When your child walks across that stage and finally earns their high school diploma, insurance is probably the furthest thing from your mind. In just a few short months, though, you’ll be packing up all their favorite things — not to mention plenty of new purchases — and moving them into their first dorm room. 

You can’t protect your young one forever, but you can make sure their stuff is financially protected. Theft happens, and there’s always an outside chance that fire or a malfunctioning sprinkler system could ruin their belongings. College is expensive enough — the right insurance coverage is key to making sure you don’t have to pay for any unforeseen disasters.

Start with your homeowners insurance policy

The good news is that most homeowners insurance policies offer coverage for college students — and the majority of their stuff. Most policies will cover full-time students under the age of 26, as long as they live in a campus dorm room. Off-campus apartments may or may not be covered — and if not, an inexpensive renters insurance policy is a great way to cover your student’s belonging and give you peace of mind.
Details vary, so check the specifics of your policy to find out if your student is covered or whether purchasing them insurance coverage of their own might be the better option.

Consider the coverage

Once you find out if your homeowners policy extends to your college student, it’s time to dig deeper into the coverage. In general, your home insurance extends three kinds of coverage to eligible college students:

    Know your limits

    If your college student is covered for all three areas listed above, check to make sure you understand the amount of coverage for each one. Does your policy cover your child in full as if they were living with you, or are there specific limits since they’re away at school? 

    Personal property of college students is often subject to a percentage limit of your full home policy’s coverage, since your student owns only a portion of the items in your home. Read your policy and talk to your insurance agent to make sure you understand the exact dollar amount your college student is covered for. Be sure to inform your child, too.

    When to consider additional coverage

    If you’re comfortable with your coverage, you don’t need to do anything else. However, you may want to consider purchasing additional insurance coverage if:

    1. Liability: This covers your college student if they accidentally hurt someone or cause damage to someone else’s property. Basic liability coverage can pay for repairs, legal damages or even a lawyer if they needs defense against a lawsuit.
    2. Medical payments: If someone is injured in your kid’s dorm room, this insurance coverage can help pay their medical bills (up to your policy limits).
    3. Personal property: Standard homeowners insurance can pay for repair or replacement of damaged personal property after a covered event. Anything your student owns and keeps at college is covered for theft, fire, vandalism and more. 

    Know your limits

    If your college student is covered for all three areas listed above, check to make sure you understand the amount of coverage for each one. Does your policy cover your child in full as if they were living with you, or are there specific limits since they’re away at school?

    Personal property of college students is often subject to a percentage limit of your full home policy’s coverage, since your student owns only a portion of the items in your home. Read your policy and talk to your insurance agent to make sure you understand the exact dollar amount your college student is covered for. Be sure to inform your child, too.

    When to consider additional coverage

    If you’re comfortable with your coverage, you don’t need to do anything else. However, you may want to consider purchasing additional insurance coverage if:

    • Your college student lives off campus and isn’t covered. In this case, a separate renters insurance policy is a must. They’re typically very affordable and worth every penny.
    • They have expensive electronics. If your personal property coverage is limited for college students, do some quick calculations on what it would take to replace their belongings. You can start by tallying up the receipts for those dorm room furnishings and new clothes, then add in computer (and other electronics) replacement costs. If you’re getting close to your limit, speak with your insurer about additional coverage limit options.
    • They have a checkered past. You know your child best. If you’re worried about their behavior or impulse control, check the liability coverage on your policy. It may be worth adding to your homeowners policy for a little extra peace of mind if you think their youthful exuberance could get them into trouble. 

    Sending your youngin’ off to college can be nerve-wracking, but knowing they’re protected with the right insurance coverage will help you set aside your worries. By checking your policy carefully, you may discover that you don’t need to spend any additional money on college expenses at all — at least until that first phone call comes asking you to send a little extra pizza money.