Many families are busy preparing their new college undergrad teens for life away from home. This new venture can be overwhelming for parents and teens alike, as being away from home for the first time brings new responsibilities and concerns. Beyond the classroom, teens must take care of themselves, their living space and their property.

To help families complete their college-bound checklists, AAA encourages families to address three areas that teens will need to manage away from home:

Protecting home and property

With laptops, cell phones, media devices and other personal effects, today's college student can have more than $10,000 worth of property in their dorm or apartment. Therefore, families should consider a renter's insurance policy to safeguard students' belongings. A renter's policy:

• Protects property and provides liability coverage.

• Is relatively inexpensive, starting from the low $100 range for an annual policy. Some housing may require proof of a renter's policy before allowing the tenant to move in.

• Can help avoid the need to place a claim on homeowner's policies, which typically has higher deductibles, for students who consider their parents' address as their primary residence.

Maintaining a vehicle

Learning basic car care should be part of the learning-to-drive process, but these learning points are sometimes missed, and teens' vehicles are often maintained by someone else while they are living at home. However, a review of the following basic maintenance requirements can help newly independent students preserve their vehicle and avoid mishaps:

• Ensure your teen understands how to check and examine tire pressure, tread depth and other abnormalities that signal a need for tire replacement.

• Review the owner's manual and show teens where the recommended maintenance schedule is outlined in the book. Explain the importance of preventative maintenance and ensure they understand how to track the maintenance schedule on their car.

• Find an auto repair shop near your teen's college that you can trust. Consider visiting the shop and introducing your teen to the owner or management so they are comfortable coming to them with a repair or emergency.

• Linda Gorman is communications and public affairs director for AAA Arizona. Reach her at (602) 650-2716 or

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