As college students are unloading all of their belongings in their new dorm for the school year and arranging things accordingly, many may need to step back and ask if those personal items are protected.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, there were nearly 24,000 thefts in 2009, and 5,000 home fires that were cooking-related on college and university campuses. Many colleges and universities state in their housing contracts that they are not responsible for any theft, or property damage made to personal items so it is important to make sure your possessions are insured.
For the most recent crime statistics for college and university campuses, see The Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool at the U.S. Department of Education website.
The following is an excerpt from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s housing contract for the 2011 to 2012 academic year, which is a common citing among other housing contracts as well:
“Loss of Property: The Student shall be responsible for the security of her/his own property. The University shall accept no responsibility for the theft, damage, or other loss of money, valuables, or personal effects of the Student in or on University property, including storage areas. Student is strongly encouraged to review their current homeowners insurance policy or purchase renter’s insurance through a private insurance company licensed by the State of Illinois.”
Although additional insurance may not be necessary, it is important to know what is covered under the current policy in case further coverage is needed. Most personal possessions are covered under parents’ homeowners insurance or renters insurance policies. However, some homeowners or renters insurance policies may limit the amount of insurance for off-premises belongings to 10 percent of the total amount of coverage for personal possessions, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)
If there is a coverage limit under the current policy, a special personal property floater may be purchased or you could purchase a stand-alone policy that is specific to college essentials such as textbooks, furniture, computers, and other electronic devices.
“Parents may want to look into acquiring stand-alone policies for desktop computers, laptops, tablets and iPads, and other electronics as they may provide coverage against accidental damage, liquid spills and other events not included under a standard homeowners or renters insurance policy,” says Loretta Worters, spokesperson for the I.I.I.
National Student Services, Inc. (NSSI), which is underwritten by Hanover Insurance Company, offers personal property insurance designed specifically for students. Coverage varies depending on the amount of coverage that is needed with the option to purchase up to $20,000 worth of coverage at deductible rates of $25, $50 or $100.
Students who live off-campus are most likely not covered under their parents’ homeowners insurance policy and need to purchase their own renters insurance. Parents should consult their insurance company to see if their homeowners or renters policy extends to off-campus living.