Do you need to buy specific insurance to cover college students while away at school in a dorm or rented home? Many people consider this option because when you go away to college, you usually take a lot of items with you that have high value, like laptops, tech items and other things.
What Are the Risks?
It might help to understand how common crime or thefts are at your college dorm or campus. You can check out the state by state list of crime on college campuses.
Insurance Options for College Students in Dorms or Rental Apartments
Knowing the options for college student insurance will help you make a decision on what kind of insurance you want to buy and may even help you take advantage of being covered for free.
What's the Best Way to Insure College Student Personal Property?
Students going to schools away from home and off to college, as well as their parents, often wonder how personal property is going to be covered by a parent's home insurance. Many people think that the solution to cover students property is buying a tenant policy. However, there are other options that may save you money.
Should You Buy a Renters Policy for College Students?
A renters policy is not always required to protect the personal property of students. It is an option, but there are other ways to get insurance that may not involve any additional cost. Paying for college is expensive enough, so it is good to know your options to find ways to save money.
3 Ways to Cover Property for Students in College Away From Home
- Buy a Renters Insurance Package for Students: This policy will also include liability coverage and additional living expenses coverage, which is very useful if your residence is made uninhabitable by a covered loss. It provides you with the necessary funds to pay for a temporary place to stay.
- Buy a College Student Personal Property Policy or a Dorm Insurance Policy: Cost will be significantly less than a tenant policy, coverages may be more limited depending on the plan you take. Beware that liability may not be included in these kinds of policies, so be sure and ask about adding it on. Deductibles on this kind of policy may be much lower.
- Take advantage of the "free" coverage included in a parent's homeowner policy. It is often included as part of the policy and simply extends a certain amount of coverage for the college student away at school. If more coverage is required, endorsements may also be added on for very little cost, as well as liability.
What Is Covered By College Student Insurance?
It depends on the kind of coverage you decide to choose. In each of the three ways listed above, you can choose options, add endorsements or coverages to insure the things that matter to you.
How Much College Student Dorm or Renters Insurance Do You Need?
If you are a music student or photography student, for example, you may need to get special coverage for musical instruments, or all your camera equipment and lenses. If you will be using a bike to get around, you may want to get special bicycle insurance or ask if your coverage has a limit on how much will be paid on a bike. The same goes for athletes and sporting equipment.
If you are looking to have a college student's personal property covered for free under a parent's home insurance policy, then knowing the value of your stuff is also important because a parent's policy may have a limit on the amount of coverage for personal property of a student away at school.
Tip: Think about what items of value you will bring with you and make sure those important items have the coverage you want. Do you want to be able to replace the items if they are stolen or lost? Make sure and ask what you will need to get a full settlement in a claim.
5 Important Things to Ask About When Buying College Student Renter or Dorm Insurance
- What perils are going to be covered under the insurance you choose. Some examples of perils that may be offered are theft, mysterious disappearance, fire, water damage. Ask for the specifics about the coverage you decide to take. Is your policy All Risk/Open Perils, or is it Named Perils?
- What is the basis of claims settlement? Will you get cash to replace the item? Will you need to replace the item before you are paid full value in a claim (Replacement Cost)? Will you only receive depreciated value (also known as Actual Cash Value or ACV)?
- What proof will be required before you get paid in a claim?
- What is the deductible?
- Are additional living expenses covered if your residence is made uninhabitable in the event of a claim or loss?
What Kinds of Insurance Coverage Do College Students Need?
Most college students will need some basic coverages such as property insurance, liability insurance, health insurance and car insurance. Personal property insurance and liability insurance are both available as options for renters insurance packages and may be added to a parent's homeowner policy as an endorsement. Some policies will automatically cover the personal liability of a student away at school (subject to age limitations with some carriers).
Health Insurance for College Students and Car Insurance are not included in residential insurance policies or personal property content policies and, therefore, must be purchased separately.
Here is what each of these coverages can provide insurance for and some tips on getting reduced rates, or finding coverage for less.
Personal Property Insurance
Electronics and technology form an important part of a student’s toolkit. Items like Computers, laptops, digital cameras, iPads, tablets, iPods, iPhones, and other phones can easily add up to a few thousand dollars if stolen or lost. These are usually the things that a student or parent might worry about most when heading off to college and taking up residence in a dorm, home or apartment away from home.
Personal property insurance may cover the student's personal belongings, including electronics and tech items. Personal property insurance for students also covers their clothes, books, and anything “movable” that they bring with them into their new residence. This is also known as the contents, read more about what's covered in our article about contents insurance.
