There’s another springtime rite of passage that happens across the country, and we see it every year right here in Luzerne County – college students unload vehicles and carry boxes of stuff into their dorm rooms.

Yes, these are the times when college students bring everything they think they will need to not only prepare them for the academic challenges of college, but they also bring everything they need to help them feel comfortable as they begin pursuing their degrees.

Being away from home is an adjustment and having those little memories of what life used to be like when they were in high school and living at home, these items are extremely important for students who find themselves in a new city, meeting new friends and dealing with the demands of college professors.

So my friends at AAA Mid-Atlantic say that going from high school graduate to junior is an exciting milestone, and leaving home is part of the process for many.

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

That’s right here – review your insurance policy.

Dorm rooms can be a hotspot for burglars, according to Consumer Reports. Two roommates can only have electronics worth $6,000 or more — laptops, tablets, smartphones and gaming systems — and other valuables in their small living space.

According to the US Department of Education’s data on property crimes reported on college campuses, burglary and theft of personal property are the most common crimes, followed by auto theft.

“College students who live away from home should be aware that they may have limited coverage under their parents’ insurance policies,” said Colleen Giovetsis, territory manager for AAA Retail Insurance Sales. “Before leaving for college, students should check to see what risks and liabilities are covered.”

Some insurance tips for students

• If you live in a dormitory, some personal possessions may be covered by your parents’ or renter’s homeowner’s insurance policies. Expensive items like computers and other electronics may be subject to coverage limits under a standard homeowners policy, and some states require a special student endorsement.

• If you live off campus, purchase renters insurance. Renters insurance is necessary to protect you and your belongings and can protect you from liability in the event that someone is accidentally injured on the property.

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

• Create a “dorm inventory”. Create a detailed inventory of all the items you will be taking with you, including photos and receipts. In the event that you need to file a claim, an up-to-date inventory will help ease the process.

• Protect your belongings from theft. Always lock your dorm room door and never leave belongings unattended on campus. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the library, dining hall and other public places are common areas where property theft occurs on campus.

Car 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 stay on your parent’s policy, coverage will likely still apply.

If you attend school out of state, make sure your insurance coverage follows you. It gets a little tricky if the student takes classes all year and doesn’t plan on coming home for the summer. Technically, they have moved to their college location. It gets a little more complex 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 from school, contact your insurance agent.

• Discuss letting others borrow the car. Unlike AAA membership, car insurance follows the car, not the driver. If your teen lends their car to a friend or roommate and has an accident, the crash will go against whoever owns the vehicle—which is usually mom and dad. This can lead to higher premiums, possibly a totaled vehicle and general bad feelings.

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

Coverage really can be anything.

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

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