Does Your Homeowners Insurance Policy Cover Your College Student?

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For many parents, August marks the first time they will be sending their child off to college. While this is undoubtedly an exciting moment for teens, parents are usually left biting their nails as they worry whether their college student will be safe in their new environment.

One way parents are able to secure their children at home is by purchasing homeowners insurance policies that financially protect both shelter and personal property. How can parents ensure they give their children the same protection while away at school?

What Homeowners Insurance Does and Doesn’t Cover

Homeowners insurance undoubtedly serves as a safety net for most homeowners who want to ensure their dwellings are fully protected from both manmade and natural threats. But despite being quite comprehensive, homeowners insurance does not cover all circumstances.

Homeowners Insurance Does Cover

  • Structure (home), including attachments like a garage
  • Lawn and landscaping
  • Personal possessions, including items borrowed and kept in the house
  • Owned vacant land

Homeowners Insurance Doesn’t Cover

  • Water-related damage, including floods, mudslides and sewer-related damage (this is covered by flood insurance policies)
  • Earthquakes and landslides
  • Dog bites
  • Identity theft
  • Recreation equipment like swimming pools and trampolines

Homeowners Insurance Sometimes Covers

  • Mold and mildew
  • Jewelry and firearms
  • Computers and electronics
  • Home upgrades (electrical, plumbing, other build code-related items)

Items that are sometimes covered by homeowners insurance usually require additional coverage known as a rider, which comes at a higher cost.

Getting Your College Student the Right Insurance Protection

As you prepare to send your college students to a new home, it’s only natural to want to provide them with the same protections they’ve always had. Here are a couple of options to consider when choosing how to insure your teen’s belongings:

Use Your Homeowners Insurance

If your teen will be resident in a dorm this year, there’s a good chance that your own homeowners insurance policy will cover the dorm room and his or her belongings. Check with your insurer for details and keep in mind that policy premiums and deductible will likely increase considerably by covering this additional dwelling.

Purchase Dorm Property Insurance

Some colleges and universities offer dorm property insurance that covers students’ belongings. The coverage usually protects students against theft, damage and other causes of loss to personal property that may occur while at school, home or even when studying abroad.

Dorm coverage may actually be more comprehensive than a standard homeowners insurance policy, since many policies include floods, earthquakes, water damage and other damages often restricted by insurance companies.

Buy Renters Insurance

If your student is living off-campus this year, you may be able to extend your homeowners insurance to their apartment. If this isn’t possible, or if it is simply too expensive, consider purchasing a renters insurance policy.

Renters insurance typically offers the same personal belonging protection as homeowners insurance, but at a lower cost. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 2010 homeowners insurance premiums averaged $909, while premiums for renters insurance averaged $185 annually.

Before purchasing a renters insurance policy, be sure to check with your teen’s landlord to find out whether a policy is already in place. If the dwelling is already insured, you may be able to save money on coverage altogether.

Photo: Sterling College