Does home insurance go to college?

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Late August takes on a bittersweet feel for parents of college-bound students as the dog days of summer wind down and their fingers begin to tingle in anticipation of once again taking control of the TV remote. Of course you’ll miss the kids, but at least you’ll have your favorite fall programs to console you!

Thanks to the retail-generated, back-to-school tax holidays in many states, today’s dorm rats return to campus each late-summer and fall with an ever-growing armada of laptops, tablets, smartphones, HDTVs, wearables, printers and domestic appliances.

According to Frontline Insurance, the average college student leaves home with $10,000 in belongings. Little wonder that theft is one of the most widely reported crimes on college campuses, with an estimated 40,000 incidents a year.

Knowing if parents’ policy extends to dorm

Will your home insurance cover your college student’s valuables in the event of theft or damage?

Typically, yes. Most home policies will cover students’ possessions while they’re away at college, provided you still consider the kids members of your household and they reside on campus.

That said, it’s worth a call to your insurance agent to confirm coverage. To make that determination or, failing that, steer you toward a different insurance option, your agent may ask a few questions, including:

  • Do you pay your child’s college tuition?
  • Will you be providing additional financial support?
  • Do you plan to claim your student on your tax return?
  • Do you provide their health insurance?
  • Will your student be returning home during college breaks?

Off-campus housing is different

Some home policies limit coverage on high-ticket items such as electronics and bicycles. Depending on the valuables involved, your agent may suggest additional coverage.

Note, however, that if your college student plans to reside off-campus in a rental house or apartment, chances are slim that your homeowners policy will provide coverage. In these cases, the kids will need to look into renters insurance, which tends to be the affordable option to cover both their physical belongings and personal liability they’ll be missing in your policy.

Here’s a last piece of advice for parents of dorm-dwellers: When you break out the camera to capture those moving-off-to-college memories, take a few minutes to snap photos or videos — including serial numbers — of those valuable computers and electronics you’ll be insuring from a distance.

An inventory and supporting documentation will not only smooth the claims process should any of the items go missing, but they also can prompt a discussion with your student about insurance coverage and the importance of taking safety precautions.

Here’s the 411 on auto insurance for college students.

Follow me on Twitter: @omnisaurus

Veteran contributing editor Jay MacDonald is co-author of “Future Millionaires’ Guidebook.”