Sending Your Child Off To School? Make Sure You're Covered!

It's finally time for your son or daughter to leave the nest and go off to school, but as they're packing up all their worldly possessions, you need to take the time to review your insurance policy. Why? Your child will want to take everything with them - clothes, books, and electronics - and if anything is stolen or damaged you'll likely be the one footing the bill. Luckily, most home insurance policies will provide some coverage - but learn the limitations before you let your child leave with everything, otherwise you could be disappointed when you have to make a claim.

Understanding Your Policy

If your child lives with you immediately before leaving for school, then he or she is entitled to coverage on their personal belongings that they take with them. Most insurers limit the dollar value that they will be willing to pay in case of a claim, so it is important that you check this before your child takes extraneous items with them. Policies and coverage vary amongst insurers, especially depending on whether your child is living on-campus or off-campus, so check carefully!

It is important to consider the types of belongings your child is taking with them, as some specialty items such as musical equipment, electronics, bikes or sports gear may only be covered for a limited value. You may need to add additional coverage to insure everything or encourage your child to leave non-necessities at home. Reviewing the terms of your policy will help clarify the details, and you should contact your insurance provider with any additional questions. If you're in the process of renewing your policy, check home insurance quotes for this type of specialized coverage, and choose one that suits you and your child accordingly.

Know What You Need to Insure

Once you know how much your insurance policy will cover it's time for you and your son or daughter to take inventory of the belongings they plan to take with them to determine the total value. Leave the inventory at home in a safe place, where it can be referred to in the event that a claim needs to be made.

My Coverage Won't Cover It

If the amount of your insurance coverage for a student living away from home is less than the cost to replace their belongings then you have a few options:

1.   Ask your child to leave some items at home. Seasonal items or excess electronic equipment may be better off in the safety of your home. Besides, most dorm rooms only have room for the basics.

2.   Acquire a stand-alone insurance policy. Such policies can be purchased to cover all of your child's belongings, or just items that aren't covered by your existing policy. These types of policies are usually created for students and tend to be affordable.

3.   Get tenant's insurance. If your child is living off-campus then this may be a better idea than other types of insurance. A student off-campus is at a higher risk of burglary than one on-campus, so this way you can ensure that they are covered for all their belongings. Luckily it's relatively easy to find cheap home insurance for tenants and their possessions.

Take Precautions

While having insurance is a necessary safety net, ideally, prevention is the best way to avoid having a problem while your child is at school.

-   Review common safety procedures (i.e. locking doors at all times) at their new residence with your child to reduce the likelihood that they will be a victim. Leave non-essential valuables at home.

-   Always keep an eye on personal belongings. At the library, in a coffee shop, or hanging out in a common area with friends it's easy to leave personal articles unattended. Remind your child that theft is often a crime of opportunity, so leaving their laptop or iPod unattended will likely cause it to disappear.

-   Engrave any personal items of value with the student ID number provided by the school, or a driver's license number.

Going away to school should be an exciting adventure, and an experience your child will enjoy. By making sure that you have all the appropriate insurance coverage in place in the event of an unfortunate loss, your child can feel secure that their possessions are covered, and you can rest a little easier with one less thing to worry about.