When kids boomerang
By Christine Barlow
Who is an insured is relatively straightforward until the issues of residency appear. Resident relatives are easy, as are minor children. Where it gets complicated is when children go away to school, go away for a job for a particular time, or are in the military. Considering the home you grew up in with mom and dad home does not necessarily make the individual an insured.
Before tackling who is an insured, we first have to determine what establishes residency. What is the difference between permanently living somewhere and temporarily residing somewhere? Is it number of personal belongings in the home, where mail is received, does the person have keys to another residence, or length of time at a particular residence? In Neva ROSE, as an individual, and as special administrator, and Kim Bauman, as co-conservator of the Estate of Joseph D. Bauman, and Jeremy Bauman, as co-conservator of the Estate of Joseph D. Bauman, Plaintiffs, v. FARMERS INSURANCE EXCHANGE, Defendant the Kansas Supreme Court stated that the establishment of residence required two factors; a bodily presence at a location coupled with an intent to stay there either permanently or for an indefinite period of time. Note that this is an indefinite, versus a definite, period of time. If an individual knows he is going to be at a separate location for the time of four months that is not indefinite. There is an ending date known where the individual will vacate the secondary premises and return to the primary residence.
Students away at school
Because of confusion over this topic over the years, the policy now states that a student enrolled full time at school that lived in the household before going to school, and is under the age of 24 and a relative, or is under the age of 21 and in the insured's care is still considered an insured. A child in school full time is most likely still dependent on the parents financially, and is not really living on their own. They generally come back home in the summer when the semester is over and leave most of their possessions at mom and dad's.
But what if they don't? If a student away at school gets an apartment instead of living in the dormitory, then where exactly is home? The policy does not distinguish between a dormitory and an apartment. If the child is attending school, even if he's gotten an apartment, that can still be considered an insured location if the student makes the case that it is a temporary arrangement.
However the student has moved out and there is a lease. The parents may even be paying for the lease, but a tenant's policy will ensure that there is no confusion as to whether or not the student is covered under the parents policy as an insured. If the student stays at the apartment year round, taking classes and even working part time, it becomes harder to say that it is a temporary arrangement even if there is a plan to give up the apartment and move home after finishing school. Coverage is not based on future intentions, but on current facts.
Temporary job assignments
Because of the cost of living more children are living at home with the parents after college instead of moving out. Some people have jobs that will temporarily assign them to a different locale. What is their status while they are away from home? For example, George is assigned for six months in Texas. There is no plan on the employer's or George's part to relocate to Texas; this is a temporary project. George is 26 years old and is not a student. If the length of the temporary assignment is set for a definite amount of time, then George is still a resident of the parent's home, even though he resides somewhere else for several months. However, if the assignment is long term and the end of the assignment is undefined, then George is no longer a resident relative, and needs to get a policy to cover his own belongings.
Military leave is handled the same way as temporary job assignments. When there is a definite end date, even though the person is out of the household for an extended period of time, they can still be considered a resident relative. However, if the assignment may be changed or extended, and the person gets an apartment off base, then that individual needs to get a tenant's policy. Some states may make exceptions for those in military service; a check with the local insurance department can provide that information.
Many people tend to focus on the fact that relatives are insureds, and not that the language reads resident relatives. That extra word makes an enormous difference in the availability of coverage. Age is a factor as well, since only family members up to age 24 are covered when away at school. While the person may be a professional student, eventually he needs to get his own coverage.
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