Heading off to college is an exciting time in the life of any student (and for parents too). It is the beginning of a more independent life for a young adult – a time when your child is making many of their own decisions and taking on responsibility for their daily life outside of the security and comforts of home.  Part of the transition includes equipping your student with tools and supplies they will require to successfully function over the course of each semester. Protecting these items from theft, damage or loss can be a concern.  Depending on the type of housing – dorm life or off-campus housing – you might consider options to protect this investment. This article will overview a few insurance options for your college student.


According to the National Retail Federation, cash is the number one gift for graduates (over 50%), followed by gift cards, apparel and technology.  Many students will depend on having good technology for a good portion of their daily life.  Today’s smartphones have so many day-to-day useful functions.  They are perfect for things like phone calls, camera, calendar management, notes, text and email messaging, alarm clock, reminders and more. Laptops are useful for online reading and research, note taking, digital classes and assignments, document sharing, etc. Many students also bring other high-end items with them to school such as televisions, gaming platforms, furniture, appliances, jewelry, etc.   In addition to these higher priced items, a college student may need room decor, bicycles, luggage, clothing, etc.


For students living in on-campus housing, dorm life can offer some challenges, including the security of personal belongings.  In addition to things like break-ins, a college dorm room may inadvertently be left unlocked, or clothing in a communal laundry room might be left unattended.  Colleges and Universities don’t typically cover any kind of reimbursement or replacement fees for lost or stolen or damaged items.  You can make a police report, but items are rarely recovered.  Warranties on your purchases typically only cover a manufacturer defect, so items will usually need to be replaced by either the student or their parents, at their own expense.


When looking at your insurance needs, it is important to consider the value of these items vs the cost of insurance.


What Your Homeowners Insurance Covers

While most homeowners insurance will extend a portion of your coverage to your student while they are at college, there are usually limits to what is covered, depending on your existing coverage.  This is usually about 10% of your policy limit, so if you have $50,000 of coverage in your homeowners policy, there is usually about $5,000 of coverage that can be designated to items that are not actually housed at your home.  A claim on your homeowners policy may also require a deductible that may be higher than the actual replacement value of the items that are lost, damaged or stolen, and – making a claim on your policy may result in policy cost increases later on.


What Renters Insurance Covers

Renters insurance covers personal property and liability and is most ideal for a student who is renting an apartment or house off-campus.  Renters Insurance is designed to cover personal belongings, but it also covers liability for things that a dorm user would not require (things like liability for pets, slip and fall hazards, etc.).  It differs from homeowner’s insurance in that it does not cover the structure itself.


You can configure your policy to cover either Actual Cash Value or Replacement Cost.  Actual Cash Value is configured so that insurance pays to replace items up to the policy’s limit, minus a deduction for depreciation and deductible. Replacement Cost is set up so that insurance covers the actual cost of replacing your possessions, regardless of depreciation, up to the limits on the policy minus the deductible.


If you have specific items of high value, you may need to add a rider to your policy to cover them specifically.


What Dorm Insurance Covers

If your student is living on-campus, dorm insurance may provide the best option – insuring only the things you want – your belongings.  In addition, deductibles for claims on dorm insurance policies tend to be lower, allowing for a better cost/benefit ratio.  Check with your insurance agent to see if high value specific items need to be declared separately.


Learn More from the Experts

Additional information about your insurance options to protect your student’s personal belongings while at college, we recommend you check with your local insurance agency for more in-depth and personalized information.  In the Oneonta area, we recommend Kenyon Insurance Agency at 607-397-8716. They will be able to provide you with guidance and cost estimates to provide you with options that make the most sense for you.

To learn about and our off-campus housing options for SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College students, visit our website or call us at (607) 434-5438.