While you already have enough to worry about when your child leaves for college, you don't want the specter of them dealing with the theft or damage of their possessions while there.
For less than $180 a year, you can protect your college student’s possessions against theft or damage caused by fire, lightning, smoke, vandalism, electrical surges, windstorms or hail, water damage from utilities or appliances, and more. The same insurance also provides liability protection for students living off-campus.
Considering that a laptop can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000, that $179 premium to replace such items doesn't seem so bad.
Also, your child likely has a number of other expensive items, such as a smartphone, TV, tablet, computer, printer, furniture, clothes, jewelry or bike. In other words, plenty of pricey stuff.
What kind of insurance does your college student need?
Renter's insurance, although they may not actually require it, depending on your current insurance coverage, as explained below.
An added benefit of purchasing a renter's policy in the student's name is that any claims filed will not be on the record of your own policy.
Some insurers allow students rooming together off-campus to purchase a joint renter's policy, whereas others require that each student has renter's insurance.
Does your homeowner's policy cover your college student?
Homeowner's policies typically cover the belongings of students younger than 26 who live away from home and are enrolled in classes. But policies vary.
If you rely on a coverage extension from your homeowner's policy, your college student would have limited coverage on his or her possessions, as most policies limit the amount of insurance to 10% of the total coverage for personal possessions. Some possessions, like jewelry, electronics and computers, may have specific coverage limits.
If your child lives off-campus, the possibility exists that his or her personal property will not be covered by your homeowner's policy.
How much renters coverage does a college student need?
Ask your child to create an inventory of the items he or she has at college. From that you can make an informed decision about the amount of coverage required and whether any specific endorsements (like jewelry coverage) should be purchased.
Back up this written list with photos or videos of valuables.
How else can you protect your college student’s belongings?
Aside from purchasing insurance, here are some common-sense tips:
- Engrave electronics and other possessions with their name and phone number, or mark items with an invisible permanent marker - a simple action that can help police validate stolen items.
- Keep digital copies of store receipts for high-ticket items.
- Remind your child to lock the door every time he or she leaves their dorm room/apartment. Valuables like wallets and keys should be stored out of sight as a habit.
- Leave all unnecessary valuables at home.
- Remind your child not to leave his or her backpack, laptop or other possessions unattended in dining halls, in the library, or anywhere on campus, including in classrooms. Use a laptop security cable to deter thieves.
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It's easy to gamble and say no to insurance. But for an average rate of under $15 a month, you can get peace of mind, and if the unexpected happens, you'll be covered.