Insurance Tips for College Students
Now that your college students are back on campus for the new school year, now is a good time to review your insurance coverage to make sure that you have the coverage they need while they are at school. College is expensive enough without finding out too late that an accident or theft isn’t covered under your current policies. Keep in mind that policy language varies from state to state, and there are never one-size-fits-all situations, but below is a general guide. If you have questions or want to go over your insurance needs, don’t hesitate to contact Gallagher.
HOMEOWNERS (may vary by state and individual policy)
- Coverage of personal property: Most homeowners policies provide 10% of Coverage C (Personal Property) for property owned by an insured's premise location. For example, if the contents of a policyholder’s home are insured for $100,000, a student’s property up to $10,000 would be covered if living in a dormitory, provided the damage is caused by a covered peril and the student meets the definition of an insured. For apartments or houses off-campus, the same coverage generally applies. Certain items, such as jewelry or expensive electronics, may require special coverage, or a "rider". Renters insurance is strongly recommended if a particular policy does not cover a student’s personal property.
- Liability coverage: There usually is an exclusion for damage to property rented to an insured, so generally damage to a dorm room or apartment would not be covered.
- Ensuring adequate coverage: Contact Gallagher to get specific answers and information about your coverages. Also, it’s a great idea to create an inventory of the items your student is taking to school, as is keeping receipts, photos and videos of all items.
- Renters insurance: If your student’s needs can’t be met under your current policy, consider purchasing renters/tenants insurance. Landlords’ policies generally only cover the structure, not the possessions of renters.
AUTO (may vary by state)
- Coverage without a car at school: If your student will continue to drive while at home on school breaks, they should continue to be listed on your auto policy. If they are attending school more than 100 miles from home and are not taking a vehicle with them, the policy may qualify for a distant-student discount.
- Coverage with a car at school: In most instances, a car registered to parents and listed on their policy will be covered if used by a listed student away at school. But you should make sure that your insurance carrier writes coverage in the college’s state and location. And note that a change to the principal location of the vehicle could result in a change in premium.
- Driving a friend’s car at school: Students generally would be covered while driving a friend’s car if the students are listed on their parents’ policy and do not have regular use of the vehicle. The coverage would likely be secondary in this case, as the carrier for the friend’s vehicle likely would be the primary coverage.
- Coverage discounts: In addition to the distant-student discount mentioned above, students may qualify for a good-student discount. To qualify, most insurance carriers require that a student must be enrolled in at least four courses per term as a full-time student at an accredited college or university and meet certain academic qualifications. Also, drivers under the age of 21 who complete a driver education course may be eligible for a policy discount.
Going away to school is an exciting time for both students and their parents. Making sure you’ve got the right insurance coverage can help you protect your assets as you invest in your child’s future.
Contact Gallagher for a comprehensive review of your entire personal insurance portfolio.
Your Role in Cybersecurity
Creating and maintaining a safe and secure cyberspace is key to preventing your private information—such as your Social Security number and your bank account numbers—from landing in the hands of individuals who would use it for their benefit. The concepts of fraud and identity theft aren’t new, but the proliferation of internet-connected devices has made it increasingly easy for people to fall victim to potentially damaging scams.
TIPS ON KEEPING YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY SAFE FROM A CYBERTHREAT
The number of ways that you can fall victim to a cyber incident are numerous. What makes matters worse is, these days, you don’t even have to turn your computer on to be at risk. Smartphones, and their ability to connect to the internet from just about any location, have served to complicate matters. Check out these tips for keeping yourself, your family and your information safe from cyberthreats.
- Use caution when reading and opening emails. Far too many people take a lackadaisical approach to reading email messages. But even those who are vigilant and don’t open messages from parties they don’t know can be at risk. Remember, the email accounts of your friends and acquaintances can be easily hacked. Simply because you’re receiving a message from your best friend doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear. With that in mind, never click any hyperlinks in email messages you receive. This will prevent you from inadvertently launching a website that’s programmed to take over your computer and give a hacker access to all of the private information you have stored within it. The same goes for your smartphone.
- Don’t open or download an email attachment unless you are certain of its origin or have verified it is legitimate. This is one of the easiest ways viruses can be transmitted to your computer. By unknowingly downloading a virus sent to you by a cyberattacker, you may be effectively unlocking the door and giving them free reign to your private information. Most email programs have an option you can select to turn off the automatic download of email attachments. To play it safe, turn off automatic downloads.
- Never offer personal information, such as bank account numbers, credit card numbers or your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you via email. The same goes for those who attempt to contact you through social media, text or even by phone. The job of cybercriminials and identity thieves are often made simple by the unknowing actions of their victims, and it’s your responsibility to be aware of these tactics. Even if the individual you’re speaking to is able to give you specific information about yourself (such as your address or the fact that you have a line of credit with a specific retailer), this doesn’t mean they’re on the up-and-up. Always ask for a callback number so that you can instigate the conversation if you believe the request to be legitimate.
- Set secure passwords and change them frequently. The most difficult to crack passwords are those that contain a combination of capital letters, numbers and symbols. But even these passwords can be at risk of being compromised if you don’t change them often. As a best practice, take the time to change your email, social media, online banking and online credit card logins on a monthly basis.
- Protect your computer with an antivirus scanner. Some antivirus programs work better than others, and it’s your duty to ensure that whatever program you’re using is from a reputable source. Additionally, be sure to enable automatic updates so that the antivirus software is always current. The same goes for your computer’s operating system and your browser. These are frequently updated with security patches that will keep your computer better protected. Check out this valuable resource, which will help you take advantage of the many free security checkups you can get from reputable software providers online.
