There are many examples to support my strongly held belief that proper insurance planning is not a DIY project. One recent example: when the mainstream press offers guidance on how to manage your risks, be aware that such stories often omit important pieces of information that can leave you and your family’s assets exposed to uncovered losses.
In a recent article by Paul Sullivan, the highly acclaimed Wealth Matters columnist for The New York Times, readers are urged to understand and manage the many insurable risks associated with children attending college. Mr. Sullivan begins by reminding his readers that “insurable risks faced by college students have gone up tremendously in the decades since their parents lugged stereos and crates of vinyl records into dormitory rooms”. So far, so good.
So, you ask, just what are these new risks facing college students in the 21st Century? Surprisingly, instead of learning about any new insurable risks that have “gone up tremendously”, readers are simply reminded of the usual and obvious risks that I sure hope every parent already knows to prepare for: theft of valuable items, automobile claims, serving alcohol, trip and fall injuries, and identity theft. While the risk of identity theft has surely risen in the past decade, readers are left to wonder what are the other risks that have actually “gone up tremendously in the decades since…stereos and…records”, as the article forewarns???
Unfortunately, there actually are risks facing college students and their families that are on the rise, and although these risks were not revealed in this article, you can learn about them here. Consider for a moment the liability risks (and defense costs) that can arise from your student’s improper use of e mail, blogs, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and webcams. Had The New York Times consulted this risk advisor, they would have learned to warn readers of the increased risk of “personal injury” — the very broad and overlooked category of risks that all parents of teenagers should understand and secure protection for. Not to be confused with bodily injury, “personal injury” refers to those injuries that don’t affect the body. These include false arrest, wrongful eviction or entry, invasion of the right of privacy in a room or dwelling, slander and defamation, or the violation of the person’s right to privacy.
Few consumers (or even traditional insurance agents, for that matter) ever examine whether coverage for the increasingly real risk of “personal injury” is even covered by the policies that provide their family’s personal liability protection. Especially for families with children in high school or college, consumers should learn if the liability insurance covering the actions of their family members includes coverage for “personal injury”, as a great many personal insurance policies do not. If your policies do not provide this important protection, contact me for access to the handful of carriers that provide policies that do. And —- please do not rely on newspaper articles for guidance on how to craft your insurance program, even those appearing in The New York Times.
For a link to the New York Times article that omits this important information: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/18/your-money/home-insurance/18wealth.html?pagewanted=print