College Planning: Do I Need Dorm Insurance?

Brent Pittman —  06/19/2012
dorm room laptop

Do you need insurance for the dorm?

As you prepare to pack your college freshman off to school, you’ve got a long “to do” list. Items to buy, details to iron out, lots of things to do…whew! It’s tough kicking your kids out of the house.

As you are purchasing their $1000+ laptop along with their dozens of other electronic devices (I-pads, phones, gaming systems, speakers, guitars, flat screen TV, etc) that also cost thousands of dollar, you might be thinking—Do I need some kind of insurance for this?

Do I Need Insurance?

Here are the facts. Fires and water damages occur on campus. A friend of ours told us that on their campus the sprinkler systems were tripped by a frisbee. 3 feet of water ended up in the first floor dorm rooms. Yikes!

Thefts occur in dorms. Roommates and sweet-mates steal. Doors are unlocked. Random people are in your room for study groups.

In a 2010 study 77,441 incidents of theft were reported on college campuses. Who knows how many unreported incidences there were.

The university will not be responsible for the theft or damage. The 2011-2012 On-Campus Housing Contract from The University of Connecticut states:

“The University assumes no legal obligation for damage, theft, or loss of personal property. The Resident is responsible for protecting and
securing any personal property located within any on-campus assignment and is encouraged to obtain appropriate insurance.”

So what is this appropriate insurance they mention? It’s up to you, but your child’s dorm may already be covered by your existing homeowners or renters insurance.

Check with your insurance provider and read the fine print. It is common for the policy to cover only 10% of personal items in the dorm room, but each provider will be different.

It could also be possible to get a rider or addendum to boost that amount. Again we’re only talking about living on campus, if they are off campus—they’ll need to get an additional renters insurance policy.

What About Dorm Insurance?

A few specialized companies sell dorm insurance to cover your child.

For example NSSI (not endorsed) has a policy that will cover $6,000 of Accidental Damage, Theft, Fire, Flood, Natural Disasters, Vandalism and Lightning Strikes. Deductibles range $25-$100 with decreasing annual deductibles $130-$146.

A separate renters insurance might provide more coverage and be less expensive, you’ll have to shop for yourself.

Do get some kind of coverage for worst case scenarios and peace of mind if your child will be living in a dorm. Either your own homeowners or renters policy or a separate policy.

So there, I’ve added an additional item to your summer list before you ship off your kid off to college. Enjoy your summer and send them off well.

Have you looked into insurance for your child at college? How will you insure the contents in your kids dorm? 

Photo Credit cbowns (Creative Commons)

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Brent Pittman

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.
  • RentersInsuranceNetwork

    If a student is living in a dorm they should check with their parents homeowners policies to see if they can find coverage there. If a student is living off campus they will need to purchase their own coverage. It’s important to note though if that individual has a car and bundles their coverage with the same insurer he or she can expect a 15-20% discount by having 2 or more policies with the same company. That savings alone can almost negate the entire monthly premium for the renters policy

    • Thanks for finding my article. Bundling could be an option, but I suggest shopping around for the best policy and not blindly assume the company that offers their car insurance will offer good or a fair priced homeowners/ dorm insurance product.

  • I had NEVER heard of dorm insurance. I’m a huge proponent of renters’ insurance though. Huge, huge, huge. I believed in it before, but once you actually have to file a claim….man, oh, man, is it important. And not a bad price if you can either get a policy on your dorm room or get your policy to expand to your child’s campus.

    • I take it you’ve had to file a claim. No fun indeed. My roomate and I were broken into off campus during a break, though I can’t recall if we filed a claim or not. can you believe they stole our left over tip jar full of coins?

  • Man, they’ll sell insurance on anything. I had renters insurance through college. It was only $11 per month. I found it to be cheaper, and it was easy to get through my auto insurance provider.

    • The insurance industry is creative for sure. Did you live in dorm or off campus?

  • krantcents

    I thought homeowner’s insurance covers your valuables when not at home. Perhaps, if it is cheap enough and a low or no deductible, it may be better.

    • You’ll have to check with your every policy. Your kid away at college might count as another residence.

  • If I had a kid with a bunch of valuables, I would definitely want their stuff to be insured. The dorm insurance is something I never knew existed. I didn’t have any type of insurance (besides health insurance) when I was dorming. I only dormed for a year and then moved into houses with friends for the remainder of college. Even at that time I didn’t get renter’s insurance. It would have been good to though, since most of the time there are a ton of strangers and parties that happen when you are gone. I always kept my door locked if I wasn’t home. Sad, but you gotta do it to protect your things.

    • I’d rather err on over insuring than under insuring.

  • I never got dorm insurance when I was in school. Looking back, it would have proabably been a good idea. My school flooded at least every other year, and recently, one of the student housing apartment complexes that I use to live in was struck by lightening, and 14 units sustained heavy damage. Some students lost everything they had in that fire. I’ve definitely learned that the unthinkable does happen

    • Wow! sonds like a rough school. Floods and lightening. Insurance is good for those unforeseen events.