With college kids back to school, parents often call to remove their children from their auto policy to try to save a few dollars. While this may be possible in some states, it is not the case for all.
In Massachusetts, for example, all household members or customary operators of a vehicle must be listed on the auto policy. If a person’s legal address is your home, then they are considered a household member.
So what happens when your child goes away to school? If they live in a dorm room on campus and come home for winter and summer breaks, then they are still technically a household member. This means that in some states you can’t remove them from the policy.
Don’t worry if your state does not allow a household member to be removed from your auto policy. There are other ways to decrease your premium for the months while your child is away. One way is to “exclude” them from the vehicles on the policy. Please note, not all insurance companies offer this option (Central Insurance does not). You’ll need to check with your company or your independent agent to determine this. For those that have this option available from their company, here’s how it works. Both the driver (your child) and the policy owner (you) sign a form acknowledging that the “excluded operator” (your child) will not be driving any of the vehicles on the policy under any circumstances. Because you are essentially signing away your child’s coverage, the insurance company will remove the additional premium being charged for that driver. But remember, there is no coverage for the excluded driver if they get behind the wheel of a car on that policy and get into an accident.
The exclusion method should be used for those college students who only come home for Thanksgiving, summer and winter breaks, and spring break (of course there will always be some weekend trips back home to do laundry and get a good home-cooked meal). In these circumstances, you would contact your insurance company or agent to advise them that your child will be home and driving the car so that they can “unexclude” them for that period of time. When your child returns to school, you must sign another exclusion form.
Now if your child brings a car to school with them, or comes home frequently on weekends and uses your vehicles, the exclusion method is not a good choice for you. But fear not. There are still ways you can save money. In some states, there are good student discounts for those who have a certain GPA, typically 3.0 or better. If you provide your company with proof, such as a copy of your child’s transcript, then a discount can be applied to the vehicle they are being rated on. It is a good incentive for students to get good grades as it helps to ease the financial burden young drivers’ cause on auto insurance policies. This discount is available in Massachusetts for any high schooler or undergrad who goes to school full-time. Grad students are typically not eligible for this discount.
Because each state is different, you should take a few minutes to call your insurance company or independent agent to discuss your options for your student who is going away to college. It might save you a few dollars. What other suggestions do you have for saving money on student drivers?