So, you’re leaving the nest...

College is an exciting time. Meeting the roommate (fingers crossed he or she isn’t a morning person), exploring campus, dreading statistics class — there are ups and downs. And Mom and Dad have decided it’s time for you handle some of your own expenses, and not just coin-operated laundry. But have no fear, Grinnell Mutual is here. We can help you with Insurance 101 for college students (no all-nighters, we promise). Once you brush up on the basics, all you need to do is contact an agent to get an A in Adulting.

Oh, the places you’ll go! But first, a word to the wise about auto insurance.

Maybe Mom and Dad let you use their car on the regular when you were in high school — after all, they were the ones who encouraged you to get a part-time job at the Tastee Freeze and it was all the way across town. Or maybe you were one of the lucky ones who had their own (dented but darling) ride. But even if you made your own car payment or bought it outright, your parents might have taken care of the insurance end of things. If they’ve decided that now you’re on your own when it comes to wheels, we’ve got some great tips so you only lose sleep over that term paper, not your car insurance.

Car insurance 101

Timing is everything. Unfortunately, young adults are usually charged higher rates than their older counterparts. Why? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), teens between the ages of 16 and19 have a higher risk factor for car accidents than any other age group. Unfortunately, that means your rates can be steep. Comparison shopping is wise, of course, but so is deciding how much insurance you need and what coverages and limitations apply. Finding an agent you can trust is your ace in the hole.

Do your homework. You’re going to hear that a lot from your professors, so you probably don’t want to hear it from us. But educating yourself on any kind of insurance is important — a crash course in Auto Insurance 101 is necessary (minus the pop quiz, we promise). Take it from us, insurance can be confusing and full of technical terms, so asking an experienced agent about the different types, how much you’ll pay for it and why, what the silver linings are (read: discounts and incentives) and how to report a claim will get you an A+ in Auto Insurance.

Bargain shop. The cost of your policy (premium) might be higher than you expected, but there are ways to make it more affordable. Luckily, most insurance companies offer incentives and discounts — Grinnell Mutual is proud of its Mile Marker Auto Loyalty program, which offers perks like small at-fault accident forgiveness and its Good Student Discounts (again, do your homework by talking with your agent – restrictions and conditions apply!).

Be mindful behind the wheel. We shouldn’t have to tell you not to run stoplights or wear your seatbelt, but it’s important to note that nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured daily in crashes that involve one or more distracted drivers. Distracted driving doesn’t just mean texting — sleep deprivation, eating, talking, applying makeup, and listening to loud music apply, too. It might sound boring, but avoiding distracted driving will help you arrive alive, and if you’ve got a clean driving record (claim-free, accident-free), you might qualify for additional savings on your policy. And here’s your PSA, kids: If you’re going to drink alcoholic beverages — even one — don’t drive. It’s obviously unsafe, but did you know that a DUI conviction can also make your monthly insurance premium skyrocket? Don’t do it.

You’ve left the nest and have packed your car with every belonging you’ll need for school (except maybe a bottomless pizza piggy bank). Protect your ride with a comprehensive auto insurance policy that’ll make becoming an adult a little easier. Trust that we’re looking out for your tomorrow. Talk to an agent today!

The information included in this publication was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company and its employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with any training, materials, suggestions or information provided. It is the user’s responsibility to confirm compliance with any applicable local, state or federal regulations. Information obtained from or via Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company should not be used as the basis for legal advice or other advice, but should be confirmed with alternative sources.

Avoid renter’s roulette: Protect what’s yours

Back in the day, moving into a dorm or an apartment meant packing up your sister’s secondhand lava lamp and maybe your favorite bean bag chair from the basement. But today, laptops, smart phones, tablets, and televisions make up the décor (not to mention clothes, appliances, sporting equipment, and a host of other expensive baubles). These possessions may be protected under your parents’ homeowners or renters’ policies, but special limits may also apply. Don’t just assume you’re covered! Before you start shopping for a swag futon, first things first: rental insurance.

Doesn’t my landlord have homeowners’ insurance? I’m just renting the place. Well, we certainly hope your landlord has comprehensive insurance, but it probably doesn’t cover your personal possessions. Some landlord insurance may help protect against limited damages caused by tenants, but you could still be held liable for damages in certain circumstances. For example, if a candle you left burning starts a fire (don’t do that), you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars. A renters’ insurance policy could help protect your stuff and provide liability protection.

What does renters’ insurance cover, exactly? Although you may think your stuff isn’t worth much, you’d likely be surprised by how valuable your personal property is. Between your electronics, clothing, and hobby gear, you might be sitting on $20,000 or more. It’s smart to take inventory in case of a break-in. Remember, you’ll be living in an unfamiliar neighborhood — sweet old Mildred who lived next door to your family may have been replaced with Sketchy Steve in the apartment above you.

