Policies offered by GradGuard, which markets them in partnership with around 400 colleges, specifically exclude student withdrawals resulting from an outbreak. But the company’s insurance partner Allianz has chosen to cover medical withdrawals resulting from the coronavirus, said John Fees, co-founder and CEO of GradGuard.
A update attached to the policy information on GradGuard’s website, dated February 12, states that “until further notice, although not covered by most plans, we are currently accepting claims when an insured student withdraws completely. from school for the period covered due to Covid19 disease. “
GradGuard’s policies will continue to cover withdrawals for students who become ill with Covid over the next academic year, Mr. Fees said. He declined to say how many of these claims the company’s policies paid. And he noted that the policies did not cover withdrawals just because a school switched from in-person classes to distance learning. (Some families for follow-up colleges and universities that had changed, claiming that distance learning was not up to standard or was not what they were promised. The lawsuits have had mixed results.)
The insurance would likely cover a student who withdrew due to a mental health diagnosis linked to the coronavirus, Mr Fees said. Policies require that a licensed mental health professional examine the student and advise on withdrawal. (In the past, mental health withdrawals required a documented hospital stay, but that is no longer the case, Mr Fees said.)
Eden Schiano, a 19-year-old from Virginia Beach, said her family was relieved to have purchased tuition insurance through GradGuard when she enrolled at Virginia Commonwealth University last fall. Ms Schiano had been treated for an eating disorder, she said, and her family worried about college demands and the potential loss of funds if she ended up retiring.
However, Ms. Schiano was determined to go, so her doctor recommended tuition insurance for her. The family paid $ 180 for $ 10,000 in coverage, according to GradGuard. (Typically, the cost of coverage is 1.06% or 1.8% per $ 10,000, depending on the college.)
Once on campus, Ms. Schiano struggled to juggle distance education and eat regular meals, and began to lose weight, she said. Her doctor advised her to retire, which she did in October. The policy payout allowed her to regroup, she said, and she is now preparing to enroll in community college this fall.