Beyond the Byline: AAA advises college-bound students on adjusting insurance

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

Yes, this is the time when college students bring everything they feel will not only prepare them for the academic challenges of college, but also everything they need to help them feel comfortable as they pursue their degree.

Being away from home is an adjustment and those little reminders of what life was like when they were in high school and living at home, these items are important for students as they find themselves in a new city, meeting new friends and dealing with them. Demand of college professors.

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

AAA reminds college students and their parents of important steps — that few think about — before heading off to school.

There it is – review your insurance policy.

Dorm rooms can be hot spots for burglars, according to Consumer Reports. Two roommates can have $6,000 or more worth of electronics alone — laptops, tablets, smartphones and gaming systems — as well as other items of value in their small living space.

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s statistics on reported property crimes on college campuses, burglary and theft of personal property are the most common crimes, followed by motor vehicle theft.

“College students living away from home should be aware that they may have limited coverage under their parents’ insurance policies,” said Colleen Giovetssis, area manager for AAA retail insurance sales. “Before going to college, students should check what risks and liabilities are covered.”

Some insurance tips for students

• If you live in a dorm, some personal possessions may be covered under your parents’ homeowners or renters 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 special student endorsements.

• If you live off campus, purchase renters insurance. Renters insurance is essential to protect you and your belongings, and can protect you from liability if someone accidentally damages the property.

• Leave valuables at home. While some valuables such as laptops may be required on campus, items such as expensive jewelry may be left at home.

• Create a “Student List”. Create a detailed list of all the items you will be taking with you, including photos and receipts. In the event you need to file a claim, an up-to-date list will help make the process easier.

• Protect your items from theft. Always lock your dorm room door and never leave belongings on campus. According to the Insurance Information Institute, libraries, dining halls and other public spaces are common areas where property is stolen on campus.

Auto insurance tips for students

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

If you attend school out of state, make sure your insurance coverage follows you. It’s a little trickier if the student takes classes year-round and doesn’t plan on returning home for the summer. Technically, they moved to their college location. 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 away at school, contact your insurance agent.

• Discuss lending a car to others. Unlike AAA membership, car insurance follows the car, not the driver. If your teen lends his car to a friend or roommate and there’s an accident, the accident goes against whoever owns the vehicle — which is usually mom and dad. This can make for higher premiums, possibly a totaled vehicle and overall bad feelings.

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

Coverage can really be everything.

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

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