Beyond the author: AAA advises students to adjust insurance

There’s another rite of spring that happens all over the country and we see it every year right here in Luzerne County – college students unloading vehicles and carrying boxes of stuff to their dorm rooms.

Yes, these are the times when students bring everything they think they will need to not only prepare them for the academic challenges of college, but also bring everything they need to help them feel comfortable as they embark on pursuing their degrees.

Being away from home is an adjustment and having those little reminders of what life was like when they were in high school and living at home, these elements are extremely important for students who find themselves in a new city, meeting new friends and deal with the demands of college professors.

My friends at AAA Mid-Atlantic say that the transition from high school graduate to new student is an exciting milestone, and leaving home is part of the process for many.

AAA is reminding students and their parents of important steps—that very few people think about—before starting school.

There you have it — review your insurance policy.

Dorm rooms can be a hot spot for thieves, according to Consumer Reports. Two roommates can only have electronics worth $6,000 or more—laptops, tablets, smartphones, and gaming systems—as well as other valuables in their small living space.

According to the US Department of Education’s data on property crimes reported on college campuses, burglary and theft of personal property is the most common crime, followed by motor vehicle theft.

“Students living away from home should be aware that they may have limited coverage on their parents’ insurance policies,” said Colleen Jovetzis, territory manager for AAA Retail Insurance Sales. “Before leaving for college, students should check what risks and liabilities are covered.”

A few insurance tips for students

• If you live in a dormitory, some personal items may be covered by your parents’ homeowner’s or renter’s 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 permit for students.

• If you live off campus, purchase renters insurance. Renters insurance is necessary to protect you and your belongings and can protect you from liability in the event that someone is accidentally injured in 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”. Create a detailed list of all items you will be taking with you, including photos and receipts. In the event that you need to file a claim, an up-to-date inventory will help make the process easier.

• Protect your items from theft. Always lock your dorm room door and never leave belongings unattended on campus. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the library, dining hall and other public areas are common areas where property theft occurs on campus.

Car Insurance Tips for Students

Coverage may depend on whether you are leaving your home or staying in the area. If you bring a car to campus and stay on your parent’s policy, coverage probably still applies.

If you attend school out of state, make sure your insurance coverage follows you. It gets a bit difficult if the student attends courses throughout the year and doesn’t plan on returning home for the summer. Technically they have moved to their college. It gets a little more complicated depending on whether they have on-campus or off-campus housing.

• Check with your insurance agent. To see what discounts you may qualify for and to make sure you have adequate coverage while in school, contact your insurance agent.

• Discuss borrowing the car from others. Unlike AAA membership, auto insurance follows the car, not the driver. If your teen borrows their car from a friend or roommate and has an accident, the accident will be against whoever owns the vehicle – which is usually mom and dad. This can lead to higher premiums, possibly totaled vehicle and generally bad feelings.

If you have questions, contact your insurance agent to get the answers.

The cover really can be anything.

Contact Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

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