As students return to school, technology goes with them. That technology — and the data generated by it — is valuable not simply as a means for getting school work done, but also as entertainment for those brief hours between one assignment and the next. It's for this reason that it pays to plan for disaster. With a single massive power burst, storage media that suddenly heads south, or interaction with a light-fingered ne'er-do-well, the technology your student depends on can vanish. Take these five tips to heart, however, and the loss of a device or data need not be catastrophic.
Insure the gear
Parents, if your student lives in school-affiliated housing, it's possible that your homeowners insurance covers their stuff — but not without some cost to you. Should your child's laptop or iPhone be stolen or swept away in a flood, a replacement won't come free. Such policies generally have a deductible of several hundred dollars and the remaining compensation is often limited to around 10 percent of your total coverage. So, if you carry a policy that insures the contents of your home up to $150,000, the yearly limit on a kid's gear is $15,000 when they live in student housing.
If they live outside such housing, they're on their own as far as this kind of insurance goes. However, for a few hundred dollars a year they (or you) can purchase renters insurance, which also covers the contents of their dwelling. Note that not all damage is covered. For example, if their MacBook Pro is drowned in beer or an iPhone smashed to pieces in a hallway rugby game the insurer may deny a claim.
There are also companies that specialize in insurance for college students. College Student Insurance and NSSI insure computers and laptops, mobile phones, music players, furniture, and bicycles. And in addition to providing protection against theft, fire, and flood, they will cover accidental damage.
If you or your student used a credit card to purchase gear just before leaving for school and that gear is stolen or damaged you may have some recourse via the credit card company. Many of these cards offer 90-day purchase protection coverage for between $300 and $500 in loss or damage.
Apple offers its own protection in the form of AppleCare and AppleCare+ for iPhone, iPad, or iPod. AppleCare, which covers Macs and Apple displays, costs between $149 and $349, depending on the Mac model. (Apple displays can be covered for $99.) This takes care of repairs for up to three years, but doesn't cover accidental damage. AppleCare+ is $99 for iPhones or iPads, extends coverage to two years total, and addresses not only repairs but also two instances of accidental damage (each instance will cost an additional $49). You can get similar coverage for the iPod touch or iPod classic for $59.
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