Insurance Tips for College Students & Parents
When you send your child off to college, surprises are inevitable. But one thing is certain — money will be tight. Ensuring you are protecting your child’s property, while they are away, is so important. Kids head off to college campuses with smartphones, TVs, game consoles, laptops, printers — and even bicycles. Replacing valuables, due to theft or damage, is one expense you can avoid by checking your insurance coverage to see if you have enough.
Start With a Checklist
In these hectic days before the big move, shopping for those “extra-long dorm sheets,” and looking up the new roommate on Facebook, it’s a good idea to make time for these three tasks:
- Help your child take inventory of all the items your child is planning to take to school — and decide on whether to take the car
- Review your existing insurance coverage with your insurance agent
- Explain the coverage limits and liabilities to your child
Creating and Storing Your Asset Inventory
Your personal inventory list could prove to be invaluable in the event of a fire or theft. In the days following a catastrophe, you may forget what you actually had, and, as a result, you may not include some valuable items on your actual insurance claim.
An inventory can be as simple as a list of your belongings written down on a piece of notebook paper. Or, you could use your smartphone camera to snap photos quickly of your valuables, and use the notes section in the photo editor to record the value. An even faster method is to use your phone’s video camera to show the item and explain its value.
Keeping you inventory list safe, in the event of a fire, is just as critical as making a list. You could print out the list, and store it in a safe deposit box, but an even better method, especially for the video inventory, is to store the file electronically in the cloud. Google Drive, iCloud, and Microsoft Cloud are places to store your files so that they are password protected, and accessible from any device, in an emergency. If your inventory is on paper, just take a photo of it with your smartphone, and store a backup copy in the cloud.
Protecting Your Child’s Stuff at Their Home Away From Home
Your own homeowner’s insurance policy will likely cover most of the personal property your child takes into the dorm. But as you inventory your child’s possessions, check with your insurance agent to determine cap amounts. Expensive electronics or jewelry might require an additional rider. Because homeowners policies vary by state, you’ll also want to let your agent know if your child is leaving the state, so that you can make adjustments to your policy now.
If your child is moving to off-campus housing, you’ll need a renter’s insurance policy — which some landlords require. These policies are very inexpensive, around $30 a month or less, but bring a great value. Renter’s Insurance covers your student’s valuables in the event of a break-in or fire. Each roommate will need their own separate policy.
Wheels at School?
Deciding to send your child off to college with a car can add a hefty expense to your car insurance premium. The final rate, however, will be reflected by many factors, including how much your child will be driving the car, and the crime rate of the college campus, the number of miles that the student drives, and the driving record of your student. Let your insurance agent know there is a change in the principal location of the vehicle so that the rate can be re-calculated. Encourage your student to earn stellar grades, as it can help you earn additional discounts on your auto policy premium.
Keeping the car at home saves money on insurance premiums, primarily because the child will be driving less. However, if your student will drive at home during school breaks, they must remain on your auto policy, at a reduced rate, as an “occasional driver.” Discuss this with your agent.
Become Your Student’s Trusted Advisor
Because your child is embarking out onto the adult world, begin to teach them now about your insurance policies. Make sure your child understands the limits, liabilities and risks. Helping you child transition to the adult world, by providing information like this, is one way to stay involved in their new world, as they begin to finally see their parents as a source of wisdom.
Contact your Cole Harrison agent today to review your policy, and determine if you have the right coverage.