Do college students need renters insurance?

By Allstate

Last updated: January 1

If you're a college student, it's important to have insurance coverage for your belongings, whether you are living in a dorm or an off-campus apartment. Depending on where you live, you may find that your personal property is covered by your parents' insurance, while in other cases you may need to purchase your own renters insurance policy.

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Do I need renters insurance if I live in a college dorm?

You'll want to check with your insurance provider to make sure, but the National Association of Insurance Commissioners says college students may be partially covered by their parent or guardian's policies.

It's a good idea to know the policy's coverage limits for personal property. The Insurance Information Institute (III) says some policies limit coverage for belongings while they are away from the policyholder's home. This is often referred to as "off-premises coverage." For example, if your parents' policy provides $100,000 worth of coverage for belongings, but limits that coverage to 10 percent for items that are off-premises, it may provide up to $10,000 for items away from their home, including belongings you bring to school.

It's also important to note that certain items, such as a musical instrument or expensive jewelry, may have coverage limits. If the policy's limits aren't enough to cover the items you'll be bringing to school, your parents may be able to add scheduled personal property coverage to their homeowners or renters insurance policy to help cover certain valuable possessions.

Do I need renters insurance if I live off campus?

If you'll be living in off-campus housing, the III cautions that your parents' insurance will probably not extend to the belongings you bring with you (although you'll want to check with your agent to be certain). You may want to buy your own renters insurance policy to help pay to replace or repair your belongings if they are stolen or damaged by a covered risk. A covered risk, often described as a "peril" in insurance terms, is a cause of damage that is covered by your insurance policy. Read your policy to learn what risks it may cover, such as theft or fire.

A renters insurance policy also includes liability coverage, which may help prevent you from paying out of pocket if you are found legally responsible for someone else's injuries or accidental damage to their property (including your landlord's).

The III recommends asking your agent about coverage limits and whether you may benefit from additional coverage for certain valuables.

Hopefully you and your stuff stay safe and sound while you're running to and from classes, but it may be a good idea to keep a home inventory — it can be a big help if you ever need to file a claim.