If you are like many families, May and June bring a critical time period when students select their housing preferences. Student move-in begins in early August at some colleges (and is rapidly approaching elsewhere). Many more students are moving into apartments or homes near campuses nationwide.
This new living environment creates many learning opportunities for students but also contain some new risks. In fact, Clery data on campus safety indicate that in 2014 alone, more than 13,000 burglaries and 2,000 fires were reported on campuses. Although students may often look to their schools to replace stolen or damaged property, the real remedy is the protection that renters insurance provides.
During this time, it’s wise to look over what insurance coverage the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) recommends for college students and families. The NAIC recommends evaluating all student insurance needs. In their 2012 Consumer Alert concerning college student insurance needs, the major recommended products are health insurance, renters insurance, auto insurance and identity theft protection. NAIC recommends taking stock of any current coverage and making sure that the student is covered at a level in accordance with family coverage needs.
One major misconception about homeowners insurance, however, is that dependent college students living away from home are automatically and always covered by their parents’ policy. While the NAIC notes that dependent students under 26 who live on campus are likely to have their belongings covered, it is worth checking your policy.
However, if your student lives off-campus, the NAIC recommends talking with your insurance agent about whether the homeowners insurance coverage extends to rental property. According to GradGuard, a speciality college insurance firm, most homeowners policies are unlikely to apply to off campus student housing.
Should the coverage not extend, the NAIC states “you might want to consider renter’s insurance to protect your student’s personal property in the event that it is damaged, destroyed or stolen.” Considering that “many students bring thousands of dollars worth of personal items — such as electronics, a computer, textbooks, clothes, furniture or a bicycle — with them to school,” it’s worth a few minutes of work to make sure your student is covered.
This recommendation for checking student insurance needs (and college renters insurance in particular) not only comes from the NAIC at the national level, but also at the state level. Our senior researcher looked into how many state regulators or state insurance departments either made such a recommendation or used the text of the NAIC Consumer Alert recommendation. Through a quick web search, he found that no fewer than 29 states and the District of Columbia suggest that college parents evaluate their student property insurance needs and supplement any gaps in coverage with a renters insurance or student property insurance product.
No college or university official wants a student’s education disrupted by accidents, thefts, fires or injuries. As a result, many schools are now providing a convenient way for students and particularly campus residents to enroll in GradGuard’s renters insurance program is a valuable step in promoting student success. Following the lead of the NAIC, College Parents of America suggests evaluating your insurance needs for your student–whatever they may be.