Ask Kim


Insuring Stuff at College

Kimberly Lankford

If your student lives in a dorm on campus, your homeowners insurance usually kicks in to cover liability and theft -- but you may need extra coverage.



My daughter will be starting college in the fall. Will her electronics and other possessions be covered by my homeowners insurance?

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Your daughter’s possessions should be covered by your homeowners insurance if she lives in a dorm on campus. The liability limits will be the same as they are on your homeowners policy, but the possession limits will be lower: Some policies provide only 10% of your possessions coverage when the items are not in your own home.

Homeowners policies typically cover possessions at 70% of the total home-coverage limits, so if you have a $200,000 policy, you’d have up to $140,000 in coverage for your possessions in your home and up to $14,000 in coverage for items that are off-premises, such as in a dorm room. Note that most homeowners policies cover liability and theft plus damage to any possessions from named perils, such as storms or fires, but not "accidental damage," such as from dropping or spilling.

If this isn’t enough to cover all of the computer equipment and other items your daughter takes with her, you may be able to add extra coverage for specific electronics or other pricey items. You can buy coverage that provides higher limits, has no deductible and covers accidental damage for about $50 to $100 per year, says Spencer Houldin, an independent insurance agent in Washington Depot, Conn.

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Off-campus apartments may not be covered by your home insurance, but you can buy a low-cost renters policy to cover your daughter’s stuff and provide liability coverage in case someone gets hurt in her apartment. A basic renters policy with $15,000 of property coverage and $500,000 of liability coverage generally costs $125 to $150 per year, says Houldin. You can add special coverage for electronics to cover accidental damage with no deductible. Unrelated roommates may need separate policies.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.



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