At the end of summer, parents typically pack up their college kids and head to the dorm or off-campus housing. There’s the usual checklist – towels, bedding, laptop, and laundry supplies. However, one item can be overlooked: renters insurance.
Students living in college dorms may be covered under their parents’ homeowners insurance. However, college students living in off-campus housing need to purchase renters insurance to make sure their belongings are safe. This is especially true with the coronavirus pandemic and its lack of predictability, as colleges force students to evacuated due to outbreaks or government lockdowns.
According to data from the Insurance Information Institute, the average rents insurance policy cost $180 per year, or about $15 per month. This is a relatively small amount to ensure that your belongings are covered.
What is Renters Insurance?
The landlord has insurance to cover the building and structure. However, your belongings inside the rental unit are your responsibility. On a basic level, renters insurance covers your belongings from theft, damage, and unexpected events. Renters insurance policies cover up to a certain amount, usually around $20,000 or $30,000 worth of coverage.
Yael Wissner-Levy, vice president of communications at Lemonade Insurance, tells Business Insider that renters insurance covers three instances:
- Things that happen to your stuff
- Things that you’re responsible for
- Events that force you out of your home
Basic home belongings are covered, but you may need additional coverage for specialty items like wedding rings or jewelry, cameras, artwork, bicycles, or musical instruments. Some renters insurance policies will cover a portion of your costs if you have to temporarily relocate because your apartment was damaged.
If you’re the campus DJ and have a massive vinyl collection or recording equipment, then you’ll want to mention that to your agent to make sure you have enough coverage.
Who Needs Renters Insurance?
If you’re living in a dorm, you probably, DON’T need it. College students living in dorms may be covered under their parents’ homeowners insurance policy.
Mike Gulla, at Hippo Insurance, told Business Insider that some homeowners insurance companies offer a “student living away at school” rider, where you list your student’s dorm on the policy. Homeowners with college students should call their insurance company and make sure the rider is available, and that their child’s dorm is covered.
If you’re living off campus, you’ll definitely NEED to get your own renters insurance policy, said Wissner-Levy of Lemonade.
Renters insurance covers your belongings. If you are renting with roommates, each roommate should have their own renters insurance. You should inform your insurance agent that you have roommates to find out if there is any additional coverage you may need.
Perhaps the cautionary tale from famed director and actress Issa Rae will make necessity of renters insurance clear: Shortly after college she received a fellowship in New York City. As The New York Times reports, “One night, thieves broke into her apartment and stole thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment, including her laptops, camera and all of her tapes.” If she had renters insurance, she would have had her equipment replaced. Instead, it was a total loss and she ended up leaving New York and returning home.
How Much Does Renters Insurance Cost?
The average cost of renters insurance is $15 a month. Some factors that go into determining your premium are the amount of coverage you want, where you live, if you own a pet, and your credit score. If you already have auto insurance, you may get discounts for bundling your renters and auto insurance from your provider.
Renters Insurance Covers Water Damage
Wissner-Levy noted that as a renter, you are protected from anything that suddenly causes water damage without any prior known issues like the accidental overflow of water or steam from plumbing, heating, AC or sprinkler systems. You’re also protected if your apartment sprinklers go off and soak all your belongings, or if your pipes freeze in the winter and burst.
What If You Have to Move Mid-Year?
Wissner-Levy said that if a student is evacuated mid-year due to the pandemic, you can stop and start your policy at any time, so you can move your policy to a new address as needed. Wissner-Levy explained that in order for “loss of use” coverage to kick in, the evacuation will have to be formally declared by a “civil authority” — like the governor of your state declares an emergency or signs an executive order ceasing all on-campus living — for your policy to cover your accommodations elsewhere.
She added this is “especially relevant for international students studying abroad in the US — or even just out of state students — who might not have a family support system nearby and perhaps need to rely on a hotel stay for the short term.”
Knowing that students’ housing situations can change quickly during the pandemic, you may want to ask your insurance provider about whether you can quickly transfer a policy to a new address, and how to do it.
How to Find the Best Cheap Renters Insurance
Like homeowners insurance and car insurance, renters insurance can vary a lot by state. Where you live will play a big role in your quote, and each company will consider that differently.
To be sure that you’re getting the best price for your renters insurance coverage, you’ll want to shop around and get quotes from several different insurers. Compare the quotes, and look for the most coverage types and limits. Then, look for the lowest premiums that fit your budget. (An insurance agent that works with multiple carriers can do this work for you.)
Article By: Ronda Lee
Source: Business Insider