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Why College Students May Need Renter’s Insurance


College students who’re already looking for laptops, textbooks and other campus gear will probably want to add something else to their list: renter’s insurance.

The insurance will help pay for private property that’s stolen or damaged by accidents like fires from cooking. It offers liability coverage to assist cover medical and legal costs if someone is injured at your home or someone’s belongings are damaged. And a few policies pay for a hotel and meals, if a calamity leaves the property unlivable.

Students may not think they’ve much gear, but replacing clothes, furniture and electronic gadgets adds up. A stolen backpack with a laptop, tablet and textbooks can easily total $3,000, said John Fees, co-founder and managing director with GradGuard, which markets student renter policies.

Students living in dorms can have partial coverage through their parents’ homeowner policies, said Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, an industry group. This “off-premises” coverage, nevertheless, is commonly lower than the homeowner policy’s profit limit — say, 10 percent. If the policy covered belongings as much as $100,000, the coverage for the dorm room can be $10,000.

“Chances are you’ll not have as robust coverage at a special location,” said Karen Collins, assistant vp of non-public lines on the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, an industry group.

Some homeowner policies don’t robotically include a student’s residence, so it’s best to verify coverage, Mr. Fees said. Homeowner policies often have a better deductible — an amount that’s subtracted from a claim payment — than a renter’s policy, he said.

Some colleges may require students to hold insurance as a part of their campus housing contract. And plenty of property owners who rent off-campus housing require students to purchase coverage, said Alexandra Alvarado, director of selling and education for the American Apartment Owners Association, which provides services to landlords.

“The owner has insurance on the property itself,” she said, “but that doesn’t include the tenant’s property.”

If you’ve a renter’s policy, your belongings are sometimes covered even in the event that they are stolen away from home. Ms. Alvarado recalled that when she was in college, her laptop was stolen from her automotive and her renter’s policy paid to interchange it.

A renter’s policy doesn’t cover every thing. The policy may shield you if someone trips and gets hurt in your apartment, but not if a guest intentionally punches a hole within the wall, Ms. Alvarado said: “That’s what the safety deposit is for.”

The common annual renter’s premium was $174 in 2019, in response to the Insurance Information Institute. Some policies cost less. Lemonade, a web-based insurer, offers basic policies starting at $5 a month.

Coverage details can vary by state and by insurer. Ensure the policy’s maximum profit is high enough to cover your belongings. At all times check to see if the policy pays the alternative cost of damaged property reasonably than actual money value, which could also be less, and if it lists any exclusions. Policy language may be confusing, so ask in the event you don’t understand something.

Students with items that exceed their policy’s coverage amount, like special computer equipment or musical instruments, may have the option so as to add them at extra cost, Ms. Worters said.

A renter’s policy typically covers water damage brought on by sprinkler systems which might be by chance set off or from rain entering through a damaged roof — but generally not from floodwater flowing in from the bottom up. For that, you would wish a flood insurance policy.

How frequent is water damage from sprinkler system mishaps? “I wouldn’t describe it as common, but when it does occur, it’s significant,” said Josh Gana, facilities and physical environment director with the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International.

Students may mistakenly activate a sprinkler by knocking a ball across the room or by hanging something on a system fixture, he said. Water can soak a room quickly, and linked sprinklers may damage other students’ belongings.

After a fatal dorm fire in 2000 at Seton Hall University, more colleges installed fire suppression systems, Mr. Fees said. There have been about 1,200 fires in on-campus housing in 2020, in response to federal data.

Listed here are some questions and answers about insurance at school:

No. Some insurers may add a roommate to your policy for a rather higher premium, Ms. Worters said. If not, your roommate would wish a separate policy to have coverage.

Unlikely. Renter’s policies typically cover theft of a laptop in addition to damage or destruction from fire or other “perils.” But knocking the device off a desk and cracking the screen doesn’t qualify. Special laptop plans offered by some insurers and device makers, or an prolonged warranty or service contract, can provide coverage. Consumer Reports found little profit in prolonged computer warranties, nevertheless, because the fee is comparable to the fee of a repair.

Auto rates are typically higher for teenagers. But in case your student is away and never driving your automotive, it’s possible you’ll be eligible for a lower rate, so check together with your insurer, said Robert Passmore, vp of auto and claims policy with the American Property Casualty Insurance Association.

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