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Do College Students Need Renters Insurance?


College can be an exhilarating time for young adults. While you’re busy meeting new people and learning new things, it’s also important to safeguard your personal belongings from the unique exposures of collegiate life. Often, the best way to do this is by securing a renters insurance policy.

What is Renters Insurance?

Renters insurance, or tenant insurance, is a common coverage offered by many insurers. Structured like a homeowners policy, renters insurance covers damage or loss of personal property if caused by covered perils. It also includes protection for some liability exposures and will pay for some additional living expenses if the dwelling is uninhabitable due to a covered cause of loss.

Covered causes of loss typically include theft, vandalism, fire/smoke, impact/falling objects and some types of water damage.

Renters insurance does not cover the structure of your home or unit (walls/roof/floor). The building owner is responsible for insuring the structure.

Notable Collegiate Exposures

While assessing the need for renters insurance, it’s important to understand common loss exposures that are unique to college life. There are a few exposures present in dorm living and off-campus living that are a little different than exposures faced by the average homeowner.

  • Theft: According to the Insurance Information Institute, burglaries account for about 50% of on-campus crimes. Forgetting to lock the door, leaving a key under the mat or simply leaving personal belongings out in the open all contribute to a greater incidence of crime.
  • Fire: College students are very busy and easily distracted, which is why cooking fires are a common source of renters insurance claims.
  • Vandalism: When you combine thousands of young adults in a small space, things can get crazy. It’s no wonder that vandalism is a notable exposure.
  • Liability: What if someone is injured in your apartment – or – claims that you damaged their property? Your renters policy provides some coverage for these scenarios.
  • Electronics: Most college students own a laptop and smartphone. Ask your insurance agent how these items would be covered under your homeowners or renters insurance policy. Also, keep in mind that you may have bought coverage from the manufacturer at the time of purchase.

Taking the Guardian’s Homeowners Policy into Account

You may be wondering if it’s worthwhile to have renters insurance if a student is living in a dorm or off-campus apartment. Generally, it depends on the coverage afforded by the guardian’s homeowners policy.

Under a standard homeowners policy, a dependant full-time, undergraduate student who moves out in order to attend school is covered under off-premises coverage. However, not every homeowners policy includes off-premises coverage and the off-premises coverage limit may not be sufficient to protect the student’s personal belongings. In some cases, homeowners policies only provide off-premises coverage to students under a certain age. It’s important to review the details of your policy before you decide about renters insurance.

Students living off-campus tend to have more furniture and electronics than dorm-dwellers and may also be at greater risk of having a visitor get injured on their premises – due to slip and fall, dog bite or another type of accident. Renters insurance provides some coverage in these scenarios.

In addition, many off-campus property owners require college students to carry renters insurance. This is because a typical property insurance policy will not extend coverage to a tenant’s belongings. Even if it is not required, renters insurance is a worthwhile investment. The coverage is inexpensive and can help students and their parents manage the financial impact of unexpected accidents and mishaps.

Contact a FICOH agent to learn more about your renters insurance options today.