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Insurance and college students

August 8, 2012
The Daily News

Soon, summertime fun will give way to September classes, and students will be heading off to college.

Choosing roommates, registering for classes and deciding what personal items to take to school are all considerations for a college-bound student.

Students typically bring several high value items like a computer, printer, cell phone, iPod, and/or a TV that could be very expensive to replace. One major concern of an incoming college student should be how to protect possessions while away from home.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, in recent years there have been over 41,000 annual reported incidents of burglary at and around two and four-year colleges; making theft the number one crime reported on college campuses.

"Taking some precautions and making sure that valuables are properly insured can lessen the stress for students and their parents," said Pete Kuhnmuench, Executive Director of the Insurance Institute of Michigan.

In most cases these valuable items are covered by homeowners insurance policy if the student is moving into a dorm room.

However, some home insurance policies may limit the amount of insurance for off-premises belongings to 10 percent of the total amount of coverage for personal possessions.

This means that if the parents have $70,000 worth of insurance for their belongings, only $7,000 would be applicable to possessions in the dorm. Before moving into the dorm you should check with your insurance company to see if you have this coverage.

Expensive computer and electronic equipment and items, such as jewelry may also be subject to coverage limits. If the limits are too low, parents can consider buying a special personal property floater or an endorsement for these items.

There are also stand alone insurance policies for computers and cell phones.

Students who live off campus may not be covered by their parents' policy and may need to purchase renters insurance.

Students should consult their parents' insurance professional to see if their homeowners or renters policy extends to off-campus living situations.

For students going off to college, the following tips are suggested:

Create a "dorm" inventory

Before leaving home, students should make a detailed inventory of all the items they are taking with them, and revise it every year. Writing down serial numbers for expensive electronics is also helpful in the event of a burglary. Having an up-to-date inventory will help get insurance claims settled faster in the event of theft, fire or other types of disasters. For an easy way to put together an inventory, use the Insurance Information Institute's free Home Inventory Software, available at:

Engrave electronics

Engrave electronic items such as computers, televisions and portable devices like iPods with the owner's driver's license number and state of residence. This will help police track stolen articles.

Contact an insurance agent and ask about coverage and available discounts. Whenever your living circumstances change, double check your coverage with your insurance agent to make sure items are covered and limits are appropriate.

Additionally, the Office of the Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance offers a short brochure entitled Insurance 101: A Guide to Insurance Basics for College Students, which features tips on what to think about before leaving for school.

The Office of the Wisconsin Commissioner lists the following tips:

Auto Insurance

If you are planning on taking a car to school, remember this:

If you take a car your parents own, you should still be covered under their insurance policy. If you buy your own car, you will need an individual auto insurance policy. Likewise, if you have a moped or scooter, you may want to ask your insurance agent for more information about moped insurance.

Health Insurance

Many undergraduate students may still be covered under their parents' health plan. Check with your family's health insurance company to see if you are still covered. On the other hand, if you are dropped from your parents' group health insurance or are no longer a full-time student, the federal COBRA law guarantee you the right to continue health insurance coverage.

Important notes:

- Read your policy.

- Shop around; it pays.

- Check to see if an agent or company is licensed before doing business with them.

- Call your insurance agent or company when you are having a problem.



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