As students gear up for school, parents are opening their wallets and spending big time. According to Deloitte, back-to-school spending could hit $32.5 billion this year, 16% higher than last year. That’s a lot of money.

If you’ve already done your back-to-school shopping and your student is heading back to school with some expensive new items such as a laptop, cell phone, or bicycle, you’ve probably stressed to them the importance of taking care of their belongings and protecting them from damage or worse yet, theft.  It’s no fun having to replace a high-ticket item unexpectedly.

Luckily, these types of personal belongings are typically covered under a standard homeowner’s insurance policy if they are stolen or damaged, even if the items weren’t in your home at the time. If you have a college-age student living on campus, your homeowners’ insurance would likely cover these items.  If your college student is living in an apartment, however, renters insurance is something you should consider. 

Here are some simple tips that can help you and your child protect their new stuff this school year:

  • Keep a record: Create an inventory list of your child’s valuable items, such as laptop, cell phone, graphing calculator, Bluetooth speaker, headphones, bicycle etc.  with photos and serial numbers. This way, should you have to file an insurance claim, you have a detailed record of item and its value.
  • Don’t leave valuables unattended: Remind your student never to leave their valuables unattended, such as when they are studying at the public library or a coffee shop. It only takes a second for a thief to snatch a phone from a table and stuff it into a pocket unnoticed. If they are alone and need to use the restroom, they should always bring their belongings with them. 
  • Consider tracking devices: If your child tends to lose or leave things behind often, look into tracking devices such as Apple’s new AirTags which can help you locate items if they are misplaced or stolen. You can attach a tracker to things like instrument cases, laptop bags, backpacks and purses. Be sure to check the compatibility with your cell phone.
  • Lock your bike: A good bike lock goes a long way to protecting a bike, but only if it’s locked correctly and secured to something. If you have a child taking a new bike to school for the first time, it’s a good idea to have them practice with the lock a few times beforehand.
  • Lock your locker. It seems obvious, but worth reminding your student to lock it after each visit and not to share their combination.

It’s natural for kids and teens to lose or misplace things sometimes, and learning to be responsible is part of growing up.  But taking some protective measures and walking through some reminders together at the start of the school year is a good practice and will help them lay a good foundation for growing into a responsible adult.