Back to School Safety: Protect more than just their stuff!

Back to School Safety: Protect more than just their stuff!

back to school

This time each year, it seems the media is full of back to school safety and protection tips advising parents and college students on how to protect their “stuff.” While such guidance is helpful, these glib articles commonly ignore the host of 21st-century risks that can expose a family’s assets and jeopardize the welfare of their child. Consider, for example, the unintended risks facing college students that can arise from their frequent use of technology and social media.

Every college student’s parent understands the degree to which their child seems tethered to their smartphone and other connected technology. The common condition of being too connected has been termed “virtual addiction,” a condition so common this website offers an online questionnaire to help the public examine the degree to which “addiction” best describes their relationship with technology (the results are eye-opening). Whether the student’s use of technology qualifies as an addiction or not, very few college students today are not at least very heavy users of modern technology.

Thanks largely to technology and social media, today’s college students face risks that are far more grave than a stolen laptop! Consider the following risks that can arise from the improper and unmonitored use of modern technology at every student’s disposal:

  • Breach of privacy
  • Computer malware or virus
  • Stolen identity and personal information
  • Misuse of social media that can cause harm to another
  • Texting, emailing, Snapchatting, taking selfies, or just plain talking on a cell phone while driving
  • Sending, receiving, and or forwarding illegal content
  • Phishing scams
  • Ransomware or social engineering
  • Cyberbullying
  • Hacking into smart devices

The insurance industry can help parents and students to better prepare for the above back to school safety issues and several others. This helpful article from Chubb offers practical protection insights for those seeking to protect their children while in college. In addition to having a complete discussion with your college-bound student about the risks that can arise from their misuse of technology, the following are additional specific protection recommendations we can also offer:

  1. Make sure the homeowner policy that provides primary liability protection for family members includes coverage for “personal injury” related risks: libel, slander, defamation, and other verbal torts. MANY homeowner policies do not! Be sure to supplement this primary liability protection with adequate excess liability insurance.
  2. If your college student is at school using a car, install a device that restricts the use of their cell phone while operating that car! A number of apps exist to prevent texting while driving and promote safe driving practices in general. And why not also take this step for those children driving cars while at home? Preventing distracted driving is achievable and a cause that we are passionate about.

While several risks are often left unexamined when children leave home for college, the personal risk advisers representing Wells Insurance are great resources to help consumers address those back to school safety risks.

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