Property & Casualty Profile – August

In This Issue:

  • School Bus Safety
  • Cellphone Use behind the wheel
  • Insuring Your College Student
  • Additional Helpful Resources

Did You Know?

Each year, more than 240,000 kids under the age of 16 are injured in car crashes. Most accidents happen near home and students are about 50 times more likely to arrive at school alive if they take the bus than if they drive themselves or ride with friends.

School Bus Safety

Being extra cautious around a school bus is a necessity since the cargo on board is priceless. Remember these tips while driving near those big yellow buses:

  • Be prepared to stop when you see the bus driver turn on the flashing red lights and raise the stop sign; a passenger is getting off.
  • Never pass a stopped school bus that is unloading students.
  • Remember that buses stop at railroad tracks so keep your distance as you approach them.
  • Obey speed limits in school zones and give school buses the right-of-way

Cellphone Use Behind the Wheel

When was the last time you talked on your cellphone or texted while driving? If you are like most drivers on the road today, this is a regular occurrence. But increasing evidence reveals the dangerous link between cellphone use behind the wheel and motor vehicle accidents.

The Risks and Dangers
Because the attention of many drivers may be diverted due to multitasking behind the wheel, the cellphone has become one of the most common and deadly driver distractions. Originally used as aids in emergency situations such as calling for roadside assistance, cellphones have become much more than that today.

Cellphone use is especially dangerous because drivers cannot safely divide their attention between the road and their conversations. When talking on your cellphone while driving is absolutely necessary, research indicates that hands-free cellphones will help keep your hands on the wheel, but could still keep your mind from focusing on the road.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) asserts that texting, specifically, requires full attention, taking drivers’ attention off the road. Not only that but for every 2 seconds that a driver’s eyes stray from the road, they are twice as likely to have an accident, according to AAA.

You may not view texting while driving as seriously as you view drunk driving, but Car and Driver magazine performed a study that compared the two and made some interesting observations. Test subjects in the study had much slower reaction times to brake lights in front of them when texting than they did when intoxicated. Texting while driving is a serious threat to your safety and the safety of others.

State Laws
Many states already have laws prohibiting the use of cellphones and texting while driving. These laws are changing frequently, so be sure to know what the restrictions are in your state. For more information on state requirements, visit

Do’s and Don’ts
Follow these simple tips for driving and texting behind the wheel:

  • DO follow all state and local regulations regarding cellphone use while driving. It is your responsibility to know the laws.
  • DO use a hands-free device if you need to make a call while driving, or pull off the road safely before calling.
  • DO let voicemail take calls if you cannot answer the phone safely.
  • Do NOT surf the web, send or read texts, or use any other cellphone function that takes your eyes and attention off the road.
  • Do NOT use any function of your wireless device in heavy traffic, severe weather or other hazardous conditions.

 Insuring Your College Student

Be Proactive About Your Student’s Coverage

When your child leaves for college, it is a big event. One thing that you should think about is your insurance coverage and how it could change with your son or daughter away at school. You should be sure to check your coverage if your student is:

  • Moving more than 100 miles away
  • A member of any of the school’s intercollegiate sports teams
  • Living in an off-campus residence

Additionally, be on the lookout for coverage that could change when your child leaves for college:

  • Your auto policy could be modified depending on whether your child takes the family car to school
  • Your homeowners’ policy may not cover your student’s belongings
  • Your health insurance probably covers full-time students, but are there in-network providers nearby?

Protecting Your Students’ Belongings

Be certain to review your homeowners policy. Many policies consider a dorm room an extension of your home, so all items your child keeps there will be covered to some extent. But if your child lives off-campus, his or her possessions may not be covered. You may want to consider renter’s insurance.

Changing Auto Coverage
If your son or daughter moves more than 100 miles away from home to attend school and does not keep a vehicle there, your car insurance premiums could decrease by as much as 30 percent.

Keeping Your Child Healthy While on Campus
Since 2014, children up to age 26 can stay on their parent’s employer plan even if they have another offer of coverage through an employer. This rule applies to all plans in the individual market and to new employer plans. It also applies to existing employer plans unless the adult child has another offer of employer-based coverage.

If you find your child does not have adequate coverage under your plan, you have a few options. Most universities have their own health plans, but some policies have low deductibles and low coverage maximums. It may be better to consider an individual policy for your student depending on his or her needs, so contact Montoya & Associates to make sure you’re covered.

Insurance for Students FAQs

Q: Will my child’s belongings be covered if his/her dorm is subject to theft, fire or other disasters?
A: Usually homeowners’ policies extend to a campus dorm room, but only up to a certain amount. If your student has expensive items, consider getting more coverage.

Q: Will my child’s belongings be covered if he/she lives in off-campus housing?
A: It depends. Call 904-280-2028 to determine whether your student’s property would be protected under your homeowners’ policy. If not, consider purchasing renter’s insurance, which ranges from $15 to $30 per month and also provides liability coverage if anyone is injured in the residence.

Q: What happens if my student gets seriously injured while at school?
A: This is a very real possibility, so it is important to contact Montoya & Associates to discuss your health plan and whether there are providers near your child’s university or college.

Q: Does my child need to be a full-time student to be covered under my health plan?
A: No. Your child is eligible as long as they are under 26 years old.

Q: Can I get a discount on my auto policy if my young driver is away at school?
A: Usually you can, provided your son or daughter attends a school that is more than 100 miles away from your home. Your auto policy could also change if he or she takes a car to school, so be sure to contact Montoya & Associates.

Plan Ahead
Call our office today at 904-280-2028 to learn more about insurance solutions for your student.

Helpful Resources:

Insuring College Students
Preventing Distracted Driving
State Driving Laws

Download Full newsletter: Property & Casualty Profile – August 2017