|Exchange Students. Covering Their "Stuff." What About Their Driving?|
Check with your exchange student program coordinator to see what kinds of coverage are automatically provided for the child. Is there health insurance, travel insurance, special liability protection if the child should injure someone or someone's property? What and who exactly is covered and who is responsible for what?
Exchange Student "stuff"
An exchange student in your care who is under the age of 21 is automatically an insured under the homeowners policy as if the child were a relative child. Under your homeowners policy, the exchange student's "stuff" is covered while it is on your residence premises, or while away from the premises. Coverage away from the premises is normally limited to 10% of contents coverage, subject to a minimum limit of $1,000. Normally exchange students travel light, but review your coverage to make sure your limits are adequate if the student shows up with expensive racks of clothing and jewelry. Liability coverage that applies to your family also applies for damage and bodily injury done by an under 21 years of age exchange student.
If the exchange student is over the age of 21, then he or she is considered a guest. You can volunteer to include guest's "stuff" while on your residence premises or while you and the guest are at some other residence premises. However, sometimes it is difficult to determine whether the older exchange student is a guest or a tenant - someone who is paying you a reasonable rent for staying in your home. These are questions for a qualified personal lines agent who can help you design the proper insurance package to cover your particular situation.
Exchange Students Driving
First, make sure that the exchange student is permitted to drive under the rules of the exchange student program. If the student may drive, make sure that he/she has a drivers license that is valid in your state. Contact your local motor vehicle department for advice.
Anyone, with your permission, who drives your insured vehicles is normally covered for liability insurance for damage that the permitted driver does to other property and people, subject to the limits of insurance under the Personal Automobile Policy Form that is available in most states. Coverage to damage done to your vehicle, above any deductible, is also available when you have the appropriate collision and comprehensive coverages. Please check with a qualified automobile insurance agent after reading this and before your exchange student arrives. Virtually every state has its own special state-mandated endorsement that will expand or limit the coverage we describe here. Companies may use different forms that give broader or even more limited coverage than the Personal Automobile Policy Form.
If you expressly forbid the exchange student to drive your vehicle and the student does anyway, you may not have coverage under the policy, but you may still be found liable under a court of law - perhaps for improper supervision of a minor. Permission to use the vehicle in some policy forms must come from you, not your own child, or even Uncle Fred.
Medical payments coverage will apply to the exchange student who is injured in an accident while occupying or driving your car with your permission.
Discourage any exchange student who is a minor from purchasing a car, truck, motorcycle, RV, boat, moped, scooter or any other vehicle. An exchange student is a foreign national, on a temporary visa, a minor, and only in your temporary care. If the vehicle is purchased anyway, discuss the event with legal counsel retained by the exchange student program, or if such counsel is not available, discuss with your own attorney. Do your best to impound the vehicle until you can straighten out the legalities.
Most exchange students are great kids, but like any other children, they have diverse personalities and can be influenced by the "wrong crowd." Remember, while he or she is in your care -- you are responsible for the exchange student's actions and well being.
Check with your exchange student program. Most programs have blanket coverage for exchange students. If not, discuss with the parents of the exchange student, before the student arrives, what coverage the child will have while in the USA. If coverage is not available, you can often arrange for short-term individual policies from an individual health insurance carrier. You normally cannot add exchange students to your group health or individual health insurance policy.