Insurance Coverage for Your College Student
So, your son or daughter is gearing up to leave for college in a few weeks... Have you thought about insurance and if he or she is covered while at school?
Let's tackle this question: Your homeowners insurance will generally cover them if they are living in a dorm. They will have the same liability limits as if they were in your home, but the coverage for their belongings may be limited to 10% of your total possessions coverage (the rules vary by insurer). Many homeowners insurance policies cover possessions up to 70% of the home-coverage limits -- so if you have a $200,000 homeowners insurance policy, you’d have up to $140,000 in coverage for your possessions in your home, and up to $14,000 in coverage for items that are off-premises, such as in a dorm room. Add up the value of your student’s things and make sure you have enough coverage -- you may want to buy some extra coverage if they have an expensive computer system and other valuable electronics.
However if your student is going to live in an off-campus apartment, your homeowner's insurance policy will more than likely not extend coverage. In that case, it’s a good idea to buy a separate renters’ insurance policy. Renters’ coverage is surprisingly inexpensive -- generally just $125 to $250 per year, which would cover all of the student’s possessions and provide $100,000 to $300,000 in liability coverage. If your student has roommates, each one should get his own renters’ insurance policy, which will cover his own possessions and liability.
Most renters’ policies will also pay the extra cost to live somewhere else temporarily if your student needs to move out for a while if the apartment is damaged. And both homeowners and renters’ policies will cover your student’s laptop or other items if they are stolen while they are away from their dorm or apartment. For example, a laptop stolen at the school library would be covered.
Lastly, make sure and let your insurance agent know that your student is going away to college even if he does not take a car to school. If he goes to school more than 100 or 150 miles away from your home and doesn’t take a car, you could get a big discount on your auto insurance premiums but still have coverage for him when he comes home for holidays and vacations, or if he borrows a car while away at school. If he does take a car, his premiums may rise or fall depending on the location of the college, where he’s parking his car, and how many claims the insurer has had to pay in that area. Also, be sure to let your insurer know if your student gets good grades -- many insurers continue to offer a discount on car insurance premiums for students who maintain a B average or better in college.