You’re heading for college, with your parents’ car packed full of possessions. Next stop, your own independent place for the new semester. You might be renting a house, an apartment or accommodation on campus.
Whatever it is, there’s one big question – how do I protect my stuff? Who’s responsible – me, the landlord, the college, my parents? That’s when the word insurance comes up. Suddenly you’re the one in charge and you need to find a way to protect your stuff.
You might be asking, why do I need insurance? College is supposed to be safe. Well, here are some figures we think you need to be aware of.
There are around 69,500 property crimes on campus every year, according to the FBI. Fires in student accommodation on campus numbered 1926 in 2015 according to Clery Act Data and 2017 survey of student housing officers reported that 98 percent of colleges don’t replace stolen or damaged student property.
So, it looks like insurance might be pretty important. It could save you a lot of money if something goes wrong. Next question, what type of insurance do I need and what should I look out for?
The good news is that there is a type of policy called renters’ insurance and there are products specially for students. But, as you would expect, not all policies are the same and your needs might be different from other students. So, here’s a handy guide to the important things you need to consider before you take out a renters’ insurance policy.
Check what your landlord covers
Your landlord is only responsible for the building. It doesn’t matter if you’re renting from a private landlord or the college; they take out insurance to cover the cost of any repairs to the building and its fittings, inside or out. That could cover showers, radiators, windows and appliances like boilers and cookers. And if they provide furniture, they should cover that too.
But, a word of caution, if you cause any damage to the building, the fittings or the furniture, then the repair costs are probably heading your way.
Before you sign a lease agreement, ask your landlord to confirm in writing that they are responsible for those things listed above, and they have their own insurance in place to cover the cost of repairs.
When you look at possible policies, make sure it includes cover for any accidental damage you might cause to the landlord’s property.
Find out what your policy will cover
Will it cover all of your belongings, including your expensive laptop you bought just for college? First thing is to make a list of everything you’ve brought with you and update it with new stuff you plan to buy while you’re there, like new course books.
You’ll also need to put a realistic price on everything you own or are planning to buy. Think of the current price to replace it, even if it’s a battered old guitar or a rusting bike. There’s plenty of information online to check prices.
When you’ve got your list and your prices together, you’re probably amazed at your net worth, but that’s the figure you need to ask the insurer to cover. The insurer might also ask you to list any items above a certain value. Keep that list in a safe place – you never know when you might need it.
Does the policy also give you liability protection if somebody gets injured while they’re in your rented property? Your policy should cover their medical bills if you are somehow responsible for the accident.
You should also include cover for living expenses in case you have to move out if the landlord needs to do some major repairs to the property. Even a few days in a hotel could eat up a lot of dollars.
Check the exclusions in the policy
Most insurers set out factors or circumstances that mean they won’t be liable to pay out on the policy. The most likely ones are Acts of God, riots, natural disasters and extreme weather.
But, if you live in an area that is liable to flooding, for example, you may find that any cover you can get is limited. Insurers might also add exclusions if you live in a shared building where other people might be able to access your property.
Check the exclusions carefully to make sure you don’t get any nasty surprises when you need to make a claim.
Look carefully at policy prices
Renters insurance isn’t all that expensive. Many plans will cost just $15 to $30 per month. The figure you pay will depend on a number of factors – where you live and what you want to cover.
Your zip code is one of the big deciding factors. Insurers have masses of data on different parts of the country, the number of claims from each area and risk factors they apply. So don’t be surprised if your quote is much higher than the figures a friend pays at a college in a different part of the country.
The figure will also vary with the value of the rental property and the other types of cover included in the policy.
GradGuard makes it simple and straightforward for students to protect their stuff. With student-focused features, like a low-cost deductible and no credit check, we’re available nationwide exclusively for college students.