Does Homeowners Insurance Cover College Students?

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Your homeowners insurance covers your child in most cases while they attend college, as long as they're full-time students living in on-campus housing. In addition, a student must be younger than 24 to qualify for this coverage. Otherwise, your child will have to purchase their own renters insurance.

Even though your homeowners insurance can cover your college student, you may want to purchase additional coverage. Your choices for doing this include renters insurance, dorm insurance and expanded coverage limits on your existing homeowners policy. When we examined the differences among these options, we found that there are several downsides to relying on your homeowners policy to protect your college student's belongings.

How does homeowners insurance cover students?

Your homeowners insurance will extend 10% of its limits to college students who live away from the insured property. This means that a policy with $250,000 of personal property protection covers your student at school for $25,000 of personal property protection. To qualify for this coverage, your student needs to live in on-campus housing and be younger than 24.

If you're worried that 10% of your homeowners insurance won't be enough coverage for your college student, you can increase your policy's limit. You could also attach endorsements to certain items or groups of items. This is relevant if your student plans to take a lot of jewelry or expensive electronic equipment to school, since insurers often place caps on the compensation they'll give for these types of items.

Homeowners insurance or renters insurance for college students?

It's probably a good idea for your child to purchase their own renters insurance policy as they head to college. Although your homeowners insurance theoretically provides more than enough coverage to include a college student, the higher deductibles and potential premium increases make it less suitable than renters insurance.

The high deductibles that come with home insurance make it harder to file a claim for the kinds of belongings your child would want to protect at school. For instance, a $1,000 deductible on your homeowners policy means that you wouldn't be able to claim compensation for damage or theft below that amount.

Even if you are able to file a homeowners insurance claim, the benefits may be outweighed by the fact that doing so will probably increase your premiums. The average price of homeowners insurance is already $1,089 per year, but it's even more expensive in disaster-prone states like Texas and Florida. If filing a claim for a broken laptop or bicycle causes your homeowners premiums to increase in the future, it might not be worth it.

Should I use my homeowners insurance to cover my college student?
Benefits
  • No additional cost of purchasing another policy
  • Extends 10% of your property's coverage as long as the student lives on campus
  • The policy remains useful during summer months
Considerations
  • It would be impossible to make claims on items that cost less than your deductible
  • Any claims you make will likely cause your premiums to increase
  • Your own insurance score could be negatively affected if your student has to make a claim

Renters insurance policies, on the other hand, are significantly cheaper than homeowners insurance, at an average of $187 per year. Renters policies also carry the same additional coverages as your existing homeowners insurance. If your student purchases a policy, they would get the full amount of personal property and liability protection.

Even though your renters deductible may not be as high as the one your homeowners policy has, it may still prove difficult to receive compensation for your smaller purchases. For example, if a student's renters insurance carries a $500 deductible, they still won't be able to replace their broken $350 tablet. For this reason, it could be a good idea to purchase dorm insurance instead of using your home insurance for your student.

Should college students purchase dorm insurance?

If you don't want to keep your college student under your homeowners insurance coverage, it might be a good idea to purchase dorm insurance. Often, with dorm insurance your college student will only receive personal property protection with a standard policy, but you might have the option to buy liability insurance as well. Dorm insurance policies come with small adjustable deductibles that are usually below $100.

The low deductibles that come with dorm insurance make these policies more attractive than renters insurance policies, as long as you don't need the extra coverage. Dorm insurance might be a better option than a renters insurance policy if your child doesn't have very much property, or if you can find a dorm insurance provider that also offers liability coverage as a part of a standard policy or with a cheap fee.

Policies from services like GradGuard are the best option for dorm insurance. Such companies usually combine cheap prices with very low deductibles, along with options for personal liability coverage.

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