AAA Mid-Atlantic: Theft is top on-campus crime

WILKES-BARRE — theft of personal property is the most common crime reported on college campuses, followed by motor vehicle theft, according to a recent U.S. Department of Education report looking at crime data.

Add to that a 2015 Consumer Reports study that found that dorm rooms can be a hot spot for thieves. The report showed that two college roommates could have as much as $6,000 wort of electronics alone — laptops, tablets, smartphones and gaming systems — as well as other items of value in their small living space.

“College students living away from home should know they may have limited coverage under their parents’ insurance policies,” said Tom McManus, vice president of Insurance for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Before leaving for college, students should check to see what risks and liabilities are covered.”

AAA Mid-Atlantic reminds college students and their parents/caregivers of an important step before heading off to school, one that very few think of: review your insurance policy.

AAA offers the following homeowners- and renters-insurance tips for students:

• If you live in a dorm, some personal possessions may be covered under your parents’ homeowners or renters insurance policies. Expensive items such as 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 accidentally gets injured on the property.

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

• Create a detailed “dorm inventory” of all items you’ll 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 make the process easier.

• Safeguard your items 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 the primary areas where property theft occurs on campus.

Auto insurance tips

• Coverage may depend on whether you leave home or stay in the area. If you bring a car to campus and remain on your parents’ policy, coverage likely still applies. If you attend an out-of-state school, make sure your insurance coverage follows you.

It gets a little tricky if the student takes classes year-round and does not plan to return home during the summers. Technically, they have relocated to their college location. It gets a little more complex if they have on-campus or off-campus housing.

• Check with your insurance agent to see what discounts you may qualify for and to ensure you have adequate coverage while away at school.

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