Yes, it’s that time of year again; time to get the kids back to school! Whether it’s the emotional first day of kindergarten, the transition to middle school or high school, moving on to college, or any other “ordinary” year in the same school, there’s a lot to get ready for. While you are frantically trying to get the backpacks and binders with the character your kid is obsessed with or trying to find the best deal on the mini-fridge your college student must have, the last thing on your mind is probably your insurance protection. But try to find a little time to consider the insurance issues around going back to school.
Here are a few reminders of some of the things to consider at this busy back-to-school time. Take a minute to study up on some insurance lessons as you finish up these lazy, hazy days of summer.
New Ages, New Stages
School age children often begin to develop interests and hobbies, some of which can come with expensive equipment. You’ll want to make sure that your homeowner’s insurance is up to date and costly items are properly itemized. You also should make sure you have replacement cost on your contents coverage so if an old item (such as a game console or TV) is damaged you can replace it with a bright, shiny new one!
No doubt your children are going to start bringing their friends home to hang out at your house or spend countless hours playing video games. Should an unfortunate incident arise and a visitor gets hurt, it’s important to know that you’re adequately covered for legal fees, awarded damages or medical payments to others.
Bullying, both cyber and traditional is a growing problem. Whether actual or perceived, a lawsuit against you is not only emotionally draining but potentially very costly – even if it has no merit! Unfortunately, kids can also cause damage to another person’s property, either accidentally or intentionally, and it’s important to protect yourself if a court finds you responsible for your child’s actions. Liability coverage can help protect your assets in case of litigation.
Teen Drivers and College Life – A New Set of Risks and Worries
Kids love the freedom of a driver’s license, but young and inexperienced drivers are more at risk for accidents. It’s important to set clear ground rules for your teen driver. These might include limiting passengers (or not allowing them at all) or taking the car straight to school and back without detours. One non-negotiable rule should be absolutely no cell phone use (including texting, photos, videos or social media) while driving. Remember also, kids learn and justify their actions by watching you – don’t expect your kids to put down the phone if you don’t as well.
Moving on to college doesn’t eliminate the insurance burden. In fact, it creates new challenges. If you invest in the right coverage, your child’s personal possessions will be protected under your homeowner’s policy for losses due to theft and fire if he or she is living in a dorm, a sorority house, or other on-campus housing. But in the case of off-campus housing, you may want to consider renter’s insurance or extending liability from your homeowner’s policy.
If your child is taking a car to school, be sure they understand how auto insurance works. Because coverage follows the vehicle and not the driver, they should use extreme caution when loaning their car to a friend. If your child’s friend totals the car, it’s your coverage on the hook and your responsibility to cover the deductible.
If the car remains at home, there are still some things to consider. Many insurance companies offer discounts when a driver will be away from home for the duration of the school year. There may be a mileage threshold; typically the school must be at least 100 miles away. It’s worth asking to save a few dollars off your premium!
We know you don’t need additional incentive to encourage your kids to study, but here’s another tip: Most insurance companies will offer a credit if a student maintains a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Do Your Homework
In between shopping for new school clothes and taking those first day photos, life can get pretty busy. Before you know it, it’ll be afternoons filled with homework, sports practice and club meetings. Don’t get caught off guard! Finding out you’re not protected when you need it can be devastating. Take a few minutes to assess where your family is in this season and then take the necessary steps to protect them where you are right now.