By Maura Keller
IT’S NOT UNCOMMON these days for students to arrive at college with any combination of a laptop, TV, tablet, Blu-ray player,
gaming system, cellphone and other devices.
All these gadgets increase the chance of
expensive replacement costs if anything is
damaged or stolen.
“Insuring those items is an important and
practical step to manage expenses should an
unfortunate event occur,” advises Chad
Giesen, division manager, homeowners, at
Ameriprise Auto & Home Insurance. “People
sometimes assume that students who live offor near campus have insurance for their possessions under their parents’ policies when, in
fact, that is not always the case.
“They may also not understand the
importance of including high-ticket items on
a policy. Without this important step, the
items may not be insured for their full value
and coverage would be a fraction of the
amount needed should [breakage, theft or
some other event] occur.”
Before your college student heads off to
hit the books, take the time to evaluate what
changes you might need to make to your
insurance policies to protect his or her belong-
ings in the case of theft, damage, or loss.
“Insurance policies vary from one insurer
to another, so it is important to get an insurance professional’s risk management perspective on what coverage is needed and to what
extent existing policies cover those needs,” says
Ann Myhr, a senior director of knowledge
resources at The Institutes ( theinstitutes.org),
a provider of resources for the risk management and property-casualty industry.
Some coverage may be available under
your homeowners and personal auto policies
that could extend to the student who is away at
school. “In general, a child who resided in the
household prior to attending school is included
within the definition of an insured on a homeowners policy up to age 24,” says Myhr.
That said, there may be limitations on the
amount of coverage for personal property
away from the parents’ home, including
clothing, jewelry, audio equipment, furniture
and electronic equipment. There also may be
time limitations, which could
result in no coverage for property
left in a dormitory over summer
breaks or during other periods.
“Any deductibles or exclusions under the family policy
would also apply to a student’s
personal property while they are
away at school,” Myhr says.
As Giesen explains, if students
live away from home year-round,
their possessions are not covered
by their parents’ home insurance
policies. In this case, students may
want to consider purchasing a
renter’s insurance policy to obtain
appropriate coverage. These policies can be relatively inexpensive,
and a valuable source of protection and peace of mind.
The cost of renter’s insurance
or a student property insurance
policy is typically about $25 a
month, depending on the value of
the items being insured.
Compare apples to apples
Although some colleges offer insurance
to students or families to cover students’
belongings if they reside on campus, Giesen
says families may want to consider first getting a quote for a renter’s insurance policy and
then compare the cost and coverage with the
insurance offered on campus.
“This ‘apples to apples’ comparison will
help families decide which option is the best
fit for them,” Giesen says.
“Also, when buying computers or TVs
from consumer electronics stores, the stores
may offer protection against accidental damage or theft for a fee that may be less expensive than covering all of the student’s
belongings,” says Mark Kantrovitz, senior vice
president and publisher at evisors.com, a
financial aid information website.
Make a list
It’s a good idea to create an inventory of
all the personal property a student is taking to
college. This will make filing claims easier,
especially when you record model numbers
and serial numbers.
Finally, don’t wait until an event happens,
such as theft of a laptop, to determine if the
current insurance coverage is appropriate.
“It is important to be proactive,” Myhr
says. “Be sure to review a family’s insurance
program whenever a life event, such as a child
starting college or moving away from home
for other reasons, occurs.” C
Costco member Maura Keller is a
Minneapolis-based freelancer and author.
Insuring your college student
back to school
The Costco Connection
Costco offers insurance services, including
auto, home, health and life. Click “Services”
on Costco.com. Costco offers Square Trade
protection plans for most electronic devices.
Search “Square Trade” on Costco.com.
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