Every fall, millions of students trade-in their childhood bedroom for college dorms, their parents for RAs, and their weird sibling for an even weirder roommate. For those students returning for their second year and beyond, they’re excited to get back to college life and perhaps off-campus living.
For many, college is a time-honored, rite of passage where young people have the opportunity to grow, expand, test out new ideas, shed old ones, and discover more about themselves and the world.
One lesson that parents often dread about their college-bound kid learning when they can’t be there to protect them is just how risky the world can be. For instance, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were approximately 12,300 cases of burglary reported in 2015.
Other commonly reported crimes included forcible sex offenses (8,000 incidents, or 29 percent of crimes) and motor vehicle theft (3,300 incidents, or 12 percent of crimes). In addition, 2,300 aggravated assaults and 1,000 robberies were reported.
These statistics can certainly be alarming and cause for stress and worry. However, another important lesson parents strive to teach their children is how to be prepared and how to protect themselves. This article will cover certain policies and protections you can put in place to protect your offspring as they spread their wings, so you don’t wear a hole in your nest.
Protecting Their Stuff
With burglaries amounting to nearly half of all on-campus crimes, taking steps to prevent theft is important but only half the battle. Reviewing your insurance coverage is the other. Here are some general guidelines:
It’s best to speak with your insurance provider or representative for specifics to see where you’re covered and where you may need additional coverage.
- Students who live in a dorm are covered under their parents’ standard homeowners insurance policies – That is, their possessions are protected by “off premise” coverage. However, some homeowners policies may limit this amount of insurance, so make sure you understand your own policy.
- Students who live off campus are likely not covered by their parents’ homeowners policy – Your insurance professional can tell you whether your homeowners or renters policy extends to off-campus living situations. If it does not, to protect student belongings, those living off campus may need to purchase their own renters insurance policy.
- Computers and smartphones may carry stand-alone insurance – If you’re getting these items new, at the time of purchase you may be offered insurance or other protections against theft or loss. Also, check the credit card used for the purchase, to see what protections might be available.
- Consider a stand-alone policy specifically designed for students living away at college – This can be an economical way to provide additional insurance coverage for a variety of disasters.
- If your college-bound student is leaving the car at home, make sure to tell your insurance agent – Depending on how far he or she is going away to school, you might be eligible for a premium discount.
The best way to deal with a loss is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are some tips:
- Leave valuables at home, if possible – While it may be necessary to take a computer or sports equipment to campus, other expensive items—such as valuable jewelry, luxury watches or costly electronics—should be left behind or kept in a local safety deposit box. These items may also be subject to coverage limits under a standard homeowners policy, so if they must be brought to campus, consider purchasing a special floater or endorsement to the homeowners policy to cover them.
- Create a “dorm inventory” – Before leaving home, students should make a detailed inventory of all the items they are taking with them, and revise it every year. Having an up-to-date inventory will help get insurance claims settled faster in the event of theft, fire or other types of disasters.
- Engrave electronics with IDs – Permanently engraving a name and other identifying information on computers, televisions, smart phones and other electronic devices can help police track stolen articles.
- Always lock dorm room doors, and keep the keys with you at all times – Know that most dorm thefts occur during the day, and even if you leave briefly, lock up. Share the theft statistics with your roommates, and get agreement that they’ll do the same.
- Don’t leave belongings unattended on campus – Classrooms, the library, the dining hall or other public areas are the primary places where property theft occurs, so keep book bags, purses and laptops with you at all times.
- Buy a laptop security cable and use it – A combination lock that needs decoding may be just enough to dissuade a thief.
- Be aware of fire hazards – Most campus fires are cooking related so be careful about the types of hot plates or microwaves you to bring to school, and how you use them.
Now that we’ve protected their belongings and provided tips to keep their stuff secure, it’s time to talk about what to do to protect your child in the event of a medical emergency where they cannot advocate for themselves or their care.
We asked Joshua S. Sklarin, Esq. from Sklarin Law L.L.C. to share some information regarding this matter.
Stepping In For Your Independent Child When They Can’t
The importance of your college-bound child (or any child 18 years old or older) executing a property Healthcare Proxy and Directive, sometimes referred to as a Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will, respectively, cannot be understated. When your child reaches the age of 18, you no longer have legal standing to make medical decisions for your child. Further, you will not be permitted access to his or her medical records under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPPA”). In the event that your child becomes medically incapacitated, these documents will allow you to make decisions regarding your child’s medical care in accordance with his or her wishes.
A Healthcare Proxy is a legal document which names you, the parent, as ‘medical agent’ for your child and grants you access to your child’s medical records under HIPPA. A Healthcare Directive is a legal document which sets forth your child’s wishes concerning what type of medical care can be administered.
Healthcare Directives can be vastly different depending on an individual’s preferences. For example, one person may want every single measure to be taken, including indefinite intubation. On the other hand, another person may opt for minimal care if, in the opinion of a medical professional, there is no chance for recovery. It is important for your child to set forth their wishes in a legally binding document, especially if you and your child do not see eye-to-eye concerning end of life care. Often the Healthcare Proxy and Directive is combined so that the medical agent is fully informed, and has written documentation, regarding the student’s appointment of you as their medical agent and his or her directions regarding the care that may be administered.
While a Healthcare Proxy and Directive are usually associated with the elderly, they are just as important for anyone 18 years old or older. If the unthinkable happens, and your 18+ year old child does not have these documents in place, you, as the parent have no legal standing to make medical decisions on their behalf. In order to ensure that you are able to medically advocate for your incapacitated child, a Healthcare Proxy and Healthcare Directive are necessary.
If you’d like more information about setting up a Healthcare Proxy and Direct, please contact Joshua S. Sklarin, Esq. at (732) 605-6500 or [email protected].
Always There, Always Connected
One wish that every parent may have had at one time or another is to be able to be by their child’s side at all times to ensure they’re safe, secure, and protected but give them the freedom and space to grow into mature, responsible adults.
Consider that wish granted thanks to technology and a few services by ADT that our frequent referral partner, Mark Mayer, shared with us.
ADT’s new mobile safety app, ADT Go, has features that help families keep track of one another such as Family Location Sharing, SOS Emergency Response, Crash Detection, and more.
If you’d like more information about this product, please contact Mark Mayer at (732) 841-1972 or [email protected].
College is an exciting time in everyone’s life and no one wants to dim the excitement, the hope, and the promise that embarking on such a new journey brings. We want to help you make the most of this time by ensuring that proper protections are in place so you and your college-bound child can have peace of mind.
Don’t wait until orientation or the first day of the semester. Call us today at (732) 566-003.