Table of Contents
- Do college students need renters insurance?
- Do I need renters insurance if I live in a dorm?
- Do I need renters insurance if I live off-campus?
- What does renters insurance for college students cover?
- Will renters insurance cover my college roommate?
- How to find cheap renters insurance for college students
Do college students need renters insurance?
The short answer is yes, most college students need renters insurance. College campuses are among the most frequently targeted areas for theft and vandalism. As a student, you need to have insurance to protect your belongings.
If you live on campus property, you have several options. You can get renters insurance, but you probably also qualify for dorm insurance, and might already be partially covered by your parent’s homeowners insurance policy. If you rent off-campus, you’ll definitely need a separate renters insurance policy of your own.
Do I need renters insurance if I live in a dorm?
You need some kind of property insurance if you live in a dorm. Computer and laptop insurance is particularly important, but students often bring other valuable items to school, like musical instruments, bikes, sports gear, etc., that need coverage as well.
Insurance options when you live in a college dorm
Like we said, when you live in a dorm, your insurance options are:
- Staying on your parents’ insurance policy
- Buying dorm insurance
- Buying renters insurance
Your parents’ insurance
If you live in a dorm or on-campus property, your valuables might be partially or fully covered under your parents’ homeowners or renters insurance, as long as you’re a full-time student.
You might be fully covered, but it’s also possible that you’ll receive about 10 percent of your parents’ total personal property coverage. For example, if their insurance covers their belongings up to $100,000, the policy would cover yours up to $10,000. The details of your coverage depend on the terms of your parents’ policy.
Be sure to check your parents’ homeowners insurance and determine the extent of your coverage. If it isn’t sufficient, you should look into buying your own insurance plan.
Because your parents’ insurance has coverage limitations, a dorm insurance policy can be a worthwhile investment. (Dorm insurance is also referred to as college renters insurance, college student insurance, and student insurance.)
Dorm insurance is designed to reimburse you or replace your possessions when they’re lost to a covered peril. It’s usually quite affordable — depending upon the plan you choose, your payments could start at $5 per month. Deductibles can run as low as $25. (Your deductible is the amount that you pay out-of-pocket when you file a claim.)
Although it covers your personal property, dorm insurance generally doesn’t include liability or additional living expenses coverage. It does, however, cover losses due to things like negligence or accidental water damage. For example, if you spill coffee on your laptop while pulling an all-nighter, you’re most likely covered.
Because dorm insurance policies are designed for small personal property claims (e.g. your laptop or bike, but not all the possessions you own in the world), their deductibles are lower than renters and homeowners policies.
The average dorm insurance deductible is way less expensive than the cost of replacing an entire laptop. This isn’t always the case for renters insurance deductibles, which are usually around $500. This makes dorm insurance a smart choice for students, who often have tight budgets.
We’ve already established that coverage under your parents’ homeowners insurance plan may have limitations. And since dorm insurance doesn’t cover personal liability (the money you have to pay if you break somebody’s property or somebody sues you), many dorm dwellers opt to purchase their own renters insurance policy that offers more comprehensive coverage.
There are a couple of scenarios where this can come in very handy. For example, imagine your room is your friends’ favorite hangout spot. You might need liability insurance if someone is injured or their property is damaged while they’re hanging at your place.
Additionally, renters insurance covers liability from pet damage, such as dog bites. Suppose you bring your pet to your dorm room regularly, and your fur baby chews up someone’s favorite jacket or bites your new boyfriend because she decides he’s no good. Renters insurance will cover it if you’re found liable for the jacket, or for your boyfriend’s medical bills. (Although you should think about finding a new boyfriend — animals can always tell.)
Do I need renters insurance if I live off-campus?
Yes, you need renters insurance if you live off-campus! Neither homeowners insurance nor dorm insurance covers students who live off-campus, so purchasing a renters insurance policy is your only option.
What does renters insurance for college students cover?
Whether you’re living in the dorm or in an apartment of your own, renters insurance covers the following:
If someone is injured or their property is damaged on your turf, and you’re found legally responsible, your liability insurance will help pay for those costs.
Additional living expense coverage
Suppose your rental is damaged by circumstances covered under your policy (like a fire, for example), and you need to find a temporary place to stay. In that case, your policy will provide additional living expenses or loss-of-use coverage, which will pay for things like a hotel room or restaurant expenses because you have no kitchen to make your ramen in anymore.
