I remember taking my son to college in 1999. He wasn’t even 18 years old yet, and here we were carting all of his belongings off to Ithaca, New York. We were excited, happy, sad, and nervous—all at the same time. Did we give any thought to insuring his possessions? Nope. Not until a few weeks later, when a shelf in his dorm room collapsed and destroyed his brand new laptop. We’re older and wiser now, so I wanted to share a few things we learned.
If your son or daughter is living in a dormitory, your homeowners insurance policy will probably provide some coverage. Typically, the limit of coverage for the dorm room contents is 10% of whatever the parent’s personal property coverage limit is. So if your homeowners policy has a personal property limit of $150,000, then the amount of coverage available for the contents of the dorm room is 10% of that, or $15,000. Remember that your deductible still applies.
If your student is living in an off-campus apartment, it’s best to obtain a tenants insurance policy for him (it’s pretty inexpensive). And if there are roommates, they each should get their own tenants policy. In addition to providing personal property coverage, a tenants policy includes other coverage that may be even more important: Additional Living Expense and Liability Coverage.
- Additional Living Expense will pay your student’s increased costs to live elsewhere if, after a covered loss, the apartment is not fit to live in.
- Personal Liability will pay if your student is legally liable for injury to people or property caused by an occurrence which is covered under
the policy. In addition, the insurance company will provide a defense for your student.
When Extra Coverage is Warranted
All policies have limitations, so if your student is taking a lot of expensive electronic equipment to school, you might want to purchase special coverage for that. (Leave the family heirloom jewelry at home!)
One more word of caution: Insurance policies vary greatly, so it’s important to speak with your insurance professional to learn what coverage your own policy does and doesn’t provide. Your student’s college years are exciting times for the whole family. Don’t add any unwanted excitement; be sure the proper insurance protection is in place.