Do College Students Need Renters Insurance?

Posted in on 09/17/2015

Do College Students Need Renters Insurance?

Do students need renters insurance if they live in a dorm? Here's a handy guide to knowing when you're still covered under your parents' homeowners insurance, and when it's time to get your own renters insurance.

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The first step of considering renters insurance is to talk through all of your options, starting with whether renters insurance makes sense for you.

The next step is figuring out whether you’re already covered. If you’re in college, you may have carry-over protection from your parents’ homeowners insurance. Similar to health insurance policies, you can often get coverage from your parents’ plan even if you’ve moved out of the house.

So, how do you know when you’re still covered under your parents’ homeowners insurance? Read our guide below to find out whether your things are already protected, and what you can do to get coverage if you want it.

Renters Insurance If You Live in a Dorm

Are you covered by your parents’ insurance in a dorm? In general, yes.

In general, if you’re under 26 years old and you live in on-campus housing like a dorm, your belongings are likely covered under your parents’ homeowners insurance, at 10% of their coverage.

So, if they’re insured for up to $500,000 (most people choose coverage that would allow them to rebuild their home if necessary), then you may be insured for up to $50,000 in a typical scenario.

That means, after reaching your deductible, you would be able to replace damaged or stolen items using up to $50,000 dollars in pay-outs.

Double check your parents’ policy to confirm that you are actually covered. You can do this a couple ways:

  • You can check online by logging in to view the full policy — not just the policy declaration — and search for the word “school” to see what the policy includes.
  • You can also call your parents’ insurance with the policy number handy and ask to check on what coverage you have while you’re away at school.

If you find that you’re not covered and you want some protection for your things, you can shop for renters insurance while living in a dorm. Many insurance companies do not offer renters insurance for people living in dorms, so you’ll need to double check that your policy covers on-campus housing.

Renters Insurance If You’re Renting an Apartment or House

Are you covered by your parents’ insurance in a rental? In general, no.

While living off-campus in your own rental, you are most likely not covered by your parents homeowners insurance. You can double check by logging in online or calling their agent with the policy number. If you want to protect your things, you can get renters insurance.

Even if your landlord has homeowners insurance, it only protects the building itself and it will not extend to cover damage or loss to your personal property. It’s a common misconception that if a landlord has property insurance, tenants are also protected — in fact, to protect your personal property, you’ll need renters insurance. A nice bonus with renters insurance is that it also offers liability protection and living expenses in the case of some covered events.

If you have roommates, you can share a renters insurance policy and share the cost of the monthly premium…but remember that any pay-out checks you receive will be made out to everyone on the policy.

Pro tip — Many universities partner with insurance companies to offer discounted insurance rates for registered students; check your student resource center to see if you have access to any discounts. You might also be able to get a discount by buying from the same company where you get your car insurance. For more resources, check out roundups from NerdWallet and The Simple Dollar on the best renters insurance.

Renters Insurance If You Live in a Fraternity or Sorority

Are you covered by your parents’ insurance in a frat or sorority house? It depends.

The first thing you’ll have to figure out is whether your house counts as on-campus housing or off-campus housing. Confirm with the head of your house, but if your house is officially sanctioned by the university, and rented from the university, it’s probably on-campus.

If you live in an on-campus house, then you may be covered under your parents’ homeowners insurance just as if you were living in a dorm.

If you live in a house that is designated as off-campus housing, you’ll probably need to purchase your own renters insurance if you want to protect your stuff. In this scenario, similar to living in a rented apartment or house, you’ll need renters insurance in order to cover the loss or damage of personal property, even if the building is insured by the fraternity or sorority organization.

Pro tip - Some fraternities and sororities have partnerships with insurance carriers to offer discounted renters insurance. For instance, check out GEICO’s fraternity and sorority membership discounts. While shopping, compare fraternity and sorority discounts to your school’s discount, if they offer one.

Renters Insurance If you Live in a Co-op

Are you covered by your parents’ insurance in a co-op? It depends.

If you live in a co-op, same deal as with fraternities and sororities. First, find out whether or not your house is designated as university-sponsored, on-campus housing. If your co-op is sanctioned by the university, in a building owned by the university, and (huge giveaway) if you make your rent check out to the university — you live in on-campus housing and may be covered by your parents’ homeowners insurance.

If you live in an off-campus co-op and want to insure your things, it’s time to start looking at renters insurance policies. Again, even if your co-op has homeowners insurance on the building itself, individual tenants and their belongings — you and your stuff — are not covered unless renters insurance is in the picture.

Getting the Most Out of Your Insurance

If you’ve decided that you want insurance to protect your things, there’s a lot of ways to get the most out of a policy — starting by using any coverage that your parents’ policy can extend your way.

The next step, whether you’re using your parents’ homeowners insurance or getting your own renters insurance, is taking a detailed inventory of the things you want to protect. Stay tuned for the next part of Student’s Guide to Renters Insurance to learn all about how to make the best inventory.

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