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Dorm Insurance…Yes, No, Maybe?

As the summer begins to wind down, many first-year college students, as well as returning students, will move out of their parents’ homes and into their own living situations away from home.  As packing, organizing, and preparation for the big move begins, it may be a good idea to think about how to protect your student’s belongings from damage and theft.  Do they need additional or special insurance while they’re living away at school?  So here are the questions we’re asking in this blog:

  • Does my child need his or her own renter’s insurance policy?
  • Do we need additional homeowners coverage to protect recent and expensive purchases like textbooks, smartphone, or a laptop computer?
  • Is there dorm insurance to cover my child and his/her belongings when they live on campus?
  • What insurance does my student needs if he/she lives off campus?

The answers vary based on living situation and sometimes, school, but in the cases of students moving into on-campus dorm rooms, your current homeowner’s insurance policy should cover them.  This is the time to check with your insurance agent and discuss your homeowners policy, what it covers, and what exposures your student might have whether they live in campus housing or off campus in a rental.

Dorm Insurance

According to the Insurance Information Institute, most on-campus living situations, including dorms, apartments, or Greek life housing, will be covered by your existing homeowner’s policy.  They’ll be protected from all the same threats that your homeowner’s policy protects you from, including fires, vandalism, thefts, flooding, accidents, and more.  However, you may need to increase your coverage limits to protect all the new belongings your student will bring with them to school. Items like textbooks, computers, tablets, smartphones, musical instruments, sports equipment, and even a bicycle to get across campus, a television, mini-fridge, microwave, and more can increase the cost of possessions.

Understanding your homeowners policy and coverage

In most cases, your homeowner’s policy will cover dorm possessions for up to 10 percent of the limit of the contents of your home. Here’s an example:  if your contents limit is $100,000, and your homeowner’s policy only covers dorm possessions for up to 10 percent, then your student’s belongings would really only be eligible for $10,000 of coverage minus the deductible.

In case of fire, would $10,000 be enough coverage to insure all of your student’s belongings including clothes. If the answer is no or I’m not sure, now is the time to address this issue with your insurance agent, before your child moves into his/her new campus living situation.  You may not need to take out a separate policy for your student, but you may need to adjust the limits of your homeowners insurance policy to protect your family regardless of where they are living.

Time to take a dorm room inventory

The best way to determine how much coverage your student needs is by creating a dorm room inventory. Create a list of every item in your student’s dorm room, including things like clothing, jewelry, electronics, books, instruments, sports equipment, bedding, etc., and determine, to the best of your ability, each item’s monetary value.

This will not only help you decide how much coverage you need, but it can also serve as a way to prove ownership of damaged or stolen belongings if you ever need to file a claim. Make sure to take a photo of each item as you log it on your inventory sheet to prove not only ownership, but the condition of the item.  Then talk to your insurance professional to make sure your coverage is adequate.  Remember, raising the limit is much less expensive, than the cost of replacing items out of pocket.

A dorm insurance policy

Some insurance professionals feel that a dorm insurance policy, just for your student and his/her possessions is a great option.  They are very affordable, usually less than $150 a year and have a low deductible, often just $25 vs $500 or more on your homeowners policy.  The thinking is that your homeowners policy should be reserved for larger claims, like a fire or structural damage from a tornado than a stolen laptop or guitar.

What if my student plans to live off-campus?

For students preparing to move into off-campus housing, a rental apartment or house, you will need a separate renter’s insurance policy to protect their belongings. In fact, many private leasing offices require proof of renter’s insurance before you move in, as they receive no additional protection from the school like on-campus housing.

It’s important to still record an inventory of all your belongings when trying to determine the right renter’s policy for your student’s situation, especially because living off campus often means providing your own bed, desk, and other furniture. Renters insurance is very affordable and brings peace of mind, in case of theft, damage, or catastrophe, without breaking the bank.

About Foundation Insurance Group

Headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia and with a mid-west office in Louisville, Kentucky, Foundation Insurance Group is an independent full-service insurance agency specializing in auto, home, life, and business insurance.  Since our founding in 1994 the mission has been simple:  “Our mission is to provide solid solutions backed by superior service at a competitive price.”  For years we’ve partnered with a variety of top rated insurance carriers to fulfill this mission and to provide our clients with tailored insurance programs that fit the unique needs of an individual or business.

Ensure that your college student and his/her belongings are protected regardless of where they live…at home, in campus housing, or an off-campus rental.  Contact us today, or visit our website:  www.foundationinsurancegroup.com.

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