insurance

College must-have: student insurance

Property insurance

No matter where your college-bound student ends up living, he or she definitely needs insurance to cover theft and damage of personal property, such as a laptop, stereo and bicycle. In a rental, the landlord's insurance doesn't cover their items if stolen or damaged due to fire, theft or other circumstances.

If you have homeowners insurance, your child's personal property is covered if she lives in a dormitory and usually covered if he or she lives off campus, says Bill Wilson, associate vice president of education and research for the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. Usually most homeowners insurance policies will allot 10 percent of personal property to a student not living at home.

"So if you have a $100,000 policy, your kid will have $10,000 of coverage," Wilson says. But he advises students to make a list of possessions and estimate their value. "Add up the Xbox, laptop, TV, bicycle and clothes, and it could be more than you think."

Some student insurance may not cover college kids living by themselves off campus. Check your policy or contact your agent to see if the kids are covered, or consider renters insurance. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, premiums average from $15 to $30 per month, depending on rental location and size as well as the policyholder's possessions. Like a homeowners policy, you can choose between personal property and liability coverage, and cash value or replacement cost coverage.

If your kid is bringing a car to campus, it will be covered under your auto insurance. Insurers still consider college students as household residents just living away from home temporarily. But check if the car's new location will change coverage, Wilson says.

"If your daughter is moving from a rural area to downtown or is parked on the street instead of (in) a garage, your premiums may be adjusted," Wilson says.

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