Beyond signing: AAA advises students heading to college to adjust their insurance

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There’s another rite of spring that takes place across the country, and we see it every year right here in Luzerne County – students unloading vehicles and carrying boxes of stuff to their dorms.

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

Being away from home is an adjustment and having those little reminders of how life was when they were in high school and living at home, those things are critically important for students who find themselves in a new city, meet new friends and deal with requests from college professors.

So my friends at AAA Mid-Atlantic say the transition from high school grad to new student is an exciting step, and moving away from home is part of the process for many.

AAA reminds students and their parents of important steps – that very few think about – before leaving for school.

Right up there is this – review your insurance policy.

According to Consumer Reports, dorm rooms can be a hot spot for thieves. Two roommates could have $6,000 or more worth of electronics alone — laptops, tablets, smartphones, and gaming systems — along with other valuables in their small living space.

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

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

Some insurance tips for students

• If you live in a dormitory, some personal property may be covered by your parents’ home or renter’s insurance policies. Expensive items such as computers and other electronics may be subject to coverage limits under a standard home insurance policy, and some states require special approval for students.

• If you live off campus, get tenant insurance. Renters insurance is necessary to protect you and your property, and can protect you from liability in the event of accidental injury to someone on the property.

• Leave your valuables at home. Although some valuables, such as laptops, may be needed on campus, items such as expensive jewelry are best left at home.

• Create a “dormitory inventory”. Create a detailed inventory of all the items you will take with you, including photos and receipts. In the event that you need to file a claim, an up-to-date inventory will facilitate the process.

• Protect your items against theft. Always lock your dorm door and never leave your 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.

Auto insurance tips for students

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

If you attend an out-of-state school, make sure your insurance coverage follows you. This gets a bit tricky if the student is taking classes year-round and not planning to return home during the summers. Technically, they moved to their university location. It gets a bit more complex depending on whether they have on-campus or off-campus housing.

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

• Discuss the possibility of others borrowing the car. Unlike a AAA membership, auto insurance follows the car, not the driver. If your teen lends their car to a friend or roommate and there is an accident, the accident will go against the owner of the vehicle, which is usually mom and dad. This could lead to higher premiums, possibly a total vehicle, and bad feelings in general.

If you have questions, contact your insurance agent for answers.

Coverage really can be everything.

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

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