Renters Insurance For College Students

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Students relocating to attend a college or university typically live in a dormitory or off campus in a house or apartment. For many, it’s the first time they’ve lived on their own and they might be unfamiliar with their insurance needs. Here’s everything a college student needs to know when it comes to property and liability insurance.

Do You Need Renters Insurance For A Dorm Room?

Probably not. Most homeowners and renters insurance policies of parents or guardians will cover their college student’s belongings if they live in a dorm room. That would include things like a computer, television, clothing and jewelry. Students should always check with their parent or guardian’s insurance company to make sure their personal property is covered. Never assume a college student in a dorm room is covered.

If a homeowners or renters insurance policy does not cover a college student’s personal belongings in a dorm, the student might want to consider purchasing a separate insurance policy. Some companies sell small policies that cover only a dorm-dwelling student’s personal property. A policy that covers belongings in a dorm as well as liability and loss of use, are not very common. The reason insurance companies don't usually allow renters insurance policies to cover dorms is because they can be hectic places. It's a more difficult risk to account for than, say, a single family home or an apartment building full of adults. 

There are some exceptions when a student’s personal property in a dorm might not be covered. Most homeowners or renters policies will not cover a student living in a dorm who is older than 26 years of age. The student’s permanent address, or residency, should be the same as the parent or guardian’s policy, too.

Insurance For Off-Campus Housing

It is common for colleges and universities to require undergraduate students to live in dorms at least their freshman year of school. After that housing requirement is met, many choose to rent and move into off-campus housing – something that is not covered by a parent or guardian’s insurance.

Students renting an off-campus apartment -- like anyone else -- should purchase a renters insurance policy to cover their belongings, give themselves personal liability protection and loss of use coverage. 

Money is not something students usually have a lot of, but renters insurance is very affordable and buying renters insurance is easy. The average annual renters insurance premium in the U.S. is $187. That’s less than $16 per month. If that amount is a difference maker, one way to save money might be to consider removing a college student from a parent or guardian's auto insurance policy.

In the event a category of a student's personal property surpasses its designated limit (for example, jewelry is usually limited to about $2,000 of coverage), the studnet might need to puchase a renters insurance endorsement or schedule an item. Also keep in mind that that renters insurance does not cover damages due to earthquakes, floods and sinkholes. Separate policies would need to be purchased to cover each of those perils. 

How College Students Might Use Renters Insurance Coverage

Even though college students tend to not have a lot of personal property, the value of their property is probably higher than they estimate. A laptop, software, television, art supplies, jewelry and other things can easily have a total dollar value in the thousands. College students usually have little money saved in the event of an emergency, so losing their possessions in, for example, a fire would be especially devastating because they might not be able to replace their belongings. However, if they have renters insurance, a student would be able to file a claim and only have to pay a deductible to replace their personal property.

In addition to the personal property, college students can benefit from renters insurance liability protection, which covers costs associated with a lawsuit. A college student doesn’t have to throw wild parties to be at risk of someone filing a lawsuit against them. A student’s dog might bite someone or a guest could trip in their rental and sue them. Even a lawsuit with an erroneous claim can still be expensive to defend.

No matter how careful a student is, they might only be as cautious as their neighbors. A fire or leak caused by else can easily damage a renter’s unit or home. In the event something happens that leaves a renters home uninhabitable, loss of use coverage will pay for living expenses until they can return or find a new home. School can be stressful enough. If something happens and a student has to move, loss of use coverage can at least relieve some of the resulting financial stress.

College Roommates And Insurance

Generally, renters insurance policies do not cover non family members or their personal property. That means college students and their roommates living off-campus should each get their own renters insurance policy. 

Some insurance companies allow tenants to add non family members to their renters insurance policy. The personal property of the “named insured” on the policy would then be covered and they would have liability and loss of use coverage. The drawback is that the policyholder would then have to file claims under their name, which comes with its own consequences. Filing too many claims can result in increased cost of premiums and in some cases, even an insurance company to drop a policyholder. Again, renters insurance is inexpensive. Roommates are probably better off each getting their own policy and handling any necessary claims independently. 

Roommates living together in a dorm might not need to worry whether their policies cover each other. Two dorm roommates are probably each covered by their respective parent or guardian’s homeowners or renters insurance policy. 

College Students Living In a Property Their Parents Own

Some college students might live off-campus in a house or apartment owned by their parents, guardians or a family member. In this case, depending on the agreement between the family members, a student might still need to purchase renters insurance. It depends on how the rental home is classified. 

If the rental is considered a secondary home of the owner and their college student stays there free of charge then the student doesn’t need renters insurance policy. They if anything, the insurance policy for the secondary home might be cheaper with a family member living there instead of sitting empty (which is considered more high risk). Owners in this circumstance should call and update their insurance company that a family member is residing in their secondary home.

A student is staying in the secondary home of someone who is not a parent or guardian should get a renters insurance policy – even if they aren’t paying rent to the person. In this case, the student’s personal property would not be covered by their parent’s or guardian's homeowners or renters insurance. And an extended family member or friend would not be able to add the student to their policy, unless they lived in the rental with the student and added them as a “named insured.” 

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