The transition from high school graduate to college student is an exciting milestone, and moving away from home is part of the process for many. AAA reminds college students and their parents of an important first step to take before heading to campus: review the family’s insurance policies.
According to Consumer Reports, dorm rooms can be a hotspot for thieves. Two roommates could have $6,000 or more worth of electronics alone – laptops, tablets, smartphones and gaming systems – as well as other items of value in their small living space. The U.S. Department of Education data of property crimes reported on college campuses show burglary is the most common crime, followed by motor-vehicle theft.
“Parents’ insurance policies may only provide limited coverage to college students living away from home,” said Jonathon King, vice president of insurance sales, AAA East Central. “Given the statistics about crime on campuses, it’s important for families to check to see what risks and liabilities are covered.”
Homeowners’ and Renters’ Insurance Tips
- If living in a dorm, some personal possessions may be covered under parents’ insurance policies. Expensive items such as computers and other electronics may be subject to coverage limits under a standard homeowner’s policy, and some states require a special student endorsement.
- If living off-campus, purchase renters’ insurance. Renters’ insurance is necessary to protect belongings and can offer protection from liability in the event that someone is accidently injured on the property.
- Leave valuables at home. While some valuable items, such as laptops, may be needed on campus, items such as expensive jewelry may be best left at home.
- Create a “dorm inventory.” Keep a detailed inventory of all items moved to the dorm and include photos and receipts. If it’s necessary to file a claim, an up-to-date inventory will help make the process easier.
- Safeguard items from theft. Always lock dorm-room doors and never leave belongings unattended on campus. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the library, dining hall and other public places are common areas where property theft occurs on campus.
Auto Insurance Tips
- Coverage may depend on where the college or university is located. If students bring a car to campus and remain on a parent’s policy, coverage likely still applies. If attending an out-of-state school, check to make sure insurance coverage is still in force. It gets a little tricky if the student takes classes year-round and does not plan to return home during the summers. Technically, they have relocated to their college location. It gets more complex, depending on if they have on-campus or off-campus housing.
- Check with an insurance agent. To see what discounts may be available and to ensure coverage is sufficient while away at school, meet with an insurance agent to explore available options.
More to Consider Before the Move to Campus
- Every two seconds, someone is a victim of identity theft. While away from home, students often live in dorms or other shared spaces, and they may be connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks. This can make it easier for their identity to be stolen. Parents should encourage their students to secure personal documents, use strong passwords for all electronics and keep social media profiles private. AAA members can help protect family members’ identities by enrolling in ProtectMyID. More information can be found at AAA.com/IDTheft.
- Plan ahead for moving essentials like boxes, pads and transportation. In some cases, moving to campus may be as simple as packing up the family car and heading to campus. But if moving many boxes or items like furniture, it may be necessary to rent a truck. AAA members can take advantage of discounts on truck rentals and moving supplies through exclusive truck-rental partner Penske. For more information, go to AAA.com/Penske
AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 69 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members. News releases are available at news.eastcentral.aaa.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.