Our Personal Insurance expert, Kristy, has been getting calls all month on insurance coverage questions from concerned parents who are sending their kids off to college in the next week or so. Their questions pertain mainly to the amount of coverage available under their policy for their children that are going to be living in a dorm. The answer is this: Most personal possessions are covered under the parents’ homeowners or renters’ insurance policies; however, some home insurance policies may limit the amount of insurance for off-premises belongings to 10 percent of the total amount of coverage for personal possessions. This means that if the parents have $70,000 worth of insurance for their belongings, only $7,000 would be applicable to possessions of their children in the dorm. Not all insurers impose this type of limit, so you should check with your agent or insurance company representative on your particular coverage.
Another important tip from Kristy is expensive computer and electronic equipment and items such as jewelry may also be subject to coverage limits under a standard homeowner’s policy. If the limits are too low, Kristy advises parents to consider buying a special personal property floater or an endorsement for these items.
Students and/or their parents may also want to consider purchasing a stand-alone policy specifically designed for students living away at college. This can be an economical way to provide additional insurance coverage for a variety of disasters.
Students who live off campus are likely not covered by their parents’ homeowners’ policy and may need to purchase their own renters insurance policy. Parents should consult Kristy, their insurance agent, or company representative to see if their homeowners or renters policy extends to off-campus living situations.
For students going off to college, Kristy recommends the following:
- Leave valuables at home if possible
While it may be necessary to take a computer or sports equipment to campus, other expensive items, such as valuable jewelry, luxury watches or costly electronics, should be left behind or kept in a local safety deposit box.
- Create a “dorm inventory”
Before leaving home, students should make a detailed inventory of all the items they are taking with them, and revise it every year. Having an up-to-date inventory will help get insurance claims settled faster in the event of theft, fire or other types of disasters. For an easy way to put together an inventory, use the I.I.I.’s free Home Inventory Software.
- Engrave electronics
Engrave electronic items such as computers, televisions and portable devices like iPods with your child’s name or other identifying information that can help police track the stolen articles.
She also offers the following advice to guard against theft of your child’s personal belongings on campus:
- Always lock your dorm room door and keep your keys with you at all times, even if you leave briefly. And, not just at night—most dorm thefts occur during the day. Insist roommates to do the same.
- Don’t leave belongings unattended on campus. Whether you are in class, the library, the dining hall or other public areas, keep book bags, purses and laptops with you at all times. These are the primary areas where property theft occurs.
- Buy a laptop security cable and use it. A combination lock that needs decoding may be just enough to dissuade a thief.
- Most campus fires are cooking related so be careful about the types of hot plates or microwaves you to bring to school, and how you use them.
Information about the Author: Kristy started her career as an Insurance agent for USAA and moved into the Independent Insurance market. She has extensive knowledge of the Insurance marketplace and has been working with High Net Worth Personal Lines clients for several years. Kristy’s strength is in understanding the unique needs of her clients and ensuring that they are able to maintain the highest quality coverage. She does this by delivering exceptional products and services to business owners and individuals around the world. She has earned the designation Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) and Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR). Kristy is excited to represent our Personal Lines Department at Marsh & McLennan Agency, known locally as Insurance Associates and is based in our Fairfax Office.