Renters Insurance: Don’t Head Off to College Without It

When money’s tight and midterms are looming, the last thing you need to deal with is replacing all your stuff. Here’s why renters insurance is a smart call.

College students have a lot to think about: midterms, majors, your cute lab partner. (And what’s Newton’s Law again?) Renters insurance is probably pretty far down the list. Maybe you think you don’t have anything worth insuring. Granted, most students don’t own priceless antiques or original Jackson Pollocks — but once you add up your bike, your books, your computer, your smartphone, your TV, your clothes, your futon, and that rug that ties the room together, you’re looking at a pretty valuable set of goods. And, most likely, you don’t have the cash on hand to buy it all again.

There’s also an increasingly good chance you’re living off campus this year. According to a recent study by the National Multi Housing Council, college enrollments climbed more than 38 percent between 2000 and 2010, causing a nationwide shortage of student housing. This means more students than ever are renting apartments or houses instead of staying in dorms. And, unlike dorm residents, your stuff generally won’t be covered by your parents’ homeowners policy if you live off campus.

“What does renters insurance do for me?”

Renters insurance helps pay to replace your stuff if it’s stolen or damaged. Let’s say there’s a fire in your building or your roommate leaves the back door unlocked. Renters coverage can keep you from having to blow your tuition on buying all new stuff. And if you have to move out of your place temporarily while it’s being repaired, your coverage can help pay for somewhere to stay.

Your coverage also follows you wherever you go. So, if your possessions get stolen while you’re at the library, the late-night diner, or on a semester abroad, you’re still protected. Even if the items are stolen out of your car, renters coverage often foots the bill.

“It only protects my belongings?”

It’s not just about replacing your stuff. Renters coverage also helps you prepare for the unexpected. Even if you never take part in college hijinks (really? never?), life may still throw you a curveball. Along with protecting your things, renters insurance can also help cover legal and medical costs if someone gets hurt while they’re at your place or you accidentally damage someone else’s property.

Some of these coverages are optional, but fortunately, renters insurance is very affordable — typically, it could cost less per month than a large pizza.

“What if I live in a dorm?”

Most insurers don’t offer renters coverage for dorm rooms. But, there’s good news: if you’re under 26, there’s a good chance you’re covered under your parents’ homeowners policy. (Yay, parents!)

Just check that your coverage amounts are high enough now that you’re out of the house.

“My buddy and I are renting a sweet off-campus apartment, perfect for Breaking Bad marathons studying. How do I get renters coverage?”

Ask us for a renters coverage quote. Not only is renters insurance a smart move, but some landlords actually require it (be sure to check your lease).

Once you’re protected, you and your folks can rest easier, and you can turn your attention back to other things — like midterms. Or your cute lab partner.

Related posts

Wondering how much your stuff is worth? There’s an app for that.
Learn how to be prepared for a house fire.

2 Responses to “Renters Insurance: Don’t Head Off to College Without It”

  1. TammieJean
    September 19, 2013 #

    This sounds great but, what if the receipts have been thrown away and I would like to insure those items now? How do I do that and what is the depreciation on those items??

    • Ellen Hall
      September 26, 2013 #

      Hi Tammie,
      Good question. Fortunately, receipts are not required when filing a claim (though they do come in handy). Also, most insurers allow you to opt for replacement cost, rather than actual cash value. Replacement cost doesn’t take depreciation into account – you’ll receive the amount needed to replace the item at its current value. (At Esurance, renters coverage comes with replacement cost automatically.)

      The best thing to do if you don’t have receipts is to go online and find out what it would cost to replace the items in question, and then make sure your coverage amount is high enough to cover all your belongings. And whenever you buy something new that you want covered, hold onto that receipt, and take another look at your coverage to see if it’s still adequate.

      Hope this helps!

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