College is in full swing for most students now. New bedding, totes, and other dorm necessities have been bought. And even if you are renting your first apartment, you (or mom and dad) may have bought several things to spruce up the new place. But I bet you didn’t think about these two important things while away at college. And they are much more important than the Goodwill futon you scored for the living room.
1) Renter’s Insurance
When you’re in college, it may seem like all you own is the pizza box from last night’s dinner or the library book gathering dust on your desk. However, unplanned events like fire and theft can make you realize how much your belongings are really worth. To avoid finding out once it’s too late, you need renter’s insurance.
You may think you are covered on your parents homeowner’s policy while away at college, but unfortunately this isn’t always the situation, especially if you live off campus. If you’re a renter, you may even think you don’t need insurance at all. (Your landlord already has insurance on the building, right?) But you may not realize that your landlord’s policy doesn’t cover any of your personal property. What would happen if:
- Your apartment building burned down?
- A thief broke into your town house?
- A guest slipped and injured himself in your kitchen?
- The home you’re renting suffered water damage?
Renters Insurance Protects Your Belongings
Without renters insurance, you’ve got no coverage for personal property loss or damage. Fortunately, renter’s insurance is more affordable than you think.
When I went to college, the most expensive thing that I owned was a cheap stereo. Today, that is no longer the case. You have computers, cell phones, iPads, tablets and all sorts of valuable stuff. So please don’t think you don’t have enough property to make a renters insurance policy worthwhile. But take a minute to think about what you own, and what you’ve got to lose, including:
- A TV or entertainment system
- A computer
- An iPod
- Musical or sporting equipment
I am assuming if you live off campus, you have a job or some means of paying for this splendid apartment. So go call mom and dad and tell them how responsible you are and ask them to cover you for renter’s insurance. Or man (or woman) up and pay for it yourself. Yes, it is even affordable for a college kid.
2) Power of Attorney
You may be wondering why you would need a power of attorney or what that even is. Well, let me tell you, while you are away at school spending so much time partying (er, studying), mom and dad are home worrying about all the what ifs. And there are many. Two documents I strongly recommend obtaining are a medical durable power of attorney and a general durable power of attorney (financial). If something happens to you while you’re away at college, your parents have no legal rights!
I bet you never thought about what would happen you became gravely ill or had a serious accident, but things happen and it’s important to have a plan in place to deal with these situations. You may be at college on a athletic scholarship. You may get hurt while playing that sport. Or you may be in a serious car accident. This is not a fun topic but I guarantee if you bring this up to the parents, they will actually think you are responsible (which you are, of course). Sit down and have a serious discussion about organ donation, life support, and other medical concerns to determine what you would want in terms of care during a medical emergency. Don’t, I repeat, don’t go find some form online and fill it out! This is one area where you need a professional to help you. I can suggest a very reputable estate planning attorney who will do this for an amazing price. You’re welcome.
If you are planning to spend a few weeks, a semester, or even an entire year abroad, you should definitely consider getting a durable power of attorney for finances. This will make it easier for you to take care of tasks, such as renewing your car tag or license, completing financial transactions at a bank, filing and paying taxes, and even representing you in court, if needed. You can rest easy knowing you have the help you need.
As processes and laws for powers of attorney vary by state, be sure you’ve done the research and discussed with your attorney the appropriate course of action that is right for you. And once you have the papers signed, be sure to inform your college or university.