Are Your College Kids Covered Under Your Insurance?
Updated: Aug 28
Your college student may need extra insurance coverage.
It’s a mixed bag of emotions when the day arrives to send your child off to college. It often signifies the next steps into adulthood with greater autonomy, less oversight and a lot of planning.
As you hug them farewell, you’re not thinking about insurance — leave that to your agent.
Your college kids and your homeowners insurance
Homeowners and renters policies will cover a percentage of your child’s belongings if they live in a campus dormitory. The claims are subject to your deductible and will go on your claims history.
Home and renters policies offer worldwide coverage of your personal belongings, usually 10% of your personal contents limits. For example, if you have $100,000 in contents coverage, your insurance would cover up to $10,000 of your child’s belongings.
The cost of minor claims
If there’s a catastrophic loss, replacing your child’s belongings could cost thousands. But what if the loss is a single item, like a laptop? If you rely solely on your homeowners insurance, your deductible is probably around $1,000 or more.
Students bring many valuables to school, including:
Bags and shoes
The cost of items like these can straddle your policy deductible. Depending on your situation, making a claim on your homeowners policy might not be worth it.
You might decide to pay out of pocket or turn to another option.
Separate policy solutions
There are stand-alone policies for your college-age child, like:
Renters insurance for personal belongings in their off-campus apartment or dormitory
Dorm insurance for their on-campus housing or dormitory
Commuter insurance for their belongings while they’re on campus
Student policies are reasonably priced (under $500 per year) and typically offer advantages like:
Lower per-occurrence deductibles
Choice of policy limits
Coverage that extends worldwide
In general, the student is the named policyholder. A student dorm or commuter policy may not cover personal injury and liability, so verify the coverage before you sign.
Personal injury and liability insurance for your student
Personal injury and liability coverage is part of most homeowners and renters policies. It covers things like:
Personal liability example
If your student hosts a party (on or off campus) and someone is injured, the school might be named in a lawsuit. There’s always a chance a lawyer will name everyone present during the incident, including your child. Personal liability insurance can help.
Personal injury example
If your child posts something on social media or makes public allegations against someone, they could be sued for defamation. They will have to mount a legal defense regardless of innocence. Make sure your insurance coverage extends to physical and emotional injury.
If your child lives off campus rather than in a school dorm, they’ll need their own renters policy. An individual renters policy gives them access to more limits and options, which might cost more.
College students living at home
Let your agent know if your student lives at home, too. Their backpack might get stolen while on campus or they might become involved in a personal injury incident with another student or teacher. You can get a student commuter policy to cover these situations.
A few things insurance doesn’t cover
Most renters and homeowners policies exclude:
Pest damage — Home and renters policies don’t cover pest destruction. If there’s a pest problem at your child’s dorm or apartment, they should alert the maintenance department to mitigate the infestation.
Other people’s belongings — Insurance covers the people named on the policy. Your child’s roommate will need their own policy.
Accidental damage — Most standard home and renters policies don’t cover accidental damage. Merchants, manufacturers, warranties and credit cards offer accidental damage coverage. Some student insurance policies offer limited coverage for accidental damage, too.
Identity and data theft — Homeowners and renters policies have electronics coverage for physical losses due to events like fires or theft, but not lost data. Some student dorm insurance plans include identity theft protection, but they may be limited in their responses.
Advise your child to:
Use good security protocols. Keep the doors locked, and don’t hold the door for people. Locks and security keycards exist to deter criminals from walking in the front door.
Keep valuables locked and out of sight. Items like jewelry, expensive bags, cash, books and electronics are easier to steal if you leave them out.
Protect their data. Don’t share passwords or banking, credit card or other sensitive information. Watch out for criminals who prey on students using tuition overdue scams or other scare tactics to get them to click on fraudulent links.
Watch what they say. Going viral for the wrong reasons can harm your child’s future and finances, particularly if it results in a legal battle.
Inventory their belongings. Keep a record of valuables and maintain proof. Receipts, photos, deeds and appraisals make the claims process smoother. There are personal inventory apps that make the documentation process simple.
Call your agent about protecting your student
Think of insurance as a strategically layered approach. You might purchase stand-alone student insurance for smaller claims and increase your homeowners coverage limits for more significant claims.
Contact your insurance agent to ensure your college student is protected whether they live at home or away. At V.F. McNeil Insurance, we are always ready and happy to help you.