Headed to College: Who’s Still Covered Under the Family PAP?

An insured’s daughter is attending a military service academy starting this fall.

Q: Under the insured’s personal auto policy, is the daughter still considered a "family member"? If so, is she covered for non-owned autos? 

Response 1: Going away to college does not necessarily change a person’s residency. Residency is largely a function of where you conduct your personal business as a citizen. Indicators include where you are registered to vote and where are you taxed.

If residency is still with the parents based on those factors, the daughter is still a resident family member. If the daughter establishes another residency and changes all official signs of residency, then she is no longer a resident family member and would not be covered under the PAP.

Response 2: It depends on the specific provisions of the PAP. The ISO PP 00 01 defines a "family member" as "a person related to you (the Named Insured) by blood, marriage or adoption who is a resident of your household. This includes a ward or foster child."  

As you can see, the form makes no distinction for members of the U.S. armed forces. In this situation, the sticking point relies on whether a cadet or midshipman attending a service academy is officially a resident of the named insured's household, which would be a legal question.

My advice is to check with the carrier. Given society's positive attitude toward the U.S. military, it would be interesting to watch the legal and public relations ramifications of an insurer denying coverage to a "family member" attending a service academy.

Response 3: It depends on how the carrier defines a “resident.” It is possible to argue that the child resides at the school and is therefore no longer a resident of the parents’ household. Ask the carrier—if the child is no longer considered a resident, you can write a named non-owner policy.

Response 4: Assuming that the academy student is still a permanent resident of her parent’s home, I believe her coverage would be intact.

Response 5: Read the policy you sold them.

Response 6: The most common decisions look at the following: Will the person return to the policy address when the term is finished? Will the person still have personal property at the policy address? Is personal mail still being sent to the policy address? If these three conditions are met, it should make the person a family member and a covered insured.

This question was originally submitted by an agent through the VU’s Ask an Expert Service, with responses curated from multiple VU faculty members. Answers to other coverage questions are available on the VU website. If you need help accessing the website, request login information.