Sending your child off to college is a rite of passage filled with happiness, sadness, excitement, fear, nervousness, and anxiousness. You are beyond proud of your child and what their next chapter holds.
As you are getting ready to help your child spread their wings, filling their dorm rooms or apartments with items from home, stocking their refrigerators with food, giving that long last hug, drying tears, putting on the brave face that they will be ok and silently praying for safety with their newfound independence. One last thing to remember is renters’ insurance.
It’s not just about dorm rooms, first apartments, and adulting, but maybe the dumb stuff college students do.
College life is all about the “firsts.” The first time living away from home, being independent, exams, all-night study sessions, college parties, and perhaps the inevitable first mistakes, like falling asleep or forgetting about that pizza in the oven. It’s in these situations that the value of renters insurance becomes crystal clear.
Why Does My College Student Need Renter’s Insurance?
The easiest answer is to protect their possession and cover the liability of the “dumb stuff” they may do. Renters’ insurance provides coverage for their personal items in cases of theft, fire, other damages, and “stupidity”. More importantly, it offers liability protection if someone gets hurt in their rented space. Which “their rented space” more than likely has your name on it too. And if they have a claim and their place becomes unlivable, insurance can cover additional living costs.
Let’s chat about this scenario – because it didn’t happen when I was away at college…
Pizza catastrophe, ok in my case it was a tea kettle that was on so long all the water evaporated and melted the pot. Thank goodness I didn’t start a fire, but I did have a stinky apartment, a ruined tea kettle, and three very annoyed roommates.
Ok, imagine your kid “studying” deep into the night and putting a pizza in the oven or microwave because they are hungry. Exhaustion takes over, they fall asleep, and the pizza causes a fire. Beyond the torched pizza, the fire damages the kitchen, books, laptop, and more. If you have renters’ insurance, the damages become financially manageable. But what if you didn’t have a renter’s policy?
Without Renters’ Insurance:
- Financial Strain: You’ll be out-of-pocket for all of the damage. For my student, replacing textbooks, let alone electronics, would be financially straining and end up on our plates.
- Liability Issues: If someone gets hurt because of an accident in your rented space, you might be liable for their medical expenses. Without insurance, these costs come directly from your pocket.
I Have a Question: Can My Student Use My Homeowners Insurance?
The answer is, “It depends.” And if it does, your homeowner’s insurance now has a claim that can impact your insurability and premium for the next 3 to 5 years. When you see the cost of a renters policy, it will be a no-brainer decision.
But here is the low down:
- Coverage Limitations: Some homeowners’ policies might extend coverage to students living on campus, but often at a reduced amount. For example, the policy might cover a small percentage of your home insurance property limit for belongings outside the main residence.
- How about if my kid doesn’t live in a dorm or now lives Off-campus? Once your child lives off-campus, many homeowners’ policies won’t extend coverage. This leaves the student unprotected in case of damages or theft. Often they sign leases that include clauses that they must have certain insurance limits. Even if they don’t have insurance OR not enough insurance, they still agree to those amounts. This means they (or you) are responsible for what you agreed to.
- Liability: Even if your policy covers their possessions outside of your home, your policy might not cover liability for incidents that occur within the student’s rental.
Wait, I Have One More Question: My Son or Daughter Took Our Car to College. Does This Matter?
Good ‘ol Wisconsin Lingo- You betcha! Yes, it matters. If you allow your vehicle to go with your child keep in mind this “LEND” rule:
- Location Matters: If the school is in a different city or state, especially one with higher accident rates or different weather conditions, the insurance premium may increase or decrease depending on the risk associated with that location.
- Each State has its own laws/rules. Depending on the state and the insurance provider, there may be a need to adjust coverage, especially if the car is now parked on a college campus or in another location where the risk of theft or damage differs from its original location.
- Not all insurance companies are in every State.
- Driver “assignment” changes. Your Student is now the primary driver of that vehicle.
Don’t forget that grades matter! Check to see if your insurance carrier offers a good student discount!
The world of college is unpredictable. Between balancing studies, social lives, and newfound independence, mishaps, and scenarios like the forgotten pizza…might happen. While some might bank on their parents’ homeowners insurance or have nothing at all, it’s essential to make an informed decision.
Renters insurance is smart and affordable. Remember, while burnt pizzas are salvageable, accidents without adequate protection are not.
College is for learning, growing, and having fun! Before your college student marches into the new school year, give us a call to get your student (and you) the gift of peace of mind.
P.S. Go K-State and have a great year James!