This time each year, it seems the media is full of back-to-school protection tips advising parents and college students on how to protect their “stuff”. While the guidance is helpful, these tired articles commonly ignore the host of emerging risks that can expose a family’s assets and jeopardize the welfare of their child.
Every parent of a college student understands the degree to which their child seems tethered to their smart phone and other connected technology. The common condition of being too connected has been termed “virtual addiction”, a condition so common there is a website that offers on-line questionnaires to help the public examine the degree to which addiction describes their relationship with technology: http://virtual-addiction.com/smartphone-abuse-test/ (these tests 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 heavy users of modern technology.
As a result, today’s college students face risks that are far more grave that a stolen laptop! Consider the following risks that can arise from the improper and unmonitored use of the modern technology at every student’s disposal:
- loss of privacy
- computer malware or virus
- stolen identity and personal information
- mis-use of social media that can cause harm to another
- texting, e mailing, snapchatting, taking selfies or just plain talking on a cell phone while driving
- sending, receiving and or forwarding illegal content
The insurance industry can help parents and students to better prepare for the above issues. Consider reviewing this helpful series of recommendations from ACE Private Risk Services. For those with college students and younger children, this helpful guide from Chubb offers a number of protection insights.
In addition to having a complete discussion with your child about the risks that can arise from their mis-use of technology, following are two specific protection recommendation I can also offer:
- 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.
- If your college student is at school with the use of a car, install a device that restricts the use of their cell phone while operating that car! There are a growing number of providers for this important safety service, but this device from cell control has been well reviewed. (why not also take this step for those children driving cars while at home?) Preventing distracted driving is achievable, and a cause I am passionate about.