in Lindstrom, Minn. Stein, president of the Minnesota Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers Association, guesses that his insurance rate won't change because his daughter's not quite far enough away, but he plans to ask for the discount anyway.

Taking a car to school might not affect the family insurance costs. It may, however, raise rates, depending on the cost of insuring the car in that particular college town or perhaps in a state that requires more insurance. Children who establish residence in other states while at school would have to get their own policies.

But coverage from some insurer is a must. Insurance will help with any wreck involving your child and a motor vehicle, whether it happens while in a friend's car or while crossing the street. Not only that, but having no insurance can cause trouble when applying for an auto policy down the road. Without proof of previous coverage "you'd pay more," Stein said.

There's another discount parents shouldn't overlook: the good- student discount, given to high school and college students with a B average or better. McKenny said the break could be as much as 25 percent. He should know. His son recently dipped below a 3.0 grade- point average, and the family car insurance spiked by $200 every six months.

Some parents will pay the insurance only up to the good-student discount. If poor grades cause the premium to rise, the student's on the hook.

"I think it's a great idea to charge some of the insurance cost back to the children," Stein said.

(c) 2007 Virginian - Pilot. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

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