Is Your Child’s ‘Stuff’ Covered in the Dorm?

Is Your Child’s ‘Stuff’ Covered in the Dorm?

Your child is leaving the nest. The car is packed to the hilt and pointed toward campus. Among your concerns about tuition, courses, and when you will see your child next, have you considered the contents of your car? Will your student’s belongings be insured in his or her dorm?

While the contents of a dorm room often include secondhand furniture and repurposed thrift store items, among these there will probably be a few pricey electronic devices, gadgets, and gear. Chances are you (and your departing student) have been too busy to consider the importance of insuring these possessions. Homeowners or renters insurance policies usually cover your student’s belongings in the dorm, but here are a few things you may not have thought of:

• Check your policy. Confirm your student’s possessions are covered as part of your homeowners policy.

  • Check your limits. Policies sometimes limit dorm coverage to 10% of the total, meaning a policy providing $150,000 coverage for possessions at your residence may only provide dorm room coverage up to $15,000. That may seem like a lot, but consider the replacement cost.
  • Take inventory. Before it’s all crammed into the dorm room, make a detailed list, including values. Create a file including receipts for electronics and other high-end items in case you have to make a claim.
  • Consider options and alternatives. While your homeowners policy may cover your student’s laptop from theft, it won’t replace it if it’s shorted out by a spilled Frappuccino. For individual items, consider riders or special warranties that protect against such accidental damage. And, of course, items such as heirlooms and expensive jewelry are better left at home. When your child leaves home for college, the experience can be wrenching, exciting, busy, and frustrating. Make sure it’s not a bad one by insuring your student’s personal possessions before you start packing the car.

Batteries – The Next Frontier for a Device Focused Society


No matter what device you depend on-a flashlight, a smartphone, or a computer-it likely won’t work without a battery. Yet the science behind batteries has been relatively underwhelming. Until now.

Much of the key development work on batteries dates back to the 1800s. And since then the lowly battery has powered our society in a relatively low-key way. Now, however, the battery needs to join the 21st century. And investors such as billionaire Warren Buffet are betting its time has come.

As Michael J. De La Merced noted in The New York Times, “By essentially agreeing to swap his firm’s holdings in P&G, worth about $4.7 billion, in exchange for Duracell, Mr. Buffett will gain one of the best-known battery companies in the world.” Plus market share.

While many claim Buffett’s purchase is a tax maneuver, others believe he sees big opportunities in today’s $50 billion global battery market. Batteries represent the new frontier. And Buffet is not alone in noticing.

Tesla, under CEO Elon Musk, recently launched the Powerwall home battery to revolutionize the way we use energy, envisioning a network of home batteries acting as power plants. The product, initially high-priced, will become more affordable and more desirable, Musk believes.

Meanwhile, Science Daily’s Battery News regularly highlights new developments in batteries, ranging from “squishies” made from wood pulp to an ultrafast aluminum battery. These days it seems a lot of important players are charged up over batteries. And they’re betting big.

How to Spice Up Office or School Lunches



Packed lunches are often boring. So what’s a better way to spice up office or school lunches than, well, a little spice?

Caroline Craig and Sophie Missing, authors of The Little Book of Lunch, write in The Guardian: “Our palates have become accustomed to spicy and exotic additions, and we expect the deep, often complex flavor that spices provide whatever meal we’re eating.” And that’s especially true for drab, and sometimes rushed, lunchtime meals.

The authors’ suggestions include harissa, a Tunisian hot chili pepper paste that goes on everything from veggies to chicken dishes. (Refer to the Guardian post at Spicy lunch ideas  or check online for recipes.) You can also add spicy oils to noodle soup, or rub leftover chicken with cumin and moisten with mayo for a yummy sandwich. Try marinating any meat with spices, roasting, and wrapping in a pita with lettuce and tomato.

But one word of caution: be sure to use thermoses or cold packs to keep your spicy lunches well chilled. Hummus and olives should be kept cold as well. Let’s face it: No one wants ptomaine poisoning-especially at lunch.

Ensure the Right Coverage: Provide the Right Information

Whether you’re a new home buyer or just reviewing your current policy, it’s important to get the right coverage.

Here’s how:

There’s a lot of important information about your home that you need to share with your agent, and knowing the answers beforehand makes the process easier for both of you. As a new buyer, you’ll be providing the information for the first time, while current policy holders will need to update the information through a regular policy review with your agent.

If you are a new buyer, your agent will need the purchase price, address, year built, and construction type, as well as the square footage and type of foundation. Don’t forget the dimensions of any garage, porches, decks, and basements. Your agent will also need to know if there are any “attractive nuisances” on the property (pools, trampolines, or playgrounds), and the proximity to fire hydrants and the fire department.

As well, you should include information on heat and electricity types, any additional heating, roof type, and plumbing details. Include information on home alarms and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If the home was built before 1990, note when the roof was last replaced and the heating updated. Finally, provide details of your previous policy and any previous claims.

If you’re reviewing your policy, consider whether any of the items above have changed. Have you built an addition, had your roof reshingled, added a pool, or changed your type of heating? It’s all important to your coverage. And to you.