(Bloomberg Businessweek) — With Covid-19 infections spreading on many college campuses, parents are naturally anxious about their kids’ health. But there’s a financial worry, too. Marcy Fischer’s daughter attends Emory University in Atlanta, where covering her off-campus lease, plus tuition, would come to about $30,000 for one semester. “You know, if they just get sent home from school and go virtual, that’s one thing,” says Fischer, who lives in Brookline, Mass. “But if they were to get sick and have to withdraw from university for the semester, we’d be out that money.”
To cover that risk, Fischer bought an insurance policy. The plan, from Boston-based GradGuard, can cover unrefunded tuition expenses and other costs if the student is too sick to finish the semester. At a school such as Emory that’s teamed up with GradGuard to sell the plans—there are more than 350 such partnerships—up to $30,000 of coverage would cost about $300. The policies, which are underwritten by Allianz SE, are more expensive if purchased individually. They’re bought or renewed each semester and must be purchased before the first day of classes.
John Fees, chief executive officer of GradGuard, says demand has jumped in the past few months as the pandemic has made the financial risk of high college costs even more vivid. “Families are more aware than ever before of the risks of paying for college,” he says. But whether Covid-19 is a good reason to shell out thousands of extra dollars over the course of a student’s college career for insurance is a more complicated question, experts say.
For one thing, such policies typically require the circumstances for withdrawal to be unforeseen,