Spreadsheets and checklists are great, but one cool way to document your stuff is with your smartphone (you can use it for more than Instagram selfies — who knew?). Take photos of that spendy camping equipment and flat-screen TV, or better yet, make a video! Here’s now:

  • Introduce yourself — state the date and say your name, address, and when you moved in.
  • If you live with a roommate, be sure to indicate what belongs to whom.
  • Pan every room you have stuff in and capture EVERYTHING.
  • Zoom in on items, naming and describing each (brand, how long you have owned the item, price, identifying features, and show serial numbers if you can).
  • Open every drawer and closet, showing their contents.
  • Repeat for every room, including the garage if you have one.
  • Update your record periodically to include new purchases and improvements.
  • Make copies of your inventory. Keep one with you and one in a safe deposit box or with your parents or guardians.
  • Keep receipts (or credit card statements) for the expensive stuff. Store in the same safe place as the inventory.

So, I knew a guy who was held responsible for his friend’s medical bills after he fell off the balcony during a party. What can I do to protect myself? Everyone has a friend who goes rogue. Short of chaining him to the couch (or not inviting him in the first place), what can you do to ensure he doesn’t injure himself or others and leave you holding the bag? The first step is to make sure your renter’s insurance has good liability coverage — ideally one like Grinnell Mutual’s Home-Guard® coverage, which comes complete with bodily injury, property damage, medical payment, and personal injury options.

Now that you’re free to make ramen noodles in your very own kitchen, you’re probably starting to realize that privacy is priceless. But setting your curtains on fire while you’re doing it can have can have a pretty steep price tag. Protect yourself, your stuff, and your guests with solid renters’ insurance. Trust your agent to help you protect the contents of your castle.

The information included in this publication was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company and its employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with any training, materials, suggestions or information provided. It is the user’s responsibility to confirm compliance with any applicable local, state or federal regulations. Information obtained from or via Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company should not be used as the basis for legal advice or other advice, but should be confirmed with alternative sources.

Freshman fraud? Here’s how to avoid identity theft.

Right now, you’re likely thinking about whether you’ll get along with your roommate (according to her Facebook page, she seems to really, REALLY love teddy bears), and if you should opt for biology over chemistry first semester. Identity theft probably hasn’t crossed your mind much. But according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), 31 percent of identity theft victims fall into the 18–29 age group. General naivete or inexperience with personal finances, being bombarded by credit card offers, sharing your personal information on school and business documents, and not regularly giving your checking account or credit cards statements a once-over all contribute to the problem. So how can you protect yourself?

Be on alert. Between your social security number, ATM code, computer passwords, and driver’s license, you have a lot of personal information that can get into the wrong hands. Don’t share passwords, personal identification numbers (PINs), or financial information unless you’re sure it’s necessary. Avoid the credit card companies’ schilling their services (even if you really want that 1-pound bag of M&Ms they’re offering in exchange for your information), and don’t send important documents to dorms or off-campus apartments where mail might not be secure.

Be social media savvy. We’re now more comfortable than ever sharing our lives online, especially via sites like SnapChat, Instagram, and Twitter. But there’s such a thing as oversharing. Leave your phone number, email address, and full birthdate off your profiles because identity thieves love to mine posts and pages for information that could get them past account security questions.

Watch your WiFi. Public WiFi is convenient and we’re used to the luxury of tapping into the outside world while doing the mundane. But avoid paying your bills on public computers (like the library or your favorite coffeehouse), and never use a WiFi connection that’s not secure.

Skip the phishing trip. Phishing — the “art” of stealing personal information via e-mail — has been around since the Internet’s debut. Today, these scams have gotten surprisingly sophisticated, so it’s easier to fall prey to one than you might think. Always verify a site’s security before using it — make sure the URL begins with “https” and there should be a closed lock icon in the address bar. Be very selective and informed about what you download, be wary of pop-ups, and consider using firewalls and antivirus software. And always, always do regular checkups of your online accounts.

Be proactive. Tossing a credit card bill or a bank statement into the trash without destroying it first is risky, and since we’re not a paperless society quite yet, it’s a good idea to have a secure filing system and/or shredder for sensitive documents. And hey, Mom and Dad might even be willing to pitch in on the cost — after all, they’ll sleep better at night knowing steps have been taken to ensure your healthy financial future.

You’re just getting started. Don’t let a crook sully your good name this early in the game. Grinnell Mutual has partnered with CyberScout™, a leader in identity theft and data breach solutions. If you’re a Grinnell Mutual policyholder, talk to your agent about the protection we can offer you at every age, stage, and touchpoint in your life.

And speaking of stages, are you internship hunting? An internship with Grinnell Mutual means more than fetching coffee and running errands — it means being involved in real-time projects and assignments, from field travel to networking with industry leaders. Let’s connect!

The information included in this publication was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company and its employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with any training, materials, suggestions or information provided. It is the user’s responsibility to confirm compliance with any applicable local, state or federal regulations. Information obtained from or via Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company should not be used as the basis for legal advice or other advice, but should be confirmed with alternative sources.