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    Student Health and Accident Insurance Can Fill the Coverage Gap

    For parents, a new school year typically brings a flood of paperwork: school policies to read up on, the events calendar to keep in mind and emergency contact information sheets to fill out. But in that deluge may be another bit of paperwork worth perusing -- a brochure that offers student accident or health insurance. Overlook it, and you may not have a chance to buy coverage again until the next semester or even the next school year.

    Student health and accident plans vary from state to state and plan to plan, but they all serve the same purpose.

    "This (type of) coverage is designed to fill the gaps in the parents' primary insurance," says Glen Doering, assistant vice president of the special risk department for Guarantee Trust Life Insurance Company in Glenview, IL, which offers such policies.

    Typically, these supplemental plans are purchased by parents who have traditional, fee-for-service health insurance, Doering and others say, but some subscribers of managed-care plans also buy the policies. Of course, such plans can also provide bare-bones protection for children whose parents are without health insurance. Most companies do not require a medical exam but ask students or parents to complete an enrollment form.

    Here are the most common options sold to parents, and their typical cost and coverage information.

    • Accident insurance for kindergarten through 12th-grade students:

    Accident-only plans typically offer school-hours coverage or, for a higher premium, 24-hour coverage. For instance, Guarantee Trust Life offers a school-hours accident plan for about $8 to $15 per year, with a maximum yearly benefit of $25,000 or $50,000. For 24-hour accident coverage, the cost goes up to about $30 to $50 per year. Again, the maximum benefit ranges from $25,000 to $50,000 per year.

    The exact maximum benefit depends on coverage decisions made by the individual school. While the plans may appear to be individual, they are not, Doering says. "We issue the policy to the school, and the school is the policyholder." As such, the school stipulates coverage.

    • Accident and sickness insurance for kindergarten through 12th-grade students:

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