SHARING THE RESPONSIBILITY
Threats to cybersecurity can put not only your private information at risk, but can also jeopardize the safe operation of the infrastructure of the country. For this reason, it’s everyone’s shared responsibility to educate themselves on the best ways to remain cyber safe, whether at home or at work. To learn more about staying safe online, visit www.staysafeonline.org.
Contact Gallagher to learn more about the options available to insure your cyber liability risk.
Backing Up Important Documents
Although most of us don’t like to think of a fire, flood or earthquake destroying our home and all of our possessions, the truth is that it can — and does — happen. And when you’re caught up in the middle of a disaster, gathering all of your important documents is probably the last thing on your mind. But since you’ll need these documents to get your affairs back in order after such an event, it’s wise to store the originals and copies in one or more safe locations.
MAKE COPIES OF CERTAIN DOCUMENTS
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), you should have the following documents available in case of an emergency:
- Vital records. A wide variety of documents fit under this category, and you should make sure to have multiple copies of each of them: birth certificates, Social Security cards, adoption papers, passports, driver’s licenses, state IDs, permanent resident cards and naturalization papers. Also include marriage certificates, divorce decrees, child custody papers, military IDs and military discharge forms.
- Don’t forget about family pets. You should make sure to have current photos, their ID chip numbers, and vaccination and medical records.
- Property records. These include real estate deeds, mortgage documents, rental agreements, and vehicle and boat registrations. Take the time to create a household inventory list, and take and store photos of every item.
- Insurance policies. Even if you have online accounts, print out policy information for health, life, auto, and homeowners or renters insurance. Don’t forget to include any information on specialty insurance coverage, such as earthquake, flood or disability. Make sure you have contact numbers handy for each insurance company.
- Medical documents. Health insurance ID cards, medical records, immunization records, medication lists, physician names and contact details should be copied and filed for each family member. Try to get a hold of dental records, too.
- Estate planning documents. These include power of attorney documents, attorney names and contact details, trusts, wills, and funeral instructions.
- Financial documents. Save checking, savings and credit card account numbers. Include investment documents, retirement account and brokerage information, and stock and bond certificates. Also, having the first two pages of your federal and state tax returns for at least the previous year is a good idea.
BEYOND VITAL DOCUMENTS
If disaster strikes, you may not have a working cellphone or access to a computer right away. Keep a printed list of important contacts and login details for your most important online accounts.
Documents aren’t the only thing you should store safely. Remember to have a copy of the key to your safe deposit box, an external hard drive or flash drive to back up important computer files, and printed photographs of each family member and important events, such as weddings.
WHERE TO STORE DOCUMENTS
Now that you know which documents you need to keep track of and make copies of, where should you store them? It’s advisable to keep all your original documents in a safe deposit box, which you can usually rent at your bank on an annual basis. Alternatively, you can keep them in a fireproof lockbox or safe in your home, but keep in mind that the box would still be vulnerable during a flood or earthquake.
Leave copies with a trusted family member or friend, or with your attorney if you have one. It’s also advisable to scan or take photos of documents, then save them to USB flash drives. Keep one drive in your safe deposit box or fireproof safe, and keep another in a safe location away from your home. You can also create a digital archive to back up your documents to the cloud. Keep in mind that cybersecurity is critical — your account should only be accessible to you and should include multistep authentication.
When disaster strikes, you want to be prepared. By gathering your important documentation and storing both the originals and copies in safe locations, you’ll have one less thing to worry about — allowing you to better focus on getting your life back in order and caring for loved ones. Contact Gallagher to ensure all your insurance policies are in order.
Gallagher in action
“It’s a labor of love for sure, but earning the trust (and kisses) of dogs and knowing we’ve been part of saving lives while raising the profile of rescue is completely worth it!” — Melissa BlakeApproximately five years ago, Melissa Blake, Gallagher Florida CSR, began volunteering as a photographer with Pawsitive Shelter Photography (PSP). Melissa, along with a team of volunteers, visit the Orange County Animal Services and take professional photos of the dogs that are up for adoption. The team gives the dogs treats, rubs their bellies, plays ball and sometimes chases the kiddie pools when they go running off with them. The dogs often pick out their own bow tie, flower or bandana, and Melissa helps them smile to look their best for their professional photos. It’s a team effort requiring patience, love and sense of humor.
Client service spotlight
Gallagher is committed to making our clients’ lives easier every step of the way. Congratulations to Lori Handeli, CSR, for carrying out our commitment!
Lori Handeli is not afraid of getting her hands dirty. Her client needed assistance getting her mortgage lender to release payments from her escrow to keep her policies active. This simple request led to several back and forth communications between Lori, the mortgage lender, the insurance carrier and the client for several weeks. With Lori Handeli’s persistence, she was able to track down the lost payment and coverages were activated.
“Lori, you are the BEST!! Thank you for dealing with my most difficult lender. I will be sending you my car insurance info ASAP. All the best! —Mary Riddle, Ventnor City, NJ
The information contained herein is offered as insurance industry guidance and provided as an overview of current market risks and available coverages and is intended for discussion purposes only. This publication is not intended to offer legal advice or client-specific risk management advice. Any description of insurance coverages is not meant to interpret specific coverages that your company may already have in place or that may be generally available. General insurance descriptions contained herein do not include complete insurance policy definitions, terms, and/or conditions, and should not be relied on for coverage interpretation. Actual insurance policies must always be consulted for full coverage details and analysis.
Insurance brokerage and related services to be provided by Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, Inc. (License No. 0D69293) and/or its affiliate Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Insurance Brokers of California, Inc. (License No. 0726293).