Backpack, laptop, pencils, paper ... and insurance?

If your nest is about to grow emptier as a daughter or son heads off to college, the Northwest Insurance Council has some advice.

“As a parent, it’s time to do your insurance homework to make sure your college student’s possessions are adequately insured,” the council said in a release Friday.

There are risks. The U.S. Department of Education has reported that 14,000 burglaries occurred on campuses across the nation in 2014, and the National Fire Protection Association has noted that an average of 3,870 dormitory fires were reported from 2009 to 2013.

If your student’s property is stolen or damaged while living on campus, those items are typically covered under your standard homeowners or renters policy. If your college student lives off-campus, however, a renters policy may be needed for both personal property and liability protection.

The advice:

▪  Contact your insurance company or agent to discuss your current coverage and your insurance options.

▪  If your high school or college student permanently moves away from home, this creates a possible coverage problem for personal property. Your student must reside in your household for his or her personal property to be covered under your policy.

▪  If your student lives in a school dorm room, his or her personal property is covered under your homeowners insurance policy.

▪  You may be eligible for a discount on your auto insurance if your student is attending college at least 100 miles from home and not driving the family car while at school. Also, many auto insurance companies give discounts to students who maintain a B average or higher.

▪  Create an inventory of items your son or daughter brought to school.

▪  Students should always lock dorm rooms or apartments and engrave electronics, such as iPods and computers, with your name or other identifying information to help police track stolen items.

C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535