THE WEATHER AND CALENDAR still say "summer", but students are already heading back to school. There are important insurance considerations for students of all ages. High tech toys such as cell phones, laptops, and video games are attractive targets for theft. Although generally covered under the parents' homeowners policy, values will often not exceed the policy deductible. The cost of specific scheduled coverage may be prohibitive. These items should be left at home whenever possible. In addition to property exposures, liability is also a consideration. Damage to school property, or acts of bullying by students older than 12 are excluded under most homeowners policies as intentional acts. Parents could end up paying for these dam­ages or injuries.

Back to school also means automobile exposures. According to SafeKids USA, one out of every six drivers in school zones is distracted. Students must exercise caution when walking through parking lots and crossing streets. Commuters must use extra care in parking lots to avoid collisions with other cars or pedestrians, and avoid distractions while driving. Cars should be locked when unattended, with electronics and other valuables out of sight.

Going away to school is an exciting time for children and their parents. But, in addition to choosing classes, finding a place to live and making new friends, there are important issues that every college student needs to think about, such as safety and insurance. Helping students and their parents understand the exposures and provide proper protection is another value-added service of the professional insurance agent.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there were 6000 on-campus fires in 2008. Most of these were cooking related. Appliances - hot plates, microwaves, etc. - should never be left unattended. College students living away from home need to take precautions. Living in a dorm is no different than staying in a hotel. Students should familiarize themselves with the nearest, as well as alternate, exits. Keeping a fire extinguisher handy is always a good idea.