Protecting College Students From Theft, Damage, or Loss on Campus

Burglary is a major problem on many campuses, and theft of electronics is rampant. The good news is that there are ways students can protect the items they value the most. But the first step is recognizing what they're up against.

Every fall, millions of students travel to college campuses to live on their own for the first time ever. Others are returning to university environments for another semester of independent living, either residing in dorms or at off-campus apartments. For new and returning students alike, safety is a big issue: virtually all campuses sponsor safety awareness programs to help students stay secure.

Most of the programs focus on staying safe from assault, but that’s not the only crime students have to worry about; burglary is a major problem on many campuses, and theft of electronics is also rampant, not just on college campuses, but everywhere. The good news is that there are ways students can protect the items they value the most. But the first step is recognizing what they’re up against.

Campus crime: burglaries

Property crimes are an issue nationwide, and college campuses are no exception. FBI statistics show that there were more than two million burglaries reported in 2011, making up approximately 25% of all property crimes. An analysis of 2010 FBI crime statistics shows that small and large colleges and universities nationwide are vulnerable. Here are the 10 schools with the most burglaries reported according to FBI reports (number of burglaries in parentheses):

  1. University of California—Los Angeles (198)
  2. Ohio State University (142)
  3. Benedict College (123)
  4. Arizona State University (119)
  5. Florida State University (118)
  6. University of Alabama—Tuscaloosa (113)
  7. South Carolina State University (101)
  8. State University of New York—Stony Brook (99)
  9. University of Washington (98)
  10. State University of New York—Buffalo (94)

These campus settings range from urban to more rural, from small, private colleges to large, public universities, which illustrates the pervasiveness of the problem. Virtually all students on any campus can fall victim to a burglary, which means they can lose the valuable electronics they depend on as well as other personal items that make living away from home possible.

Despite this, few college students bother to insure their possessions, even though most have valuable electronics, appliances, clothing, and other items they would need to replace immediately if stolen. It could be because many are new to living on their own and are therefore not accustomed to thinking about insurance. They may not know coverage is available specifically for rented lodgings or dorm rooms. Lack of money may be another factor: the stereotype of the broke college student isn’t far from reality for many, and they may not realize they can afford coverage.

The truth is, students who fall victim to an on- or off-campus burglary may find that they can’t afford not to have coverage. By adding up the out-of-pocket costs of replacing essential items and comparing it to the highly affordable plans that are available on the market, students and their parents can get the information they need to make an informed decision.

Students and smartphones

Another potentially costly aspect of college life is the likelihood of losing or damaging a mobile device. A recent Google Consumer Survey from Protect Your Bubble polled 500 college students and recent graduates and found that nearly a third had broken or lost a smartphone or had their device stolen.

More than 10% of the damaged or stolen smartphones went missing or were broken at parties and clubs. Many were lost or broken at sporting events, and alcohol was frequently a factor: over 10% of males surveyed reported that they were too intoxicated to remember exactly how their device sustained damage or got lost.

With the high rate of smartphone and tablet device ownership today, parents may be just as likely as their college-age children to own and use a mobile device. But the Millennial generation, which comprises traditional college-age students, tends to be more dependent on their mobile devices for everyday life. A smartphone is how many students communicate with family and friends, keep up with news and schedules, conduct banking and shopping, and even stay informed about events on campus.

For that reason, students who lose or damage a mobile device may find it extremely difficult to function without it. And if they don’t have adequate coverage against loss, damage, or theft, they or their parents may find themselves paying hundreds of dollars for a replacement.

The bottom line on protecting students’ possessions

While property crimes like burglary are on ongoing problem on many college campuses, the good news is that affordable renters insurance is available that can protect students against losses due to burglary as well as other hazards, including fire, wind, smoke, and vandalism. Some companies offer coverage for contents valued at as little as $10,000 (with higher protection levels available to meet individual needs), making renters insurance a great option for protecting the contents of a dorm or student apartment.

To protect students against the theft, loss, or damage of crucial gadgets like smartphones, it’s a good idea to check out the affordable coverage options that are now available online, which may provide greater levels of coverage than the plans available through carriers or at the point of sale. It’s fast and easy for students and parents to go online to evaluate their options and decide whether or not a plan to protect their essential items makes sense. Just remember—the time to make a decision is before an incident occurs.

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