Outside of providing coverage for your house and belongings, there’s a less talked-about facet of home insurance: student coverage. Most people are under the impression that home insurance is limited to the main household, but that’s not strictly true. Home insurance can be used to cover your college or university students’ dorm and belongings. Your child is still under your care and part of your household, and as part of your household, your insurance may extend to them.
As with any type of financial protection, learning all you can about home insurance is important. Student belongings are covered in most normal circumstances, but there are exceptions. Read on to learn how home insurance can provide college and university students coverage, including alternatives for when it may fall short.
College students and home insurance: the basics
Generally, your home insurance can extend up to 10% of your coverage limit to your college or university-going child – or more if you increase your policy’s limits or purchase endorsements, which are amendments that override your contract terms.
Your home insurance can cover your child’s belongings in two ways:
- Personal property coverage. This helps cover the cost of repairing or replacing your child’s belongings – such as laptops or furniture – if they happen to be stolen or damaged by a covered peril.
- Personal liability coverage. If your child is found to be at fault for injuring another person or damaging their property, your home insurance can provide liability coverage.
For example, let’s say your child is living on campus in a dorm, and the dorm’s sprinkler system malfunctions and causes a flood. Your home insurance can extend up to 10% of your policy limit to cover the cost of replacing their belongings, or possibly more if you have raised your policy limits. Using the standard 10%, you can expect your child to receive personal property coverage of up to $25,000 if your policy limit is set at $250,000. Since your home insurance only offers 10% of your coverage limit, it may be worthwhile for your child to purchase renter’s insurance.
When does home insurance cover college students?
Some conditions need to be met in order to apply your home insurance to student belongings, such as:
- There’s an age limit. In order to receive the benefit of their parents’ home insurance, a student must be under the age of 24. Beyond that age, they’re expected to set up their own renter’s insurance.
- The student must be studying full-time. Unfortunately, your home insurance can’t be extended to cover your child’s belongings if they’re not studying full-time. Since part-time students typically don’t live on campus, their parents’ home insurance typically can’t cover them. In this case, there’s an expectation that your child would be working as well as studying, and they would be able to purchase renter’s insurance to provide a financial safety net for their household.
- The student must live on campus. Technically, if your child is paying rent for a place outside of campus, they’re considered to be acting as an adult and would be expected to get renter’s insurance. A student must live on campus to be covered by their parents’ home insurance.
Here are some pros and cons of using your home insurance on student belongings:
- It offers 10% of your coverage, provided the student lives on campus full-time.
- There’s no extra cost of purchasing insurance.
- It can be used during the summer months as well.
- There are no claims on items that cost less than your deductible.
- If you make claims, your premiums may go up.
- Your insurance score may be negatively affected by your child’s claims.
- Renter’s insurance is a significantly cheaper option at approximately $187 a year.
Special circumstances: studying abroad and Greek life
Many students choose to conduct their studies abroad to immerse themselves in a new culture or attend the best college or university for their chosen vocation. When it comes to getting coverage through their parents’ home insurance, students studying abroad may find it difficult to make a claim. Generally, your child’s chosen school has to be located within the same country as your home insurance provider.
Most universities encourage their students to get set up with some insurance, whether it’s health, renter’s, or travel insurance. Wherever your child wishes to attend school, you can look at renter’s or dorm insurance to protect their belongings, as your home insurance won’t cover them. That said, home insurance providers that operate internationally may still be able to provide coverage for your child’s household. In any case, it’s wise to ask about their specific policies.
If your child lives in a fraternity or sorority house, their belongings may fall under the insurance policy that covers those premises. Still, it may be a good idea for them to apply for renter’s insurance whether they’re living the Greek life or not. Fraternities and sororities must have their own insurance, which may extend to the items owned by their in-house members.
When home insurance falls short: considerations and alternatives
Unfortunately, your home insurance isn’t infallible when it comes to covering your child’s belongings. Unless they fit into the criteria listed above, they may not be covered, or they may not be covered enough.
Here are some alternatives if your home insurance doesn’t cut it:
- Dorm insurance. If your child is living in a dorm, they can purchase dorm insurance. This is a form of personal property insurance, and it’s generally cheaper – as low as $10 a month because it only covers personal property. Many colleges and universities offer built-in dorm insurance that may automatically cover your child’s belongings.
- Renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance is exactly like home insurance in that they both offer personal property coverage and personal liability coverage. The only difference is that it’s designed for people who rent rather than own their home. Even if your child is studying full time and lives in a dorm, getting renter’s insurance is still worth consideration since your home insurance generally only extends 10% of your coverage limit. Renter’s insurance is usually considerably cheaper than home insurance, so it may be possible for a student to afford it.
- Roommates. If your child is living off-campus with a roommate who already has renter’s insurance in place, your child can possibly be put on that person’s renter’s insurance and get coverage that way. In this case, they would likely split the monthly premiums and still get full coverage.
How to make a claim for your college student
Before you get to the point of having to make a claim for your college student, the first thing you need to do is make sure your insurance provider knows your child is a student and where they’re living. After that, the claims process is basically the same as how you would go about making a claim for yourself.
Here are the steps to making a claim on your home insurance:
- Call the police. If burglary or vandalism has been committed, your policy provider will need a police report.
- Contact your provider. Call your insurance provider as soon as possible after the incident, whether it’s a crime or a disaster. They’ll assign an insurance adjuster and a claim number to your case. You’ll need to provide a description of the property involved, including details about the event.
- Photograph the damage. Take photos and videos of the damage as proof to support your claim. If the claim is related to a theft, document everything that’s missing.
- Cooperate with your provider. Follow whatever instructions the insurance adjuster gives you. This can make the process go smoother.
- Hire a public adjuster. A public adjuster works directly for you instead of for the insurance company. They’ll be able to assess whether there was pre-existing damage, as well as the extent of the damage. Public adjusters can be useful if you don’t agree with the insurance adjuster’s findings.
Whether you make a claim on your home insurance or your child does, you’ll still be responsible for paying the deductible. The deductible is the amount of money you’re expected to pay toward covering the damages. This amount will then be deducted from the total amount of coverage your provider offers. However, you may not always have to pay a deductible – your insurance provider may have claimable perils that don’t require a deductible. It’s a good idea to go over your coverage to find out exactly where deductibles come into play.
Before your child goes off to university or college, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with how your home insurance can be applied to their belongings. Take some time to determine what your policy will cover, including how much of your total coverage you can expect to go toward your child’s claim. If necessary, consider additional coverage if your home insurance falls short. If your child chooses to live on campus, help take care of them by making sure they’re covered if something goes wrong.