Lorenzo Prado, left, and Alfonso Calderon, student survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, look over some painted rocks. Students who survived the shooting have created the Never Again movement. The students are in town to lobby the Florida legislature to stop gun violence. Picture: Mark Wallheiser/AP

CAPE TOWN - Whether your child is a First Year or returning to varsity, there’s a lot to get done before the academic year kicks off in February. On your to-do list should be insurance: are your child’s possessions adequately insured against damage or loss?

Although there is no fixed rule about what should be insured, a good rule of thumb is to insure items that are expensive to replace, or which you cannot afford to replace. Students will typically need computers, calculators, books and sports equipment, along with clothes and other electronic gadgets (music centres or iPods, for example). Most of this stuff is expensive.

Vehicle insurance is probably a good place to begin. If the student owns the vehicle, the first decision is whether the vehicle should be insured in the student’s own name or on the parent's policy. The former might be more expensive, as consolidating all your insurance in one policy is cheaper. Whatever option you choose, the key point is to inform the insurer that the student is the regular driver, whether or not he or she owns the vehicle.

If there is an accident and the student is not listed as the regular driver, any claim could be rejected. It is only right that the insurer knows upfront the nature of the risk it is insuring.

Equally important, specifying the student as the regular driver provides him or her with the benefit of building up a personal risk profile, which will stand him or her in good stead when he or she is in a position to take out his or her own insurance. At the same time, the parent’s risk profile will not be affected.

When it comes to other possessions, a number of factors come into play. Whether a student is in res or digs or living at home, his or her risk profile changes and the insurer needs to know the facts, or any cover could be invalidated.

It is essential to check with your insurer whether your policy covers goods housed in another dwelling, such as a res or digs, or if another household contents policy needs to be taken out.

If a student is going to be carrying around expensive equipment, such as a laptop or sports equipment, during the day, care must be taken to ensure the items are covered by All Risks insurance.

As always when it comes to insurance, speak to your broker or insurance company to obtain the best advice. Insurance is all about understanding risk, and insurers need to be fully aware of the risk they are covering.

Nthabiseng Moloi is the head of marketing and brand at MiWay.

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