New post-secondary students have now started the next exciting phase in their lives with classes at colleges and universities well underway. No doubt parents have done their best to ensure their children are well-equipped for this major life transition. However, with new surroundings come new risks - risks that may not be covered under current insurance policies.
A child leaving for college is the perfect opportunity to analyze your insurance coverage and make sure the policies suit your changed needs. Now that you've dropped your child off at their dorm, it is important to review your policy and make any adjustments needed to ensure common college student risks are covered.
Begin by equipping your child's new computer with solid protection against identity theft. College students are surprisingly vulnerable to this crime because they often use public or shared computers, log into unsecured wireless networks, and post personal information on social networking sites. Protect them by putting the following precautions into place before they arrive on campus:
- Anti-virus protection: Install the latest version of a proven anti-virus software program on their computer.
- Robust passwords: Be sure your student's passwords - especially the ones used to access bank accounts back home - contain a mix of numbers and letters that will frustrate identity thieves. Advise them to change passwords periodically.
- Privacy protection: Caution your child to avoid unsecured wireless networks and never leave their computer unattended in a public place.
Concerned parents need to be aware that cyber threats aren't the only potential risk of campus life. College students need the same type of traditional protection against health, property, and life hazards that their parents and siblings at home do.
College can be expensive, even after tuition's been paid. Students living on their own will need clothing, furniture, computers, textbooks and any number of other essentials. If these were to be damaged or stolen, would you be able to come up with thousands of dollars on the spot to replace them? Check now to see if your homeowner's insurance policy covers their property. If not, purchase a separate tenant policy to protect their possessions.
It's important that you and your children away at school are protected against financial loss from health issues. If you are unable to keep your child on your private health insurance plan because of age or other factors, you should make sure they have a plan of their own. Additionally, if a student becomes seriously ill and is forced to miss a school term, there is the risk that tuition already paid will be lost.
Whether driving around town or heading home during breaks, many college students will find themselves behind the wheel while they're away from home. With this in mind parents should make proper auto insurance coverage a priority. Special deals may be available if your child is attending college away from home, so keeping insurers updated on your child's situation is important. You'll also want to understand how a child driving in another city, province or country may impact coverage. In some cases, if an insurer is not kept apprised they may refuse to cover costs.
It may also be wise to take a look at your life insurance policies when your child leaves for college. If something were to happen to you while your child is still in a precarious financial position, they should know that they will have some financial security. The right life insurance policy can provide this.
The move from home to college is one of life's biggest milestones. It is also an ideal occasion to schedule an insurance review with your HUB broker. Maintaining the right insurance coverage is a great way to model the responsible financial behavior you hope your child will emulate through their college years and beyond.