It’s a rite of passage for college students to don cap and gown and march for graduation ceremonies- in fact, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), nearly 1.8 million students will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in 2012. As those 1.8 million make the transition from undergraduates to careers, pursuit of advanced degrees or back into mom and dad’s basement, it’s critical that they understand how walking across that stage may have changed their insurance needs.

While every individual’s needs are unique, here are five basic insurance coverages that all college grads should consider, to see if they apply:

Auto insurance
A shiny new car, whether owned or leased, holds appeal for newly employed college grads. Auto insurance helps cope with the expenses of accidents, vandalism or theft.  A lender or leasing company that finances the vehicle will require auto insurance. Car accidents can create large liabilities for a driver, so the liability portion of auto coverage helps protect the bank account. Plus, auto insurance covers many legal expenses if a driver is sued. If a graduate who already owns a car is moving, where they keep and register the car, especially from one state to another, can impact coverage. It’s important for new graduates to let their insurance agent know about these moves to make sure their current coverage will still apply, or if they’ll need a new policy.

Health insurance
Under the new federal health care law, children can remain on their parent’s health insurance policy until age 26. With unemployment and underemployment high among those in their early twenties, this can provide many recent grads with health insurance until they are able to get it through their employer or an individual policy. Individual policies can be pricey and differ significantly in coverage, so talk with a Trusted Choice® insurance professional about what makes the most sense. 

Homeowners or renters insurance
College grads starting out may not own a home yet, but may rent a residence. To make sure their possessions are protected, homeowners and renters insurance offer comprehensive coverage whether at home or traveling. Liability insurance included in renters and homeowners coverage also helps protects against the risk of being sued. There usually are limitations on renters coverages within a group house—a typical post-graduate arrangement—so it is important to understand the details of a policy. 

Life insurance
New grads may find a job with an employer that offers group term life insurance coverage. However, those with children may find it worthwhile to buy additional term life insurance or permanent life insurance, which builds cash value over time.

Disability insurance
This is a vital but often-overlooked insurance coverage. It provides income when a person is injured or disabled, whether on the job or off. A Trusted Choice® insurance professional can calculate the right amount of coverage to help a person live while recovering. 

New college grads may want to lean financially on their parents’ insurance coverages as long as possible (though mom and dad might feel a little differently!). While that makes sense, it’s not always viable. For instance, auto insurance companies will require an owner or lessee of a car to carry their own coverage. There are plenty of insurance policies out there that new grads won’t need, unless there are special circumstances, such as air travel insurance, contact lens insurance or cancer insurance. Typically, it is better to have comprehensive policies like renters or health.

Parents of new graduates also should take this time to review their own insurance portfolios, as there may be opportunities to reduce their premiums when child moves out of the home.

What will be the hot technology over the next few years? While no one can say for certain, it’s not difficult to make a case for smartphones and mobile devices.

Consider these numbers: In the fourth quarter of 2011 alone, according to industry observers, 157.8 million smartphones flew off store shelves worldwide, bringing the total for the year to 491.4 million units. AverageU.S.smartphone ownership is at 41.8 percent of mobile subscribers, or 98 million people.

Industry reports indicate smartphone sales are expected to hit 1.5 billion units globally in 2016. Over the next five years, sales will see a 30 percent compound annual growth rate. By 2016, these devices are reportedly set to make up about two-thirds of all mobile phone sales. If you compare this with the number of PCs sold this year, which stood at 350 million units, smartphones are clearly going to be the gadget of choice for customers accessing the Internet.

Smartphones and mobile devices have forever changed the way we communicate. We’re now permanently connected—wherever we go. Work, family, friends, schedules, and finances are all instantly available. And while there are obvious downsides, we still expect and demand immediacy in almost everything.

Unlike cell phones of the past 20 years, smartphones provide a richer user experience on many levels:

  • A sophisticated camera is always available to take, send, post, and store thousands of pictures.
  • The GPS capability always “knows” where you are and can guide you to places such as restaurants and shopping venues.
  • Apps with Internet connections provide instant connectivity to your bank, insurance company, airline, department store, social network, and most accounts with online access.
  • Your entire music collection is always with you.
  • And yes, your mobile device is even good for phone calls, texts, and email.

 Paperless Insurance 

As a macro trend, mobile technology is increasingly facilitating customer self-service. Consumers are demanding instant access to services and information, and the use of paper and traditional mail services continues to decline.

For example, pending legislation in several states would permit drivers to use their smartphone apps to show their insurance ID card virtually. These states include Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, and Mississippi as of first-quarter 2012. This trend may continue as more and more states bring similar bills to the floor of the legislature. The new era of paperless insurance documentation is already here and gaining ground as more insurers commit resources to mobile app development as a cost-saving initiative. As mobile apps provide more options for policyholders, insurers can realize savings on printing and postage.

Both mobile technology and social media have altered the way recent generations think about privacy and sharing information. Should your mobile device allow you to connect to other policyholders who live nearby when you have the same agent or insurance company? Could such a network support ride sharing or the pooling of certain services? While most people rely heavily on their cars, could the combination of rising fuel costs and the emergence of technology-based services change the way people think about transportation options? Commercial ride-sharing companies have already been launched in many urban markets.