Insurance Coverage for Your College Student

Find out whether your homeowner's policy will cover your child's stuff while he is at school and what to do about car insurance while he's gone.

My son is going away to college this fall. Does our homeowners insurance cover his stuff while he’s at school? And what should we do about car insurance?

Your homeowners insurance will generally cover him if he’s living in a dorm. He’ll have the same liability limits as if he were in your home, but the coverage for his belongings may be limited to 10% of your total possessions coverage (the rules vary by insurer). Many homeowners insurance policies cover possessions up to 70% of the home-coverage limits -- so if you have a $200,000 homeowners insurance 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. Add up the value of your son’s stuff and make sure you have enough coverage -- you may want to buy some extra coverage if he has an expensive computer system and other valuable electronics.

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.