As your new or returning college student heads back to school for their next semester you will have a lot on your mind. Moving all their furniture and belongings back to campus, making sure tuition is paid in time, setting up meal plans, and shopping for class books and school supplies. If your student is moving into an apartment off campus then one thing that you should not overlook is your insurance. While your own home insurance policy may extend some coverage for your student’s school housing, this is not always included and can be very limited if it is present at all.
Home policies may cover some of the student’s property while he or she is away at school, but they are not suited to handle all of their insurance needs for several reasons. The first is that a home policy generally has a high deductible which can lead to very limited coverage for inexpensive belongings like TVs, computers, and furniture. If you have a $500 deductible on your home policy with a coverage extension, then a $1,000 laptop that is stolen from your son or daughter’s apartment would only be covered by half. Additionally, filing small claims like these on your main homeowners policy can reduce your insurability and increase your cost of insurance in the future.
Instead, it would be beneficial to buy a separate rental policy for your student. These policies are not very expensive for students and can have a much lower deductible which is more suited to the less expensive items in their apartments. Most of us do not think about theft while our kids are away, but the problem is more prevalent than you may realize. At The University of Georgia, for instance, over $87,000 in property was stolen from primarily student housing during the 2012 and 2013 spring break weeks. Thieves know when students are away for breaks and use the opportunity for break-ins.
These policies also include liability coverage; this protects you from legal and medical fees if a guest is injured at the apartment or a water leak, fire, etc. originating in your unit damages adjacent ones. The combination of covering your child’s belongings and liability exposure when they are away at college is invaluable and cannot be fully achieved without a proper renter’s insurance policy.
A unique situation like a student away at college requires unique and specific coverage to keep them from financial losses. Make sure that rental insurance is on your back-to-school checklist this summer, it could be the most important aspect of yours and your child’s plans to return to campus.
Here is a checklist for reducing your student’s risk of theft when they are back at school. How many of these do you use?
- Make sure that any doors have keyed deadbolts. Robbers can break a window and turn the latch easily if there are no keys required. Even if you are up off the bottom floor, be sure that all exterior doors are secure. Window locks are also a basic thing to check for when looking for places to live.
- Set some of your lights on timers. Thieves may watch your place for a day or two before attempting a break-in. If your lights are turning on and off during the day, they will likely move on to a unit with no visible activity instead.
- Take your TV, computer, game consoles, and any expensive jewelry home during long breaks. These are the most commonly stolen items since they are easy to grab and resell. The extra hassle may ensure that your belongings don’t become someone else’s while you are enjoying the holidays or lounging on the beach.
- Draw your blinds when you are gone and at night. Not allowing a thief to window shop before hand can deter them from attempting to steal your stuff. If they cannot look inside they will not know if there is an alarm system or anything worth stealing.
- Stop mail and magazine deliveries while you are gone. The post office will hold your mail for short periods of time, like spring break week, which will keep mail from building up in your mail box. Alternatively, you can have a friend collect your mail for you while you are gone. Having a mailbox full of a week’s worth of magazines, letters, and bills is a dead giveaway that no one is home.
- Lastly, get insured! It may be beating a dead horse, but all of these practices will not fully deter criminals, so make sure your belongings are covered in a rental policy or an extension to your home policy (though we would recommend the first option). The addition of liability coverage is essential as well, so make sure you look into your policy options.