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Give college students a crash course on insurance before they leave home

Posted On Tue, August 20, 2013

Before college students head back to campus and return to their dorm room or apartment, parents may want to prepare them for their many reading assignments by helping them brush up on some facts about insurance quotes, coverage and what belongings may be provided for if they take some with them.

Michael Barry, vice president of media relations for the Insurance Information Institute, noted that more students today are taking just about everything they would have back at their parents' place.

"Expensive sports equipment, electronics and furniture are increasingly showing up on college campuses today," said Barry. "Parents need to make sure these items are insured."

While there are some home policies than enable students to insure their belongings under their parents' homeowners plan, the III notes that parents should check with their provider, as a separate renters policy may be necessary.

There are several other steps that parents may want to consider helping their college-aged students with as they gear up for college life.

Perform an inventory
Perhaps the easiest way of determining what's going and what's staying is to make a list, or a "dorm inventory," the III recommends. What's included on the list should detail all of the items that are being brought to school, along with a rough estimate as to what the item costs in value. Determining this will be important to have available should something be stolen or damaged, as the insurer will need to have an idea of what needs to be paid out in compensation.

Though students may want to bring as many items to school with them as possible, it may make more financial sense to leave some belongings back at home. According to the III, many insurance plans offer off-premises coverage so that students can have financial protection for their possessions under their parents' plan, even though it's not physically on the insured property. However, some of them can be costly, depending on what's being taken. For example, fine jewelry may be best left at home, given that it often costs a lot to replace should it be stolen or damaged.

Auto insurance adjustments may be warranted
Something else to take into consideration is auto insurance. The III indicates that if students go to school at a location that's within 100 miles of their parents' residence, they generally don't need to inform their insurer. Anything greater than this, though, and the family's provider should be contacted. That's because the owner of the policy may be eligible for a discount.

This depends on how the car will be used. For example, if the vehicle is being taken to college and used as a primary mode of transportation, the insurer will likely need to take additional factors into consideration to determine a new premium total, such as where the school is located. Conversely, if the car is going to be left at home and only used during the summer months when the student returns, the policyholder may be able to shave some money off of their plan. Either way, it's a smart move to contact to the insurance agency, to err on the side of caution.

These are just a few of the ways parents can prepare their college students for the school year, as this may be the first time they've ever even thought about managing an insurance plan. The III has a video Posted On its website of students being interviewed about what belongings they brought with them from home, and how many of them thought about securing the proper insurance protection for these possessions. Their answers may prove surprising.

Feedback or questions? Email the editor here.

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