How does my homeowner's insurance apply to my student away at college?

For students who live in a dorm, most personal possessions are covered under their parents’ homeowners or renters insurance policies. However, some home insurance policies may limit the amount of insurance for off-premises belongings to 10 percent of the total amount of coverage for personal possessions. This means that if the parents have $70,000 worth of insurance for their belongings, only $7,000 would be applicable to possessions in the dorm. Not all insurers impose this type of limit, so you should check with your agent or insurance company representative.

Expensive computer and electronic equipment and items such as jewelry may also be subject to coverage limits under a standard homeowners policy. If the limits are too low, parents may consider buying a special personal property floater or an endorsement for these items.

Students who live off campus are likely not covered by their parents’ homeowners policy and may need to purchase their own renters insurance policy. Renters’ coverage is inexpensive generally just $125 to $200 per year for about $35,000 of personal property and $300,000 in liability coverage. If there are roommates, each one must get their own renters’ insurance, to cover possessions and liability.

Parents should consult their insurance agent or company representative to see if their homeowners or renters policy extends to off-campus living situations.

For students going off to college, the I.I.I. recommends the following:

  • Leave valuables at home if possible
    While it may be necessary to take a computer or sports equipment to campus, other expensive items, such as valuable jewelry, luxury watches or costly electronics, should be left behind or kept in a local safety deposit box.
  • Create a “dorm inventory”
    Before leaving home, students should make a detailed inventory of all the items they are taking with them, and revise it every year. Having an up-to-date inventory will help get insurance claims settled faster in the event of theft, fire or other types of disasters
  • Engrave electronics  
    Engrave electronic items such as computers, televisions and portable devices like iPods with your name or other identifying information that can help police track the stolen articles.

The I.I.I. offers the following advice to guard against theft of your personal belongings on campus:

  • Always lock your dorm room door and keep your keys with you at all times, even if you leave briefly. And, not just at night—most dorm thefts occur during the day. Insist your roommates do the same.
  • Don’t leave belongings unattended on campus. Whether you are in class, the library, the dining hall or other public areas, keep book bags, purses and laptops with you at all times. These are the primary areas where property theft occurs.
  • Buy a laptop security cable and use it. A combination lock that needs decoding may be just enough to dissuade a thief.
  • Most campus fires are cooking related so be careful about the types of hot plates or microwaves you to bring to school, and how you use them.

Also, tell your car insurer if your child is going away to school more than 100 miles away from your home and doesn’t take a car with them. There could be a discount. They still have coverage when they come home for holidays or if they borrow a car while away at school.  If they do take a car to school, insurance companies may have to adjust your premium depending on the location of the school.  Finally, be sure to let your insurer know if your child gets good grades as there may be a discount on your car insurance premium if they have a B average or better.

Source: http://www.iii.org/article/do-i-need-insurance-child-going-away-college