Do College Students Need Renters Insurance?

If You’re a College Student, You May Want to Consider Renters Insurance

The “broke college student” is a cultural cliche, but the truth is that even if you have no obvious financial assets, your possessions are more valuable than you realize. If a thief stole your laptop, smartphone and iPad from your apartment—items you likely need just to succeed in your classes—do you have cash-on-hand to replace them? Then there are the “luxury” items—your TV, expensive camera, projector, sporting equipment, instruments, stereos, name-brand clothes, etc. Wouldn’t you want to replace these items if they were ruined by water or lost to a fire?

No one can predict catastrophes, and in the case of a fire or tree through your roof, your landlord isn’t legally responsible to cover damage to your possessions. Nor will your landlord’s homeowner’s policy cover your stuff.

Renters insurance is an affordable safety net, that can help college students be prepared in the worst case scenario. And Boulder—home to the largest university in Colorado—has some of the most affordable renters insurance rates in the state

What does renters insurance cover?

Different policies offer different levels of coverage, but renters insurance will reimburse you for personal losses in the instance of theft, fire and other natural disasters (except flooding), or for loss caused by structural issues, such as water damage from a leak or busted pipe. And if your unit is too damaged for you to stay there, insurance covers temporary housing and meals.

In some cases, your lease may require you to carry renters insurance.

Liability coverage is an important aspect of renters insurance that people often overlook. If you accidentally injure someone or someone is injured in your rental, your renters insurance will cover a claim or lawsuit brought against you. This means if your dog bites a guest or someone falls off your porch and breaks a leg, renters insurance may cover their medical expenses, rather than you having to making payments from your own pocket. And if they sue you, renters insurance will help with your legal bills.

To this end, renters insurance may also covers the property of others that may be damaged in your space, and in some cases, it may cover damage that you accidentally cause in someone else’s space.

Additionally, renters insurance covers incidents such as vandalism. So if your patio furniture is intentionally damaged by someone who is angry with you, or by random neighborhood punks, you can file a claim.

As a huge additional benefit, renters insurance will also cover your possessions when they’re not in your rental unit. If your laptop is stolen from your car or your suitcase—with all your important gear—is stolen on vacation, your policy will help you purchase replacement items.

Do I need renters insurance if I live on-campus?

If you live in a dorm and are under 26, your parents’ homeowner or rental policy likely covers you, but it will only cover your losses up to 10-percent of the total policy coverage. So if your $9,000 bike and $2,000 computer are stolen, and your parents’ policy only covers up to $50,000 in damages, you would still be out $6,000—plus the deductible, which is likely much higher on a full homeowners policy than a renters policy.

Dorm policies are a great option, if you’d like to protect yourself more fully than your parents’ policy will. Often dorm insurance is very affordable (less than $200 a year) and may have a deductible as low as $25.

Do I need renters insurance if I live off-campus?

If you live off-campus, your parents’ policy won’t cover you at all, but you can get your own insurance for about $15-20 a month. You may also be able to get a joint policy with your housemates.

In some cases, your lease may require you to carry renters insurance. Even if your landlord doesn’t require it, carrying renters insurance may make you a more attractive potential tenant—and in a tight rental market such as Denver, every advantage is important in procuring a great living space.

The bottom line is that, if you’re a college student, renters insurance is an inexpensive and excellent means of safeguarding against a potential disaster that could incapacitate you financially, at the very beginning of your attempt at “adulting” and financial independence. If you’re interested in learning more, a local agent will be happy to go over your coverage options.