Does My College Student Need Renters Insurance?

We are in the final days of August and some of the leaves are starting to turn colors already.  This is the time that many parents have dreaded for years- little Johnny or Susie is starting college!

So at some time this month, you may have shopped for a good laptop computer, some new bedding, towels, perhaps a nice used couch, and of course a mini-refrigerator.

But does your college student need Renter’s Insurance?

Maybe.

If your college student is living in the college dorms, then she is likely covered under your Homeowner’s policy up to certain limits.  Generally, your Homeowner’s policy will cover 10% of the policy’s personal property limits that are off-premise.  That means that if you have $150,000 of personal property coverage on your Dwelling, your college student living in the dorms will have $15,000 of coverage for their stuff.

Now if your college student is living off-campus in an apartment, house, townhouse, or fraternity house, they absolutely need a Renter’s Insurance policy.

Most landlords will require their student tenants to carry Renter’s Insurance.

Why?  For the liability coverage.  Most renter’s policies come standard with a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability protection for the owner of the policy.

Here is a shocking statement- college students do not always have the longest attention span.  And they don’t necessarily have the most experience cooking.  If your college student cooks some eggs or bacon on the stove and walks away and forgets about it and the kitchen starts on fire, the liability coverage on the Renter’s policy will kick in and protect your child from being sued from the landlords insurance company.

I just read an article about a case in Sacramento where a fraternity house had holes punched in the walls and torn up bathroom tile.  Since the landlord doesn’t know who did it, he is suing everyone listed on the lease. Only one of the fraternity members had Renter’s Insurance, which provides liability protection as well as the personal property.  The others that did not have a Renter’s policy could be paying out of pocket, whether they are responsible or not.  They will also have to pay out of pocket for an attorney to defend them.

When my wife was in college, an entire apartment building across the street from campus burned down because of candles that got knocked over during a party.  The fire had gone unnoticed for a few minutes in a bedroom and once one of the occupants of the unit realized the bedroom was on fire- they grabbed the closest liquid to them to try to douse the flames- which happened to be alcohol and caused a flare of fire to jump further across the room.  Since the kids did not have a fire extinguisher in their apartment and were under-the-influence and not responding quickly and responsibly, the fire got into the wall of an adjoining unit.  By the time the fire department got there, between fire, water, and smoke damage- 8 units were unusable.

Just think back and think of all of the stupid things that you did while in college!  It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where having liability protection could come in handy.  Especially in today’s world with cell phone cameras recording evidence accidents and liability situations that could be used in court.

People think Renter’s Insurance protects their “stuff”.  And sometimes they think that because they are college students, they don’t have enough “stuff” that would have to be replaced to make Renter’s Insurance a worthwhile expense.  However, the real reason you need to make sure your college student who is living off-campus has a renter’s policy is so they are covered for liability purposes.  Covering their “stuff” is just an extra bonus.

Lastly- another “bonus” of your child having a renter’s insurance policy is that the longer they have had continuous (no gaps) in renter’s insurance, the better the discount they are eligible to receive once they go and purchase a home and want homeowner’s insurance.  Think of it as starting to establish good credit in the insurance world.  College is the perfect time to teach your son or daughter about the world of insurance.

The good news is that Renter’s Insurance is inexpensive.  Generally, it is between $80-$150 per year.

It is a good idea to add a Renter’s Insurance policy to your shopping list before you drop off your child on campus.

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If you'd like to explore your insurance options, please visit our contact page or connect with a member of The Richards Group team at (262) 326-4750.

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