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Getting Your Kids Ready for College: What Insurance Coverage Do They Need?

women packing for college .

As the parents of a college student, you probably have a lot on your mind. How will your child adjust to living away from home? Will they use that expensive meal plan or end up living off late night pizza? Will they figure out how to do laundry, or should you prepare for a giant suitcase of dirty clothes at Thanksgiving? What about the safety of your child’s belongings? Here are some helpful things you should know about your college student's personal property coverage needs:

What happens if my child’s property is stolen from their dorm room?

Unfortunately, theft is a very real risk on many college campuses. Even with heightened dorm security, there’s always a chance that a roommate or another student in the dorm could steal property. Many homeowner’s insurance policies will cover some student’s personal property in a dorm; however, coverage amounts are typically restricted to 10 percent of your coverage level. For example, if your policy offers $250,000 worth of personal property coverage, then your policy may only cover up to $25,000 worth of your child’s property in their dorm. Before they head off to college, conduct a full inventory of the items your son or daughter will be taking with them, including the model and serial numbers of their belongings in case they get stolen. While some items like bedding or toiletries are relatively inexpensive, a brand new video game system, an expensive guitar, a new speaker system, or other electronics could be an invitation for theft. Consumer Reports have some tips to help prevent theft; however, if your child doesn’t want to leave these electronics at home, talk to your insurance agent about whether you should purchase additional coverage for these products.

My child is living off-campus this year. Will they need a separate renters insurance policy?

If your child is living off-campus, you should check to see if you need to obtain a separate renters insurance policy to cover their personal items as most homeowner’s insurance policies will not extend coverage to a child living in an off-campus apartment. Use an inventory checklist to make a list of all your child’s belongings and run this list by your agent. Also, renters insurance may not only cover your child’s belongings, but also provide them with liability insurance.

If my child’s computer is stolen, will it be replaced at full-value?

Understanding the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost coverage is key. Actual cash value coverage will reimburse you the dollar amount you would expect to get if you sold the computer today, taking into account wear and tear, age and use. For a brand new computer, the reimbursement amount would be closer to full value than if your child’s computer is a year or two old, due to depreciation.

Reimbursement cost coverage will reimburse you the costs to buy a comparable new laptop. While replacement cost coverage may cost a bit more, this coverage may be worth it if you’re worried about your child’s computer being stolen on campus.

Talk to your insurance agent to learn about the specifics of your homeowners policy and how it may cover your son or daughter’s personal property while they are at school.

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