Students' Personal Property Coverage On and Off Premises
Students are often carrying many things with them on campus. When purchasing insurance, or using a parent's home insurance policy for coverage for a college student, be sure and ask about the special limits of insurance and if there is a limitation on or off premises.
This will help you understand if you need extra insurance, or if everything will be adequately covered on the plan you purchase. If your things are constantly being brought with you on travels, or to the library and you then find out there is a limitation on claims payable for your laptop, technology or other devices, you may not be too happy if there is a claim. Ask this question to whomever you decide to get your college student property insurance coverage from.
Different policies have different deductibles. The deductible is the amount of money you will pay before a claim is covered.
For example, if your laptop is stolen and it is worth $1,000 to replace and you have a deductible of $500, then when you make the claim to replace your stolen laptop, you will pay the first $500 and the insurance company will pay the rest. If you have a low deductible of $25, for example, then you will pay the first $25 and your insurance company will pay $975. You can see how the deductible makes a major difference in how much money you may be paid in a claim.
People often choose a higher deductible to save money. For college students, the amount of personal property may not be as high and so deductible limits become important to know about.
If you decide to insurance yourself under a parent's home insurance policy, there may be a special deductible or the deductible may be the same as the homeowner policy.
In cases where a person prefers not to have a deductible, they may decide to add specific items, like a laptop or cell phone, to a special floater or endorsement. This will cost more money, but may provide coverage with no deductible.
Are College Students' Roommates Insured?
Only the named insured's or those falling under the definition of insured are insured on an insurance policy.
If your roommate got insurance, it doesn't mean you're covered too. Personal property insurance will not cover the property of roommates automatically.
Each roommate must either have their own insurance policy or be listed as a named insured on the policy declaration page. If an insurance policy is only in the name of the roommate, then you need to check with the insurance company representative and specifically ask about how the property of other roommates would be covered. The definition of the insured is important; just because people live together, if they are not considered an "insured" by the definition of the policy wording, then there may be a big problem in a claim.
Liability insurance is included in a renters policy and usually covered under a parent's home insurance policy if the student is under the care of the parent (a dependent) and under the age limit set by the insurance company. It is important to contact the parent's insurance company and make them aware of the student away at school if you want to be sure the liability is covered. The insurance agent will check your home insurance policy wording and will be able to advise if the coverage is automatic or if an extension of liability has to be added to the policy for the rented location, dorm, etc.
Liability insurance does not necessarily come with plans to cover a college student's personal property, but you can request that it be added. Make sure and pay the extra dollars for liability insurance because while away at college, your liability risk may be higher than you realize.
Liability Insurance for College Roommates — Don't Assume You're Covered
It is not unusual for students in college to have roommates. People often assume if one roommate has insurance, it is covering all roommates living in the dwelling. Insurance policy wording often excludes or does not cover roommates because a roommate is not in the definition of the insured.
Free Insurance for College Students Under a Parent's Home Policy
Nothing is really free, but this may be close to it since it may not cost you or your parents any additional money. You may be able to take advantage of "student away at school personal property coverage" (or a similar option) under a parent's home insurance policy if you fit the criteria of a college student away at school. Insurance companies may list limitations on the age of the student or the location of their college residence. Before you assume you have coverage, contact your home insurance company to let them know and ask your agent if you are covered and for how much.
Advantage of Using a Parent's Insurance Policy to Cover College Students
A parent's homeowner policy may have more coverage and cover more risks than a basic starter renter policy or a college student insurance policy. One example is mysterious disappearance coverage or all risk coverage, which covers everything that is not "excluded" in the policy wording.
Disadvantage of Using a Parent's Insurance Policy to Cover College Students
If you decide to be insured under your parent's policy, a claim may count against their insurance and they may lose a claims-free discount and the deductible may be higher. However, the cost of getting the coverage for free may be worthwhile.
Get Discounts on Your College Student Car Insurance
We've discussed property insurance and some options to get insurance for less for college students when living away from home. Here are two tips that might save you money on car insurance when a student is away at school.
- If a college student does not bring their car with them, then many insurance companies may offer a discount for the student away at school because they will not be driving for several months out of the year. Be sure and call your car insurance company to find out if you are eligible for this kind of discount.
- If as a college student you will be bringing your car with you to school, make sure and advise your car insurance company because the coverage may be different depending on where you will be going to school. While you speak to them about the upcoming change in the use of your car, you may also be able to get a good student discount or rebate on your car insurance premium. If you will only use your car to drive to and from school from your hometown, and not drive while on campus, you may be able to get a discount for the change in use. It is worth asking about all these things to see if there is any way to save money.