There are more than 5,000 school districts across the United States that deploy devices like laptops, Chromebooks, and iPads to students in their 1:1 computing programs. These programs are in place to give students the type of instruction needed to be competitive in future career fields. As the use of pens, paper, and books begins to slow, this brings with it a host of challenges for which many districts are unprepared.
One major challenge faced by school districts, is that putting these expensive devices into the hands of children and teenagers comes with an inherent risk – loss of the device, and/or damage to the device. When this inevitability happens, who is held responsible for the cost of repair and replacement?
We sat down with Matt Morelli, the Director of Business Development with School Device Coverage to find out this, and more.
FI: Matt, thank you for taking a moment to speak with us. Tell the readers a bit about yourself.
Matt: Sure thing, thanks for having me. I’ve worked in sales / marketing / business development for almost 20 years now, and spent a majority of that time in the financial services and beauty industries. In 2018 I came to U-PIC Insurance Services, to work with their shipping insurance (U-PIC Shipping Insurance) and edtech device insurance (School Device Coverage) divisions. Our shipping insurance division has been around since 1989 and is the premier shipping insurance provider in the nation. School Device Coverage was formed in 2014, and I have been tasked with pushing the growth of both divisions.
FI: What was the impetus behind the creation of School Device Coverage?
Matt: Actually, one of our colleagues was at a dinner party with a group of people, and one of the other guests struck up a conversation with her. It turned out that he was a superintendent at a local school district, and he asked if we insured devices. At the time we didn’t, but she had the wherewithal to bring the question to the powers that be, at U-PIC. After an in depth meeting and brainstorming session with the president of U-PIC, Bliss Landon, she was tasked with laying the groundwork for what was to become School Device Coverage.
We started small with a handful of districts, and have grown every year, ever since.
FI: That’s amazing! So what does School Device Coverage do for school districts?
Matt: That’s a loaded question. There is the salesperson answer, and then there is that combined with what we really do. I’ll give you the latter.
In short we first meet with district representatives in person or by phone, typically a Director of Technology or a Chief Technology Officer. We ask them a series of questions about their 1:1 program, how it is run at current, what happens to devices that are lost, stolen, or damaged, and a few other important things to make note of. We then do our best to understand their needs and intentions, and once we’re satisfied that we can…we engineer a program designed to address all of them.
The goal from our side is simple. We place a secure barrier between the risk of devices being damaged / lost / stolen, and the party who will ultimately be financially responsible for bringing that device status back to new. This can be either the district itself, or the parents of the child responsible for whatever event that caused the damage or loss. That is what we do, that is insurance in a nutshell. We all understand the probability of bad things happening and we have to choose whether we want to roll the dice, or protect ourselves.
When bad things happen to these devices, all too often parents are placed in a precarious position. When a school does not have any type of insurance or warranty on a device, it’s common that parents are held responsible. Fixing a device can be quite expensive. And replacing one? Forget about it.
To combat these challenges, we give districts the ability to allow their parents to obtain coverage for when these events do take place.
FI: That seems reasonable enough. Don’t most devices come with a warranty though? Why would a school district entertain the thought of purchasing insurance?
Matt: You’re right, they do. Almost any new edtech device that a district buys will come with some sort of manufacturer warranty. There are many types of warranties (sometimes also known as accidental damage protection or plan), but they tend to be very limited in scope. For example, most warranties will not cover loss or theft of the device. Also, they may limit the amount of claims that can be made under the term of the warranty, and charge a deductible any time a claim is made.
What looks good on paper, tends to not always be the right solution in reality. We view a warranty in this manner. It’s fantastic for what it was originally intended – something intrinsically wrong with the device, by fault of the manufacturer. Beyond that, any real value will come with added cost and headache, thereby negating that value.
With insurance, everything that a standard or extended manufacturer warranty or accidental damage program offers is included. However, we also include loss and theft coverage, as well as coverage for fire, flood, submersion, accidental damage, and more. We do so with no limit on the amount of claims per device/student, with no additional fees or deductibles assessed when a claim is filed.
This all tends to fall in around the same price as the added warranty.
FI: That seems pretty cut and dry. If a school district wants to get a hold of you, how can they find you?
Matt: They can visit www.schooldevicecoverage.com or call us at 888.978.3515, we’re happy to answer any questions, any time!
School Device Coverage, a division of U-PIC Insurance Services
5010 Chesebro Road
Agoura Hills, CA 91301
888.978.3515 | www.schooldevicecoverage.com
CA Dept. of Insurance #2E61972 #0E61972