What is dorm insurance?

College students have stuff — laptops, TVs, jewelry, shower shoes — so it makes sense to have protection.

Dorm insurance is effectively renters insurance for college students. Renters insurance primarily covers your stuff. If your personal property gets damaged or stolen, you can file a claim to have it replaced. Dorm insurance works the same way.

Why the distinction? Some vanilla renters insurance policies exclude on-campus "temporary" housing. So, if you need to insure a dorm room full of stuff, you’ll want to buy a policy that does or is specifically marketed as renters insurance for college students.

Do college students need dorm insurance?

College students have stuff — laptops, TVs, jewelry, shower shoes — so it makes sense to have protection. More incentive: Per the National Center for Education Statistics, there were 13,500 on-campus burglaries in 2014, constituting 50% of all college crime.

But you (or your child) might already have coverage. Some homeowners or renters insurance covers a parent’s child if they’re under 26 and living the dorm life. Now, sometimes, that coverage is not enough. It depends on the policy and how expensive those shower shoes actually are.

Most insurers only cover off-premises property up to 10% of a policy’s total limit. So, if a parent’s policy covers $25,000 worth of personal stuff, the college student has $2,500 worth of coverage. If you need to cover a gap, families have a few options:

  1. The college student can get a standalone dorm insurance policy.
  2. Parents can up their homeowners or renters insurance coverage limits.
  3. Parents can add a rider to their homeowners or renters insurance policy that provides extra coverage for a pricey item their kid is taking to college, like that sweet new laptop Grandma gave them for graduation.

Genius tip: Renters insurance has an overall coverage limit and limits on expensive individual items or categories of stuff, like art, electronics, and jewelry. So you might have $25,000 worth of coverage, but only $5,000 that applies to tech gadgets. Hence, the rider mentioned above.

Do students living off-campus need dorm insurance?

No — they need a renters insurance policy of their own. That’s because a parent’s homeowners or renters policy doesn’t extend to off-campus apartments. And you can’t get dorm insurance if you’re not living in a dorm.

Plus, standard issue renters insurance also covers personal liability. If someone slips on, say, dirty laundry at an off-campus adobe, the policyholder can file a claim to pay for their medical bills. Or lawsuit expenses.

How much renters insurance does a college student need?

Depends on how much stuff they’re taking to school. And how much renters or homeowners coverage their ‘rents already have. Not a great answer, we know, but you can find more about calculating how much renters insurance you need here.

How much does renters insurance for college students cost?

The good news is, renters insurance is affordable. Per 2014 data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average renter’s policy in the U.S. costs $190 a year, or just under $16 a month. Dorm insurance usually falls on the cheaper side, since college students usually have less stuff than people formally adulting. However, the price you pay varies based on:

  • your state
  • your neighborhood
  • your deductible
  • your chosen coverage limits
  • how your policy pays out: Replacement cost insurance covers the price of replacing an item. Actual cash value insurance covers the value of your stuff right now, not what it costs when you got it.

For more answers to you burning renters insurance questions, visit our FAQ.


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