When college students arrive on campus, their cars are often loaded with pricey laptops, tablets, flat screen TVs and their entire wardrobe. Between the house parties and theft in dorms and libraries, it's likely any one of these items could suffer some damage. So for parents of students who just returned to college, now is a good time to review their property and casualty insurance.
The insurance company Travelers found that in a survey of 1,000 adult consumers, almost half of those who had a child start college during the past five years did not review their insurance coverage at the time.
That could be a costly mistake, especially since theft of student property is an issue on many college campuses. "I know there's so much to think about [when a child leaves for college] but insurance needs to be on that list," says Lori Conarton, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Institute of Michigan. "It's always horrible to find out you're not covered after you have a loss, so make sure you have the insurance that you need."
Here's a look at the questions you should consider when reviewing your homeowners and auto insurance policies.
Homeowners insurance. Students who live in an off-campus apartment will likely need their own renters insurance policy. But if your student lives in a dorm on campus (even while studying abroad), your homeowners or renters insurance policy may cover personal property in the event of a fire, vandalism, theft or other occurrences that otherwise would be covered at home. But a student wouldn't be covered for "typical college-type mishaps, such as accidently spilling coffee on an expensive electronic device," says Loretta Worters, a vice president of the Insurance Information Institute.
In many cases, your homeowners policy will cover only a portion of the full coverage you have at home. For instance, if your policy covers $100,000 of your personal property at home, it may only cover $10,000 of your college student's personal property in a dorm. And certain categories like electronics or jewelry may be capped around $1,000 under your homeowners policy, both at home and in a dorm, so check with your insurer.
If your student has an item worth more than $1,000, the safest option is to leave it at home. For laptops or musical instruments he or she needs at school, consider purchasing an endorsement or personal property floater - which covers property regardless of the insured's location - to provide additional coverage.
Before your student heads to campus, also take an inventory of everything leaving the house. A detailed list of personal property and what each item costs can help in case you need to file an insurance claim.
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