It’s that time of year again. School is about to be back in session. For some of you, your child is heading off to college – maybe as a first year freshman or that super senior status and anywhere in between. It’s time to make that big move possible into the dorm or into an apartment. And of course with that move, they take many items.
Typically, when a student moves into a dorm structure on a college campus, they don’t have a lot of space so they are trying to cram as much into that tiny space as possible – electronics, clothes, etc. What this means is that these items are no longer in under your roof and in your home. So, the question begs, are these items covered under your insurance plan? In many cases, since this is considered “temporary” living quarters within an institution most items would still be covered under your homeowner’s policy as the student’s permanent address is still considered your home address. However, it is also best to check with your insurance policy about items such as electronics (computer, phone, etc.) and higher-end valuables (jewelry, etc.).
However, if your student is moving into an apartment or renting a home with a signed lease and own address within that complex, this could mean something else for those belongings that your child is bringing along with them. These items, considered personal property, are no longer typically covered under your homeowner’s insurance in this situation. It is very important that your child take out renter’s insurance for these items while living in the apartment or rented home. The landlords’ or apartment complexes’ insurance will not cover these personal items in case of damage, fire, etc.
So, how do you know how much renter’s insurance coverage to get? Renter’s insurance is really based on your personal property so determining the value of these items is key. The Insurance Information Institute provides an online tool at KnowYourStuff.org. that allows you to inventory your items for personal property claim purposes. An inventory list is a great idea for renters as it helps them have documentation of their items in the event of fire or theft. Be sure to update your inventory as you acquire new items. Make this part of your quarterly or at least annual plan for your personal belongings. According to TrustedChoice.com, “The average renter owns $20,000 worth of personal belongings.”
The average renter’s insurance policy in Michigan is approximately $210 per year. That is around $17.50 per month.
Although there isn’t a law in the U.S. that requires renter’s insurance, some landlord’s do require their tenants to hold renter’s insurance as a requirement of their lease and require proof of this policy. This is completely legal and really is protecting both parties should something impact the tenant’s personal property.
One question we get asked often is “is it okay to have one policy for all the roommates living in the same apartment or home?” The answer is typically no, unfortunately. While it may save money initially, the savings is small and is not worth the risk. Roommates are typically not covered by the policyholder’s renter’s insurance policy, meaning the personal property, liability and loss of use (if the rental becomes unlivable) would not extend to the roommate. It is best to check with your agent and respective insurance company to make sure the policy is properly covering your personal property.
To recap, make sure you understand your child’s living arrangements as he or she heads off to college. This will help you to best understand how this impacts your insurance policy and to make sure your child’s personal property is protected through the existing homeowner’s policy or to determine if a renter’s policy is necessary.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us to review your policy.