Are you safe at college?

Are you starting college or university this fall?

Have you stopped to think about the big investment you have made in some of those supplies? Consider the laptop or other computing equipment you have purchased plus items such as your cell phone, MP3 player and even your car. You've got a lot invested.

Up to this point you have likely been listed under your parent's home insurance policy. Things have changed though including your vulnerability with all these high tech devices. Identity theft is a real concern. If someone gets your personal information it can cause you a lot of grief. Instead of spending time in class you will be trying to deal with all the paperwork involved in proving who you are, and who you are not.

The other area of vulnerability is that you now have some nice valuables that could be easily disposed of in a pawnshop or the black market. So you need to think about how to protect yourself from thieves.

Being aware that you could be a target is a good start. Don't be casual about your personal security. Guard your name and your personal information. Do not write your PIN down and leave it in your wallet. Make duplicates of all your personal ID and keep them at your parent's home.

Having some nice personal possessions is great. Your friends are trustworthy. But what about friends of friends? Or that casual acquaintance who just happens to talk to the "sketchy guy" about your first-class electronics? So you need to be aware that theft is not just a casual pick it up and walk off. It can be planned and executed to be sure that you are completely cleaned out.

You are now doing risk management. You think about what you can control. Control could include engraving, keeping track of the serial numbers of your equipment, alarms, locked backpack or briefcase. You consider what you can do to avoid having a loss such as always borrow equipment or use the library, keep your dorm room door locked at all times, carry everything with you all the time and never invite friends home. Now, for what you cannot control and cannot avoid, you need insurance.

Fire safety advice

Insurance answer

The answer to the question of what type of insurance is needed is best discussed with your agent or broker. You can keep insurance coverage under your parent's policy or you might want to set up your own under a tenant's form. Some of the items you might consider insuring would include:

  • Sports equipment
  • Bicycles
  • Laptop and software
  • Camera
  • Cell Phone
  • Clothing and sundries
  • MP3s or other music devices

It is highly recommended that you consider doing up an inventory. The parent's policy might have limits on what it will cover. You need to make a decision about protecting your stuff so get all the information together.

If something does happen and you are robbed or the building catches on fire it is going to be very difficult to put a list together. See some of the articles under the "See Also" below that discuss how claims really work. There is a big difference between Replacement Cost and Actual Cash Value. Ask your agent or broker questions and keep asking until you get the answer that satisfies you.