John Fees is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of GradGuard™. Fees is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he received a bachelors of science degree in History and is also a graduate of Harvard Business School where he completed a Masters in Business Administration. John Fees lives in Phoenix, Arizona and is married to Melissa Soza Fees, Ph.D. and is the father of five children. He is the Treasurer for the Arizona College Success Arizona, a Director of College Parents of America, Founding Director and investor in Tonto Creek Camp which provides service leadership experiences to 8,000 students annually. He is also an active member of University Risk Management and Insurance Association and the Professional Insurance Marketers Association.
The end of 2018 proved once again that fires within student housing is a chronic and enduring problem. In fact, if 2018 was like prior years, when Clery Act data is finally tabulated it is likely that more than 2,000 campus fires will be reported, including within university residence halls where the media reported on the damages such as Mississippi State University, Duke University and University of Oakland.
We are relieved to know that no reports appeared that said students were injured, but many students experienced financial losses due to the water damage. Here is a sample of one campus fire.
"At approximately 9:55 p.m., a fire was reported in the third floor A wing of Oak Hall, a residence hall located on the south end of the MSU campus. Fire damage was reported in the room where the fire started, and approximately 30 other rooms were damaged by water when the fire suppression system was triggered. No injuries were reported from the fire.
Approximately 60 students were impacted by the fire, and university officials have provided and will continue to provide accommodations for those students. Those accommodations include temporary housing at a local hotel, as well as academic and parking accommodations."
As a campus official, you are fortunate if you haven't experienced the financial loss from a campus fire. It is likely that your campus will eventually experience a loss similar to the Duke example where the estimated loss was more than $160,000.
According to Clery Act reports, in 2016, the number of fires that occurred in on-campus student housing facilities was up 6.7% from 1,916 in 2015 to 2,044 fires in 2016.
The data is remarkably consistent with year over year changes typically less than 10%.
These incidents are often a surprise to college students and their parents. In fact, many students and families are often caught unprepared, and expect the college or university to replace their stolen or damaged property or forgive a mistake that damaged other students' property.
GradGuard's renters insurance is designed to help reduce losses for both students and schools. Our renters insurance program can replace damaged property when the school may not. In addition, our insurance provides coverage for the loss-of-use that may occur following a fire, so the cost of a nearby hotel may also have coverage.
At no cost to schools, GradGuard's renters insurance program makes it easy for colleges and universities to collect when property is damaged by a fire or water damage.
GradGuard's renters insurance program also helps school officials avoid difficult conversations with students when they may be surprised that a school may not replace stolen or damaged property or when the school seeks for a student to pay for the damages they unintentionally caused.
In addition to protection from campus fires, GradGuard's renters insurance also helps to replace stolen or damaged student property such as those that are a result of criminal offenses which Clery Act data demonstrates grew by almost 3% from 36,337 crimes in 2015 to 37,389 in 2017.
With the data on the frequency of campus fires combined with the money at stake, your students and school are smart to consider GradGuard's renters insurance program that is designed just for college life.