Renters insurance for college students: Do you need it?

Renters insurance for college students: Do you need it?

Renters insurance covers your stuff, so it stands to reason students packing up laptops, adjustable bed risers, fur chairs and driftwood terrariums for college might wonder if they need some. Or not. Only 41% of actual renters have renters insurance, so, yeah, maybe it’s silly to think coverage is on your dorm-life checklist. Plus, truth to be told, you might not need any. A parent’s homeowners or renters insurance usually provides some coverage if you’re a full-time student, under 26 and living in a dorm or other on-campus housing. But if you’re over 26, living off-campus or packing ombre throw rugs in Bottega Veneta luggage, then, yes, renters insurance is in order.

I’m living in a dorm. Should I get renters insurance?

Maybe. If your parents have renters or homeowners insurance, have them call their agent to see if you’re covered — and, if so, what restrictions apply. Per the Insurance Information Institute, some homeowners or renters insurance policies limit coverage for items in your dorm to 10% of the total coverage for belongings.

Plus, expensive items, like jewelry or electronics, are usually subject to individual coverage limits. So if your parents’ policy is limited, your stuff is expensive—or both—extra coverage is probably necessary. That extra coverage could simply involve your parents adding a rider for big-ticket items or purchasing a standalone policy designed specifically for people living on campus (aka dorm insurance).

One big thing to keep in mind: If you’re set to live in a dorm, but looking to buy renters insurance on your own, be sure to confirm a potential policy covers on-campus "temporary" housing. Not all do.

I’m living off-campus. Should I get renters insurance?

Yes — and here’s why. First off, it’s highly unlikely your parents’ renters insurance or homeowners insurance covers off-campus housing. (They can still call their agent and ask.) Moreover, renters insurance doesn’t just cover your stuff.

Second, it covers your stuff while it’s out in the world, not just while it’s home. You’re going to be lugging your laptop to class. If it gets dropped, stolen or otherwise damaged, renters insurance will have you covered.

Third, it also covers certain personal liabilities. So, say, someone hurts themselves during a rager study session at your place. A solid renters insurance policy will pay for their medical bills or your legal expenses, should that person sue. Plus, renters insurance covers damages done accidentally to someone else’s apartment. (Example: You blow a hole in a wall you share with a neighbor while nuking leftovers in tin foil. Bonus tip: Don’t put tin foil in a microwave.)

In other words, even if you don’t care about your stuff or have very little, that liability coverage is important. The good news is, renters insurance is affordable — even on a work/study salary. In most states, a basic policy costs under than $20 a month. (PolicyGenius can help you find the right renters insurance policy here.)

And, if you want some more information about how to insure your stuff, we’ve got the answers to 20 questions about renters insurance you were too embarrassed to ask, too.

Image: sturti