INSURANCE INFORMATION INSTITUTE
New York Press Office: (212) 346-5500; firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW YORK, August 24, 2010 - As college students and their parents begin planning for the new academic year, “check insurance” should be on their “to do” lists, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). For students who live in an on-campus dormitory, most of their personal possessions are covered under either their parents’ homeowners or renters insurance policy, although the issue gets more complicated if the student resides off-campus or owns a very expensive computer or sophisticated electronic equipment.
College students haul off to school a costly array of personal possessions. In addition to clothing, furniture and books, many also will bring expensive personal electronics and sports equipment. In fact, students and their families are expected to spend over $33 billion on back-to-school supplies this year, according to the National Retail Federation.
Theft is a major concern on college campuses. The U.S. Department of Education reports that there were about 31,851 campus burglaries in 2008. And the National Fire Protection Association reported that there 6,000 on-campus fires in 2008. Most of the fires are cooking related, so students should be careful about the types of hot plates and microwaves they bring to school. In addition, portable heaters and lighting products such as halogen lamps can also pose a fire risk, as well overloading electrical outlets.
Some homeowners insurance policies may limit the amount of coverage for a college student’s off-premises belongings to 10 percent of the total amount of a policy’s coverage for personal possessions. This means that if the parents have $70,000 worth of insurance for the belongings in the family’s primary residence, only $7,000 would be applicable to possessions in their youngster’s dorm room. Not all insurers impose this type of limit, so people should check with their agent of company representative about a specific policy.
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. This will not only provide a higher amount of insurance, it will also provide broader coverage. Most floaters, for instance, also include additional coverage for “mysterious disappearance.”
Students who live off campus may not be covered by their parents' homeowners policy and may need to purchase their own renters insurance. 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:
In the event that a student is planning to have a car on campus, he or she should choose a safe, reliable vehicle and do some research to find the best auto insurance rate. The first stop should be the family’s own insurance company as it may offer a multipolicy discount, but shopping around to compare rates is also advisable. If a student's car is left at home, the auto insurance company should be contacted as many insurers give discounts for students who are living at a school that is at least 100 miles from home.
Insurance Information Institute, 110 William Street, New York, NY 10038, (212) 346-5500