What renters insurance doesn’t cover
Although renters insurance covers most everyday events that can damage your possessions, it doesn’t protect everything. In particular, it doesn’t cover the following:
Renters insurance never covers vehicles. To insure your car or motorcycle against damage or theft, you need to buy an auto insurance policy. (However, renters insurance does cover possessions stored inside your car — if someone breaks into it and steals your iPad, your provider will reimburse you for it.)
Damage or loss caused by negligence
Let’s say you spill coffee on your laptop. Unlike dorm insurance, most renters insurance policies won’t pay for repairs or a replacement, because the damage was caused by your own error.
Similarly, although renters insurance normally covers bike theft, if you leave it unlocked on the street and someone steals it, you won’t be covered.
Floods, earthquakes, or bed bugs
Certain perils are rarely covered by renters insurance — most notably floods, earthquakes, and pest infestations (like bed bugs). Dorm insurance and homeowners insurance don’t usually cover those perils, either, so if you’re worried, you should contact your insurer and see if they offer a specific type of policy that does.
Unfortunately, college students are highly vulnerable to identity theft. Even though it has “theft” in its name (which is a covered peril), identity theft isn’t covered under standard renters insurance.
However, many insurers offer riders that cover identity theft. If you buy this rider, your insurer will help you repair your credit score and financial reputation if a fraudster rips you off.
Will renters insurance cover my college roommate?
Yes, many insurance companies will allow you to share a renters insurance policy with your roommate, but it usually isn’t a good idea.
If you share a policy and your roommate files a claim, it could end up on your report for at least three years. When it’s time to renew your policy, their claim could cause your monthly payments to go up. You also might have to switch insurers entirely if you’re deemed “high risk” because of a claim you weren’t responsible for.
There are plenty of other situations like these which can cause problems and create a rift in an otherwise great relationship. Consider this hypothetical: it’s your roommate’s month to pay the insurance bill, but they forget to do so. Your policy lapses, and your insurer hits you with an extra fee when you sign back up — or, worse yet, leaves you with insurance at all.
The bottom line is that, while sharing a policy with your roommate sounds convenient, buying separate policies is usually a better idea. It gives you more control over your coverage and protects you from getting penalized for your roommate’s actions.
How to find cheap renters insurance for college students
Renters insurance is quite affordable, even for college students with a limited budget. The average annual cost of renters insurance runs between $120 and $190, which translates to roughly $10 to $15 per month.
There are ways to get cheaper rates and still get insurance that’ll cover your stuff:
- Create an inventory to fine-tune the amount of coverage you need
- Ask your student housing department about renters insurance discounts
- Shop around for an exceptional insurance provider
Create an inventory
Before signing up for a renters insurance policy, you should create an inventory to calculate the total value of your belongings.
The average renter owns about $30,000 of stuff, but as a student, you might own significantly less. If that’s the case, you can reduce the amount of personal property coverage you buy, which will lower your monthly premiums.
To create an inventory, write down a list of everything you have in your apartment or dormitory and estimate how much it all costs (it’s okay to group similar items together, like books and clothes). Search the web if you’re not sure how much something is worth.
Ask your school for advice
Some colleges and universities maintain relationships with insurance companies to help their students get discounts on renters and dorm insurance. Check with the housing department at your school for more information on where to find the best renters insurance for college students.
Shop around to get the best deal
Take an hour or two and compare coverage and price from different insurance companies. Most providers offer free renters insurance quotes on their website — you’ll usually have to answer a few questions about your living situation, but you won’t have to provide any personally identifiable information.
One popular choice for college students: Lemonade
During your research, you’ll probably run across Lemonade. It’s many students’ favorite insurance provider for several reasons, including:
- They’re relatively inexpensive compared to other insurance providers.
- Lemonade offers coverage plans tailored to suit the needs of students. (For example, its basic policy covers portable electronics like phones and laptops up to $1500, and increasing this coverage limit is very simple.)
- Filing a claim is very easy, and can be done on their website or with the Lemonade app on your smartphone.
Lemonade has two main downsides:
- Because they don’t offer auto insurance, there’s no way to bundle your renters and auto insurance together to get a discount. If you have a car, check whether your auto insurer also offers renters insurance — if so, that will probably be your most cost-effective option.
- Because Lemonade claims are handled online, it can be difficult to get in touch with their customer service over the phone, although you can always send them a message through the app. If you’re like many college students and prefer texting to calling, this might not be much of a downside.