Students and Renter’s Insurance

While a renter’s insurance policy may not be the first thing on your moving-to-college checklist, it could be one of the most important items you invest in.

Renter’s insurance plans for college students are used to protect the personal possessions of students in a variety of living situations, both on and off campus. Most of a college student’s possessions can be covered by a typical renter’s insurance policy if damaged or lost due to a covered disaster. With some more comprehensive renter’s insurance policies for college students, borrowed items that are damaged or lost by the policyholder, medical injuries accidently caused by the policyholder or his or her personal property and even living costs when the primary rental home is deemed unlivable for a covered disaster can all be covered. Keep reading to learn more about the most common types of insurance plans chosen by college students, what a typical renter’s insurance plan for college students covers and what situations may make you want to consider investing in one.

When do college students need renter’s insurance?

There are a few types of insurance plans available to protect a college student’s possessions in various living situations. College students who live in on campus housing may not need a renter’s insurance policy or any additional insurance policy at all if their parents already have a comprehensive homeowner’s policy. Many homeowner’s insurance plans cover the children of the primary policyholder as long as they are not living in an independent home, often up to a limit of 10 percent of the total plan worth. If a student’s parents have a homeowner’s insurance policy worth $50,000, they are probably protected by that plan for up to $5,000 worth of their personal possessions.

If the college student would like a higher coverage limit, the family can consider increasing the total amount of the plan’s coverage or request that a few high value items are covered separately in a floater or endorsement. Floaters may add a few dollars a month onto the price tag of your insurance policy but guarantee that your most expensive possessions will receive full coverage without taking away coverage for all of your other personal belongings. In any case, details of your specific plan should be reviewed with your insurance provider.

Students living on campus whose parents do not have a homeowner’s insurance policy or who would like to invest in their own, separate coverage most often look into dorm insurance policies. Dorm insurance providers are offered by select insurance policies explicitly for the purpose of protecting the personal possessions of students who live in communal housing buildings or areas on campus. These policies often have lower deductibles than homeowner’s insurance policies and even many renter’s insurance policies as well. Students living on campus with many high value items may benefit greatly from dorm insurance plans. Renter’s insurance plans are best for college students living off-campus. Even if your parents have comprehensive homeowner’s insurance, there is a good chance it does not cover offspring living in independent housing with a separate legal contract. In these instances, the only option is to purchase a renter’s insurance plan.

How do renter’s insurance plans for college students work?

When a college student decides they will need their own renter’s insurance policy, it is time to think about what type of plan will most suit their needs. Renter’s insurance plans are generally very affordable, costing about $15 to $20 per month, and can offer complete protection for thousands of dollars of personal possessions. Most renter’s insurance policies cover more or less the same items and situations, but come in one of two different payout formats: actual cash value (ACV) insurance plans and replacement cost insurance plans. In the case of an insured disaster, ACV plans provide the current-day value for lost or damaged items instead of the original purchase price. For example, a policyholder with an ACV plan whose insured television, purchased for $1,000 two years ago, is stolen may only receive a payout of $600 or so (whatever price the used TV might sell for today). Replacement cost plans, on the other hand, will cover the cost for the replacement of all insured possessions in the case of loss or damage due to a covered disaster. Replacement cost plans usually have higher premiums and deductibles than ACV plans because of the higher average payout amounts.

Comprehensive renter’s insurance plans generally also include some form of personal liability coverage. In most cases, this protects you from having to pay out of pocket if you are sued because someone is accidently hurt by you or your personal property. You can usually choose how much liability coverage you would like, with tens of thousands of dollars of coverage typically only costing you a few more dollars a month. Many renter’s insurance plans for students also offer additional living expenses (ALE) coverage to protect them from going bankrupt during an insured emergency that makes their rented home temporarily unlivable. During the time when the rented property is considered unlivable, ALE coverage provides living expenses for the policyholder such as costs associated with hotel stays, restaurants or other food stores, transportation and more.

What does renter’s insurance cover for college students?

Most types of renter’s insurance plans are also known as HO-4 or HO4 plan, which provide a specific list of disasters and emergencies that qualify a policyholder for payment for damaged or lost possessions from their plan. Some of the most common situations that are generally protected by renter’s insurance policies for college students include damage caused by:

  • Theft, vandalism or malicious mischief
  • Fire or smoke, explosions or volcanic eruptions
  • Wind, hail, lightening and the weight of ice, snow or sleet
  • Vehicles, air craft or falling objects
  • Freezing or overheating over some water systems such as the air conditioning and heating systems

Most renter’s insurance plans do not cover select personal possessions. These include any extremely costly items like jewelry or antiques, which will only be covered up to a defined limit unless covered explicitly in an attached rider. Students who own a significant amount of electronic hardware, such as multiple computers, televisions, gaming systems, data mining ware, etc., may also need to purchase additional coverage to avoid reaching any specific limits that your renter’s insurance policy may have concerning payouts for one category of personal possessions. Renter’s insurance coverage generally provides policyholders with protection for their personal possessions when in their home, car or other location with the policyholder. Many plans also cover personal belongings of other people that the policyholder has in their possession. Any damage or lost items caused by insect or animal infestations of any kind will not be covered and neither will damage by certain pets like pit bulls. Any problems caused by criminal behavior is categorically excluded as well.

Affordable Renter’s Insurance Policies for College Students

Shopping for an insurance plan for college students is very similar to purchasing any other type of insurance policy. Begin by doing a little online research to learn about the sorts of renter’s insurance policies that are being offered in your area. If possible, check an insurance aggregator website that allows you to compare the pros and cons of different plans from different insurance providers. It is also a good idea to talk to the school that the college student is attending. Oftentimes, they offer specific plans for their students or have agreements with local insurance providers to get their students good discounts on comprehensive plans. If your parents have homeowner’s insurance, do not forget to contact their insurance provider to see what sort of renter’s insurance plan they may be able to offer you to stick with them and not move to another company. In most cases, you should be able to find a comprehensive renter’s insurance plan for students that cost around $200 a year for tens of thousands of dollars in coverage for personal possessions, liability issues and ALE funds.

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