While preparing to send your child to college, insurance might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Packing, last minute laundry tips, shelling out hundreds on books, and mentally preparing to say goodbye to your baby are in the forefront. However, insuring your college student might be more important than you think.
College may be portrayed as a time when students buy 30 cent noodles for every meal, but think about all of the new toys a student needs for school: a laptop full of expensive software, a digital camera, iPod, maybe even a new sofa of futon (so mom and dad have something to sit on when they come to visit). All these modern “essentials” can start to add up.
This year alone, college students will spend a whopping $30 billion on dorm purchases according to the National Retail Federation.
One of the things the college students and their parents need to address is whether the student will need additional insurance coverage above what their parents’ policy already offers. With students moving into dorms, and even renting their first apartments or houses, it’s worth looking at all the different policies college students should be acquainted with.
So should you get coverage, and if so what kind?
Valuable Items Policy
A Valuable Items Policy is a blanket insurance policy for $10,000 to $20,000 that will cover lost, broken, and stolen items, and unlike a Personal Articles Floater, you do not have to itemize everything you are insuring.
A Valuable Items Policy is an extension of the primary residence’s homeowner’s policy, and because most college freshmen are living in dorms, their parents’ home is still considered their primary residence.
Sean Meehan, VP of Property Strategies and Design at Travelers Insurance, explains, “Freshmen in dorms have basically inexpensive things: the bed, desk, and other things belong to the school; but they also have laptops, cameras, and other things. A lot is covered under their parent’s policy, but if that laptop gets stolen, you need to make sure it is covered.”
“As they move off campus and starting renting homes,” Meehan says, “they start having more expensive stuff. They bring pots and pans, TV’s, videogames, and they start creating the primary residence as that house. That is where a tenant policy comes into play.”
A Tenant Policy is the easiest way to make sure you have coverage in a rented home or apartment. The policy does not cover the structure itself—the landlord should have separate insurance for that—but it does cover contents.
Meehan describes “contents” as what would come out of the house if you turned it upside down.
Most policies will have some liability coverage, so that if you do happen to damage the structure you will be covered—although your landlord might not be too pleased with you.
You and your student should take a look at the types of coverage you have, and what gaps you may need to fill, preferably before exams hit in a couple of weeks.
Meehan says that it’s a parent’s job to talk to their carrier about their policy and understand their risk and exposure, but it’s the student’s job to know what you have and what you would do if something goes wrong.
“Kids should be aware of how they are keeping things safe to help prevent issues and to ask questions,” Meehan explains, “The student’s responsibility falls on keeping their stuff safe and protect against claims.” It’s important for both sides to understand their responsibility and liability.