If this month’s plans include sending a child off (or back) to college, our thoughts are with you. This is an exciting – and emotional – time for both parents and students.
But between selecting the right meal plan, decorating a dorm room or apartment and shopping for the latest technology, it’s important to take a moment and consider the security of your student’s personal belongings.
Today’s college students take everything to campus – from computers, tablets and printers to flat-screen televisions, video gaming systems and cameras. And that’s just technology. Factor in furniture, sports equipment, bicycles, musical instruments, textbooks, room décor, bedding, clothing, designer shoes, jewelry and accessories – and you’re talking a pretty hefty haul.
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, it’s not unusual for an average college student to bring several thousand dollars’ worth of personal belongings with them to college.
Unfortunately, college students are prime targets for theft and victims of fire. In 2014, there were more than 15,500 robberies and burglaries on campus, according to U.S. Department of Education Campus Safety and Security Data. And according to the National Fire Prevention Association, an average of 3,870 structural fires in dormitories, fraternity and sorority housing occurred annually from 2009 to 2013.
For students who live in a dorm on campus, most possessions may be covered by their parents’ homeowners or renters insurance. However, some carriers limit coverage for off-premise belongings to 10 percent of the total amount of policy coverage. It’s important to note that insurance for students applies to the same covered perils as the parents’ home – fire, theft, vandalism and natural disasters.
Students who live on or off campus housing may want separate renter’s insurance to cover their belongings while at college. Your insurance agent can help you understand if your student needs their own policy.
Many colleges offer free engraving services for computers and other valuables, which helps makes these items less desirable to would-be thieves and easier to recover. It’s always a good idea to save receipts, photograph items and document serial numbers for any valuables that are taken to college – a big help in the event a claim needs to be filed.
And it goes without saying: Don’t let your guard down. An unlocked dorm room or an unattended backpack in the library or dining hall is just the break a thief is looking for.
If your student is taking a car to campus, be sure to notify your insurance carrier, as the location may affect the rate. If the student will not have access to a car at college, they may be eligible for a discount on auto coverage.
Finally, many colleges require students to purchase health insurance if they cannot provide proof of coverage from another plan. If your student is covered by your policy, make sure they provide documentation to their college prior to paying tuition and fees for the semester. Otherwise, you may find yourself paying for additional coverage you do not need.
Your insurance agent is a great resource for questions about insuring your college student. Do your homework and don’t be caught unprepared!
Robin Price, President, Allen Tate Insurance