College is expensive. From increasing tuition and book fees, to dorm or off-campus rent (not to mention a food and entertainment stipend), sending a student to college is one of the largest investments a family will make. While you might not want to think about tacking on another expense, this is one that could be a money-saver in the long run — renters insurance.
When comparing this expense to the alternative of no coverage, renters insurance is a no brainer. The average cost of renters insurance in Ohio is about $179 a year, or less than $15 a month. In college terms, that’s about the cost of a DVD, pizza or a case of beer (groan!).
Not sure if your student needs renters insurance? This should help.
Why College Students Need Renters Insurance
College students heading to off-campus housing should consider renters insurance. Many take along high-ticket items that are prone to theft, including stereo equipment, laptops, iPads, digital cameras, smartphones, bikes and TVs.
So parents, before packing up the car for College U, find out how your homeowners insurance policy applies to your college-bound student and their belongings. The best (and easiest) way to figure out your current coverages and any gaps that may exist is to ask your insurance company or agent about student coverage needs.
For instance, if a college student lives off-campus with one or more roommates, they may be able to purchase a joint renters insurance policy for extra savings. But, other insurers may require separate policies for each roommate. And if a pet is taken along, liability coverage may be just as important as protecting belongings.
A college student living in a dormitory who is still a dependent is likely covered under the family’s homeowners insurance policy for items taken to school. However, depending on what your student takes, you may be limited on how much coverage applies. Typically, insurers limit coverage to 10 percent, based on the policy’s personal property limits. Whether that’s enough protection depends on the homeowners policy limits and what’s hauled off to college.
Whether your student’s destination is a dormitory or off-campus, walk through the following steps:
- Itemize what’s being taken to school.
- Take pictures and record model and serial numbers of electronics and bikes. Digitize copies of store receipts to document purchases.
- Compile a list of all possessions being taken to college in an online inventory.
- Based on this inventory, you and your insurer can make the right call on coverage needs.
Tip: For extra protection, mark your valuables using an invisible indelible marker (about $8.00) for identification purposes. Law enforcement will have an easier time returning your stolen property if it has your name and phone number on them.
What’s Covered Under Renters Insurance?
Renters insurance covers against losses such as theft, vandalism, fire or lightning, windstorm or hail, smoke, water-related damage from home utilities, electrical surge damage and more.
Want to learn more about renters insurance? Check out OII’s interactive edu-game for young adults, Guide to understanding renters insurance.
Most policies provide additional living expenses (ALE) coverage if your apartment becomes uninhabitable due to a covered peril. This helps cover expenses for a student to live elsewhere while the rental property is being repaired, rebuilt or until a new, permanent place of residence can be secured. In the unfortunate event a student is displaced from their apartment, this coverage is crucial to enabling them to carry on with studies with as little interruption as possible.
Liability protection is also standard with a renters policy. This is for student “what ifs.” What if your student hosts a party and someone trips and falls off the front porch? What if the house pet scratches or bites a guest? You’d be covered for these “what ifs” up to renters policy liability limits. This also covers a renter being sued, up to the limits of liability protection, and includes legal expenses.
Additional Coverages to Consider
If a student plans to take a pricey graduation gift or piece of jewelry to college (we recommend leaving these at home) or an extensive movie or music collection that can’t be left at home, consider optional coverage through an endorsement. Be sure to mention these items to your insurer to see if they’re covered by a standard renters policy or if you need additional coverage for them.
We wish all college bound students a careful and carefree experience. (Source: OhioInsurance.org)
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