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Are Dorm Rooms Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
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You’ve worked hard for 18+ years to raise your kids into college-going young adults, and now they’re headed off to hit the books. Congratulations, that’s quite the accomplishment. But while you’re packing up the stereos and lava lamps, you might be wondering if the dorm room and what’s inside it will be covered by insurance.
What Kind of Coverage Does Homeowners Insurance Provide for Dorm Rooms?
Once your kids are off at school, the fact is that you won’t be able to keep a close eye on them anymore (don’t worry, they’ll be fine). Aside from troubling visions of raging parties getting out of hand, there are several common mishaps that could take place in a dorm that would benefit from insurance coverage.
Homeowners insurance can provide coverage for the following with respect to dorm rooms:
- Personal liability: Lawsuits for property damage and personal injury can happen even to college students. If your child is involved in an incident that results in another student or guest being injured in their dorm or damage to school property, your homeowners policy can help cover the financial ramifications. Coverage extends to repair costs, medical payments, and legal fees.
- Personal property: If your child’s stuff is damaged, destroyed, vandalized, or stolen from their dorm, your homeowners policy will cover them—to an extent. Your homeowners policy most likely offers a 10% extension to property stored “off-premises,” or anywhere other than your home. So if you have $100,000 of property coverage under your policy, $10,000 of that will apply to belongings in the dorm. Note: For more expensive or high-value electronics like computers and video game consoles, you might want to consider getting endorsements added to your policy.
Knowing homeowners insurance extends to your kids once they leave the nest might help put your mind at ease. That being said, there’s no insurance out there that’ll cover missed assignments.
What Students Are Eligible for Coverage Under Homeowners Insurance?
While in many cases homeowners insurance will extend part of its coverage to the policyholder’s college students, this isn’t a hard rule. Policies have varying restrictions about what students are allowed coverage under a parent’s policy.
The following factors might influence which college students are covered under homeowners insurance:
- The type of enrollment: Certain policies only cover students who are enrolled full time. The course load required to be considered a full-time student varies depending on the college or university.
- The age of the student: Many homeowners policies have age limits for students they extend coverage to. In many cases, this is 26.
- The amount of time spent at home: Certain situations could cause an insurance company to determine that your student is no longer a resident of your home, and therefore ineligible to receive an extension of your coverage. If your child did not live at home before leaving for college, or rarely makes visits home afterwards, they might be excluded from receiving coverage.
It’s important to review your specific policy before your student settles into their new life away at college, so you can be sure they’re covered prior to any mishaps.
Does Homeowners Insurance Extend to Off-Campus Apartments and Townhouses?
Unfortunately there’s no simple answer for this, because it depends on your specific policy. However, many homeowners policies stipulate that coverage is strictly for on-campus housing. Students opting for off-campus apartments or townhouses might have better luck looking into a renters insurance policy.
When Do I Need Renters Insurance?
Basically, if they’ll be living in any kind of off-campus housing that isn’t covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Since college students face the same daily risks no matter where they live, you’ll want to make sure your offspring are covered under some kind of insurance.
Renters insurance can provide coverage for the following:
- Personal liability: If your student is involved in an incident resulting in injury or property damage, this coverage will take care of the legal expenses, medical fees, or other financial ramifications.
- Personal property: Renters insurance can provide coverage for the repair or replacement of personal property in the off-campus housing that’s damaged, destroyed, or stolen. Certain natural disasters are covered, as well as other incidents. The advantage with a renters policy is that it won’t have the 10% extension limit of the personal property coverage offered by your homeowners policy.
- Temporary housing: Should your student be displaced from their apartment or townhouse due to a fire or other disaster, coverage will provide temporary housing while their dwelling is unlivable.
Renters insurance policies not only offer the advantage of offering higher coverage limits for things like personal property, but also offer cheap annual premiums.
In many cases, renters policies cost only $100 to $120 per year. Keep in mind that renters insurance does not cover the dwelling itself. The building belongs to the landlord, and should be covered under their policy.